Last week, in a landmark opinion that dominated the news and social media, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can marry in all 50 states. This got us thinking about the LGBT workforce. Perhaps the most significant immediate implication of this ruling pertains to the Family Medical Leave Act. As of Friday, workers in same-sex marriages across the country have the same rights as their counterparts in hetero marriages to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse.
Last year, Pres. Obama signed an executive order protecting federal contractors from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Such discrimination against federal employees was already prohibited. In recent years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has increased its activities related to the protections of LGBT workers . The EEOC’s undertakings include filing LGBT-related lawsuits challenging alleged sex discrimination, engaging in federal-sector enforcement of LGBT policies, and conducting training and outreach to the public. Still, there’s no federal law that bans employer discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Congress has voted on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act repeatedly since 1994, most recently in 2013. Each time it has failed, as many Republicans consider it a states’ rights issue.
Left in the hands of the states, there’s a wide variety of protections or lack thereof. Many states do not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Only 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation covering all employees from both forms of discrimination. In some states, public-sector employees are protected but private-sector employees aren’t. Some states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation but not based on gender identity.
The following infographics illustrate a variety of issues concerning the LGBT workplace, from discrimination’s impact on recruitment to worker productivity to how LGBT-friendly policies benefit corporate brands.
New Employment Protections for 28 Million Workers
Though Pres. Obama signed Executive Order 11478 in July 2014, it didn’t go into effect until April 2015. This infographic by the Center for American Progress illustrates how large the scope of the action is.
Civil Rights in the 21st Century
This CityTownInfo infographic notes that the Senate passed ENDA in 2013. The House of Representatives, however, did not. One of the more interesting sections of this infographic shows how businesses can benefit by being LGBT-friendly, as out employees are more productive and loyal to their employers than closeted ones.
Discrimination and Dollars
Another infographic by the Center for American Progress , this one shows how LGBT discrimination hurts employers’ bottom lines. From a recruitment standpoint, businesses are limiting themselves to a subpar talent pool when they discriminate. From a retention standpoint, replacing a six-figure employee can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A Tale of Two ExxonMobil Applicants
The gay-rights organization Freedom to Work created two fake resumes and submitted them both for an administrative assistant position at Exxon Mobil’s Pakota, Ill., office. Though the applicant who included LGBT activism in her volunteer experience had superior qualifications, the other applicant was contacted. Freedom to Work’s infographic illustrates the disparity in the hiring funnel. The organization chose Illinois as the location for this exercise because of the state’s anti-discrimination workplace protections, and filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
The Rainbow Workerforce
Of course, LGBT workplace concerns are not exclusively an American issue. Did you know that most of Recruiterbox’s employees are based in India? This infographic by the Mission for Indian Gay & Lesbian Empowerment (MINGLE) illustrates findings from the organization’s 2012 Workplace Survey Report. Almost 82 percent of participants indicated that LGBT-friendly policies were a determining factor in taking a new job or staying in their present one. While only 29.5 percent of participants were in the closet to their friends, more than twice that many–68.5 percent–were still closeted to their managers.
About the author
Erin Engstrom is the web content strategist at Trakstar. I’m in Chicago for now, but hope to take advantage of Trakstar Hire’s remote workplace and do the digital nomad thing. Relax and eat the elephant one bite at a time.