Imagine a workplace where every voice is valued and diversity is celebrated. Unfortunately, there are too many barriers that block many people from experiencing true inclusion and belonging — particularly LGBTQ+ professionals. It’s time for that to change, not just for strategic gain but as a moral obligation driving innovation and excellence.

LGBTQ+ representation brings a wealth of perspectives and ideas to the workplace. In the United States alone, over 5.5% of adults identify as LGBTQ+. Among young adults aged 18-24, who inject fresh energy and innovation into organizations, driving creativity and pushing boundaries, that number rises to 15.2%.

Challenges in the Workplace

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns (although we love them). LGBTQ+ professionals still face daunting obstacles in the workplace. Discrimination, harassment and unequal treatment impede their career trajectories. Nearly half of LGBTQ+ workers feel compelled to conceal their authentic selves at work, fearing discrimination. Shocking, isn’t it? And that’s not all — over half report enduring hurtful jokes or comments, while a staggering 90% of transgender individuals endure discrimination in the workplace. These barriers don’t just stunt individual careers; they stunt the growth and dynamism of entire organizations.

The Legal Maze

Legal protections for LGBTQ+ individuals offer hope amid the complexities of employment law. Yet, anti-LGBTQ+ laws in some states present legal hurdles instead. Understanding state laws regarding LGBTQ+ rights can help guide company DE&I strategies.

A good resource for this is the Movement Advancement Project (, which diligently tracks LGBTQ-related laws and policies across states, meticulously tallying their impact on the lives and equality of LGBTQ+ individuals. It’s developed a comprehensive map to reflect each state’s policy scores across crucial categories like relationship and parental recognition, nondiscrimination and healthcare.

Build Your Environment

Creating an inclusive hiring environment demands more than words — it requires tangible actions and unwavering dedication. Envision a workplace where inclusivity isn’t just a slogan on posters but a lived reality. To attract and retain LGBTQ+ talent, organizations must commit to fostering an inclusive workplace. Here are five essential best practices:

  1. Establish inclusive policies and benefits
    • Implement policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Ensure clarity in communication to all employees.
    • Offer inclusive benefits like transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage and leave policies accommodating gender transition needs.
  2. Promote diversity and inclusion initiatives
    • Actively advocate for diversity and inclusion, including LGBTQ+ awareness training and workshops.
    • Encourage participation in LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for networking and support.
  3. Create a safe and supportive workplace culture
    • Cultivate an environment where LGBTQ+ employees feel safe, respected, and valued, with a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination or harassment.
    • Provide comprehensive LGBTQ+ sensitivity training for all levels of the organization.
  4. Prioritize career development and advancement opportunities
    • Offer inclusive mentorship programs and career development initiatives.
    • Ensure promotion opportunities are based on merit and performance and free from bias.
  5. Engage in LGBTQ+ community engagement and sponsorship
    • Support LGBTQ+ community events and organizations, demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
    • Participate actively in LGBTQ+ job fairs to recruit from diverse talent pools and showcase an inclusive culture.

Despite the familiarity of these recommendations, many companies have yet to implement them fully. Inclusive hiring transcends compliance; it’s about unlocking human potential. By embracing LGBTQ+ talent and implementing inclusive hiring strategies, employers attract top-tier individuals and foster a workplace where everyone can truly belong and excel. Let’s dismantle barriers and forge a brighter, more inclusive future — one hire at a time.