Article: Pride against work prejudice: The fight for LGBTQ+ rights marches on


Pride against work prejudice: The fight for LGBTQ+ rights marches on

Pride flags wave but discrimination persists in workplaces, revealing a gap between corporate display and real LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
Pride against work prejudice: The fight for LGBTQ+ rights marches on

With pride flags waving brightly across the corporate world this June, one would think the workplace has become a perfectly safe and inclusive haven for LGBTQ+ workers.

The truth, however, is far from perfect – while the corporate world has become more LGBTQ-friendly over the years, discrimination continues to be a nagging problem.

A survey by Deloitte showed that nearly half of its respondents have experienced “non-inclusive behaviours” at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Worse, most of them decided to keep their experience to themselves instead of filing a complaint, fearing they wouldn’t be taken seriously.

The Deloitte study surveyed at least 5,400 LGBTQ+ workers across 13 countries. Half of them have yet to come out to their colleagues out of fear of being treated differently or unfairly.

Read More: Here’s how several firms empower LGBTQ+ employees coming out

Genuine pride or mere pinkwashing?

Despite the progress of the LGBTQ+ struggle, many employees feel that companies and brands have been engaged in “pinkwashing.”

Sometimes called “rainbow capitalism,” pinkwashing refers to how brands use and co-opt the pride movement just to make more money.

For some, pinkwashing is just fair game, with the fight for LGBTQ+ rights gaining more visibility in mainstream consciousness.

However, many LGBTQ+ workers believe that visibility does not always equate with actual actions that change the culture in the workplace.

In fact, despite the unprecedented visibility of the pride movement today, anti-LGBTQ+ legislations continue to rise.

Read More: Employees fired for including gender pronouns in email signatures?

Anti-LGBTQ+ laws rising

A 2023 study by job platform Indeed showed that 65% of LGBTQ+ employees have been very concerned about the rise of several legislative bills against the community in various US states.

In 2022, the Movement Advancement Project said at least 315 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced, while the American Civil Liberties Union said it is tracking 490 separately.

“Much of recent anti-LGBTQ legislation aims to construct systematic roadblocks to hinder the spread of proper LGBTQ+ education,” the Indeed study read.

Beyond just the impact on the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, these legislations may have a far more reaching effect on the economy, according to an expert in gender studies.

“We’ve long known that discrimination is bad for business,” wrote Dorian Rhea Debussy, a lecturer of women's, gender, and sexuality Studies at the Ohio State University.

“The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco recently found that systemic racial and gender wage gaps – which distort labour markets, reduce productivity and harm job satisfaction – have cost the US economy nearly US$71 trillion since 1990,” she explained.

The need for LGBTQ-specific benefits

With rising laws against LGBTQ+ workers, Debussy emphasised the need for more comprehensive benefit packages for the community.

Echoing the findings of the Indeed study, she said health benefits like family planning support, transition-related care coverages, and fertility assistance have been in demand.

“The Human Rights Campaign’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index notes that more than one-third of Fortune 500 companies still don’t offer trans-inclusive benefits,” Debussy said.

“They also report that only about 72% of Fortune 500 companies require LGBTQ+ competency training,” she added.

With a lingering labour shortage across industries, Debussy believes it would be wise for companies to go beyond pinkwashing and take the pride movement more seriously.

Read More: How do we celebrate Pride 365 days of the year?

The future of pride

The progress is there, but the fact remains that more employers need to show action and commitment to embracing LGBTQ+ workers.

The fight for LGBTQ+ rights will continue to rage on as the younger generation seemingly ushers in the new era of work that’s more committed to the pride movement.

According to the Deloitte study, Gen Z and Millennial workers have been adamant in choosing organisations serious about embracing LGBTQ+ rights. If this behaviour in the labour market continues, the corporate world will see drastic changes.

That is not to say that the pride movement will not encounter any pushback from conservative people. But with the young ones taking up the fight for LGBTQ+ rights to a whole new level, it is safe to say that the pride movement is on to something different and more concrete this time.

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Topics: Diversity, Culture, #DEIB

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