Black and Gay in Corporate America - Black Enterprise
Career Magazine

Black and Gay in Corporate America

they have to leave a part of themselves at home when they come to work will constantly hide or lie about details of their personal lives,” McLeod says. “They will be afraid to have conversations at the water cooler about their partner or to have a photo of their partner on their desks.”

While more companies have policies that protect LGBT workers, there needs to be improved inclusiveness and sensitivity training, especially for transgender workers, McLeod says. A survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found 90% of transgender employees reported harassment at work. Research by the Williams Institute, which works to advance sexual orientation law and public policy, shows that between 15% and 43% of gay and transgender workers experience some form of discrimination on the job solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, 8% to 17% have been passed over for a job or fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; 10% to 28% received a negative performance evaluation or were passed over for a promotion because they were gay or transgender; and 7% to 41% were verbally or physically abused or had their workplace vandalized.

Ironically, even companies that have strong diversity policies, including protections and benefits for LGBT employees, are challenged with consistently upholding these values. Recently, several major corporations were called out by civil rights organizations such as Garden State Equality and the Tennessee Equality Project for failing to oppose legislation–lobbied for by The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry–that repealed Nashville’s ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Garden State Equality rescinded awards to KPMG, Pfizer Inc., and AT&T based on their non-action. Several major national corporations also have representatives on the Tennessee Chamber board including Nissan, FedEx, Comcast, DuPont, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, Whirlpool, Alcoa, and United HealthCare.