Knowledge Center

Building LGBT-Inclusive Workplaces: Engaging Organizations and Individuals in Change

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This report describes the workplace experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees and supports the development of programs and practices that leverage diversity, foster inclusion, and increase awareness, accountability, and action. While protecting employees from discrimination is an essential step when creating LGBT-inclusive environments, organizations must move discourse beyond anti-discrimination policies to everyday issues facing LGBT employees.

Impetus: Learning about LGBT employees expands Catalyst’s research on women in business. In this report, we examine the workplace experiences of LGBT employees working in Canada, a country with legislated human rights protections for LGBT individuals.

Methodology: The primary findings are based on qualitative data from the open-ended questions of a survey designed to capture the workplace experiences, perceptions, and stories of LGBT employees. The sample comprised 232 respondents who identified as LGBT. The results of a second survey, with 17,908 respondents, 466 of whom self-identified as LGBT, that focused on career advancement more broadly supplement the primary findings.

Findings: Despite the supportive legal climate in Canada, workplace barriers persist for LGBT employees. Respondents cited three factors that affected their career advancement and the formation of critical relationships in the workplace: a lack of awareness regarding LGBT issues, discriminatory behaviours, and exclusion from important connections with others. LGBT women reported less positive relationships with their managers than LGBT men and non-LGBT women and men did. LGBT employees at organizations with diversity and inclusion programs, policies, and practices, as well as those with broader talent management programs, were more satisfied and committed, described their workplace as more fair, and had more positive relationships with their managers and colleagues.

Contributing Sponsor: Scotiabank