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45% of Americans Believe Employers Discriminate Based on Sexuality

45% of Americans Believe Employers Discriminate Based on Sexuality

Person at desk looking frustrated.

The survey found that respondents believe the discrimination they've faced at work is intersectional.

A new study from IBM's Institute for Business Value found that 45 percent of surveyed Americans thought their employer discriminated against people due to their sexuality.

Researchers found that the perceived discrimination was more prominent when race, gender, and sexual orientation intersected, according to the survey Striving For Authenticity. Two out of three lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents said they had to work harder in order to succeed at work due to some aspect of their identity. Across racial groups, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people said it was their sexual orientation that they believed was the primary motivation for the discrimination they had experienced first-hand at work.

Of those surveyed, 74 percent of Black lesbian, gay, and bisexual women felt their identity group found less success than the general population.

White respondents who identified as lesbian, gay, and bisexual reported that they had experienced discrimination at work, but only four percent said it was severe. In contrast, that number rises to about 20 percent for those who identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual people of color.

"There is much more corporations can do to support LGBT+ people's career aspirations and allow them to bring their full selves to work," said Ella Slade, IBM's global LGBT+ leader, in a press release. "Empathetic leadership and support for employees' mental health with programs like Safe Spaces to Talk - which give employees in the LGBT+ community and others a safe place for sharing their experiences and gaining support - can help especially during the COVID-19 pandemic."

With COVID-19's effect on the workforce, 43 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual respondents said they struggled with working from home and family care during the pandemic. That's compared to 34 percent of people who did not identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

The study also found executive leadership who identify as LGBTQ+ to be lacking. Only seven percent of those in the survey were senior executives.

The study was conducted through IBM's Institute for Business Value. The Institute collaborated with Oxford Economics to survey over 6,000 U.S. professionals between August 2020 and January 2021 -- 700 of whom identified as gay or lesbian or bisexual. In addition to the survey, IBM hosted an event with Out & Equal and Workplace Pride on April 13 and 14 where data on professionals with diverse gender identities was collected.

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