Today is National Coming Out Day.
As a gay man, today holds special significance for me, as it reminds me of that day, almost 30 years ago, that I came out to my parents. The anticipation of telling them was more painful than the actual conversation, and in fairly short order they were able to accept the reality of my sexual orientation.
Others aren’t so lucky. There are kids who cannot come out for fear of being thrown out of the house or for fear of being physically abused, or both. We’ve come a long way, and we have a long way to go.
This day also reminds me of the importance of equality in the workplace, and why, if you don’t have LGBTQ inclusive policies at work, you should create them and put them into practice.
A) It’s the right thing to do. We are all equal, and should be treated as such.
B) It’s also good for business, and the numbers are on your side. 67 percent of Americans support marriage equality. (The numbers are higher when you break down the individual rights and responsibilities afforded by marriage.) 71 percent of Americans support anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBTQ persons in housing, public accommodations, and the workplace.
C) Employees who are free to be who they are don’t have to waste brain energy on reframing conversations so as to hide the gender of the person that they’re dating or in a partnership with, which, I can tell you from experience, is exhausting. Employee retention goes up as well, meaning you save on hiring and training, and you don’t risk loosing the person who might become the next powerhouse CEO to a competing firm.
D) Be smart about it. It’s not enough to have a policy on paper and do nothing to train your team. This is not a box to be checked. This is a serious commitment and requires time, effort, and education.
E) Perhaps most importantly, LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at a rate three times above that of their straight counterparts. The numbers are higher for transgender individuals. A person with a platform, e.g. an out corporate executive, could give hope to an otherwise hopeless kid.
Check out the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for more information on how various brands rate in terms of LGBTQ workplace equality.
If you’d like to discuss steps you can take to create an LGBTQ inclusive workplace, click here.
Check out today’s installment of #10at10withKen @mosesianstrategies on Facebook.