Ten percent of the corporate population is lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) (Van Horn and Schaffner 2003). This group often faces more stress than most because its members frequently have to conceal their sexual preference. The additional stress this can add to one’s job can lead to a bad working climate.
Common Stress Factors
The LGBT community faces three common issues: (1) harassment, (2) discrimination, and (3) hostility from other employees. Most LGBT people do not feel included at work because they have to keep a part of their identity invisible. This is because harassment and discrimination can take up-front, pervasive forms or take place in more discreet ways. Also, many may not be sure of their co-worker’s degree of acceptance. All of these factors can lead to a fear of being discriminated against, which results in negative work satisfaction.
The following quote demonstrates how transgender professionals feel about their identity (Crossdresser Workplace Issues n.d.):
We spend energy finding ways to lie about our weekend activities. We are afraid to pierce our ears, shave our legs, shape or polish our nails, or style our hair, because someone might figure it out. The first step to civil rights for cross dressers is not to have to fear firing or harassment if our transgender status becomes known.
Anti-discrimination policies are put in place so minorities feel free and open at work. However, according to Allen Ellis and Associate Professor Ph. D, Ellen Riggle, authors of Sexual Identity on the Job: Issues and Services, most policies do not include sexual minorities (Ellis and Riggle 1996). Having these policies adds support and contributes to a higher level of job satisfaction. To support sexual minorities, human resource managers should integrate gay, lesbian, and transsexual employees into an accepting work environment and give them a safe space to disclose their sexual preference. According to sexual minorities, most employers lack the skills necessary to effectively address this group.
Having support groups for sexual minorities can boost company morale and production. Having a safe space and allowing disclosure can increase production and overall job satisfaction. Career Coaches can help LGBT people look for companies that have an inclusive culture. Feeling safe at a company will increase their confidence while interviewing or working. Coaches need to understand their own biases toward sexual orientation before working with this group because it could interfere with their success. Coaches need to advocate and encourage a variety of movements, including positive social acceptance for the LGBT community. This could include lobbying for equal working rights or implementing better nondiscrimination polices that include LGBTs. Added stress at work can lead to low productivity and a bad working climate. It is important to have an employment protocol to alleviate extra stress and to train managers on how to address the LGBT population.