What’s in it for you to come out at work?
By Colin Druhan
Just under half of all Canadians who identify as LGBT are out to everyone they work with. There is ample evidence to prove that employers who foster inclusive environments where it’s safe for LGBT employees to be honest about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity enjoy higher retention rates and more productive teams. That’s certainly great for those employers, but for LGBT Canadians wondering what’s in it for them to come out at work here are a few possible benefits to consider:
Eliminate the work of staying in the closet
Nearly every workplace demands some sort of sharing of personal information, whether it’s talking about general interests like TV shows, movies and sports or more intimate details like what and with whom we did on the weekends. Editing out key information that would disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity, like names and gendered pronouns, can be a full time job in itself.
Build stronger relationships
The more we know about our colleagues the more invested we are in their success. Sharing personal information inspires the same behavior in others and knowing facts about the people we work with limits how much we rely on assumptions and stereotypes.
Be an ally to others
Not all LGBT people share the same challenges, but by coupling being out at work with vocal support for all members of the LGBT community you are providing the opportunity for your LGBT colleagues to reach out to you when they need support. That means understanding how you want to be treated and listening to others when they tell you what they need to feel safe and respected at work.
Create positive role models
When LGBT people who are new to the job market see members of the community in positions of leadership they are better able to imagine themselves in senior roles. Visible LGBT leaders also have the opportunity to challenges stereotypes about what LGBT people can (or can’t) achieve in the workplace.
Colin Druhan is the Executive Director of Pride at Work Canada, a national not-for-profit organization that empowers employers to foster workplace cultures that recognize LGBT employees. For more information, please visit prideatwork.ca.