Survey: Gays still face hostility on the job

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 12 2002 11:00 PM ET

Results of a national survey released Thursday by media companies Witeck-Combs Communications and Harris Interactive indicate that more than two out of five--or 41%--of gays and lesbians report facing some form of hostility in America's workplaces.

Nine percent said they have been fired or dismissed unfairly from a previous job, and 8% said they've been pressured to quit a job because of their sexual orientation.

These were among the key findings of the online survey, in which 2,203 adults participated. Of those adults surveyed, about 5% self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.

In addition, when respondents were asked which groups of people in society they perceive as experiencing discrimination in the workplace, 73% answered "gays and lesbians"--the second-highest survey response, just behind "older adults aged 65 and older" (78%). Other groups mentioned as vulnerable to workplace discrimination included people with disabilities (68%), women (65%), African-Americans (61%), Hispanic Americans (60%), and Muslims (60%).

Respondents also showed significant support for the fair treatment of gays in the workplace. Over three quarters (77%) of respondents said that sexual orientation should not be a factor when evaluating an employee's job performance. More than six out of ten (64%) also said all employees, regardless of sexual orientation, should be entitled to equal benefits on the job, such as health insurance for their partners or spouses.

"Even though fairness and protections for gays and lesbians in corporate America are increasing, attitudes are obviously not catching up as fast," said Wesley Combs, president of Witeck-Combs Communications, a marketing and public relations firm that specializes in the GLBT market. "Corporations need to understand that having policies that include equal benefits for gays and lesbians may not be implemented fairly or even be in sync with the corporate culture."

This study was conducted online within the United States between August 26 and September 2, among a nationwide cross-section of 2,203 adults. Figures for age, sex, race, education, region, and income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

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