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75+ Must-Know LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination Statistics [2023]: Rates and Trends

By Chris Kolmar
Oct. 17, 2022
Fact Checked
Cite This Webpage Zippia. "75+ Must-Know LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination Statistics [2023]: Rates and Trends" Zippia.com. Oct. 17, 2022, https://www.zippia.com/advice/lgbt-workplace-discrimination-statistics/

Research Summary. While LGBTQ+ individuals cannot be fired from their jobs based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, harassment or mistreatment on the job remains prolific. After extensive research, our data analysis team concluded:

  • 46% of LGBTQ+ workers have experienced unfair treatment at work at one point in their lives.

  • More than 33% of LGTBQ+ Americans and more than 60% of trans Americans faced some kind of discrimination over 2020.

  • 36% of LGBTQ+ people have experienced harassment or discrimination in the workplace, making it the second most common space where LGBTQ+ people experience discrimination, behind public spaces (51%).

  • 10% of LGBTQ+ employees have left a job because the work environment did not accept LGBTQ+ people.

  • 93% of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation. 91% have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity.

  • 20% of LGBTQ+ Americans have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs.

  • While 5.1% of American women and 3.9% of men are LGBTQ+, LGBTQ+ women hold only 0.6% of women-held senior VP/C-suite jobs, and LGBTQ+ men hold only 2.9% of senior VP/C-sute jobs held by men.

For further analysis, we broke down the data in the following ways:
Evaluation + Promotion | Industry | Being ‘Out’ at Work | Employment | Job Type | Workplace Inclusivity/Exclusivity | Income
lgbtq+ men workplace representation by job level
lgbtq+ women workplace representation by job level

General LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination Statistics

  • 7% to 41% of gay and transgender workers were verbally or physically abused or had their workplace vandalized.

  • 12% to 30% of straight workers witnessed discrimination in the workforce based on sexual orientation.

  • 25% of LGBTQ+ people report experiencing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the past year.

  • 90% of transgender workers report some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job.

  • Studies show that anywhere from 15% to 43% of gay people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment at the workplace.

  • Over half (53%) of LGBTQ+ employees heard lesbian and gay jokes at work, while 37% heard bisexual jokes and 41% heard transgender jokes in 2018.

  • what jokes lgbtq+ workers hear at work

  • Matched pairs of women — in which one woman in the pair was transgender — experienced a net rate of discrimination of 42% against transgender applicants.

  • Nearly two-thirds (59%) of non-LGBTQ+ employees believe it is “unprofessional” to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.

  • Employees report feeling exhausted from spending time and energy concealing their sexual orientation (17%) and gender identity (13%).

  • Compared with straight women and straight men, bisexual women and bisexual men are 13% and 28%, respectively, more likely to have experienced microaggressions.

  • More than half of LGBTQ+ women report having experienced sexual harassment over the course of their career — 1.4x more than straight women and 1.9x more than LGBTQ+ men.

  • 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ workers report having been told or had coworkers imply that they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner.

  • 31% of LGBTQ+ workers say they have felt unhappy or depressed at work.

  • The top reason LGBTQ+ workers don’t report negative comments they hear about LGBTQ+ people to a supervisor or human resources is because they don’t think anything would be done about it. They also don’t want to hurt their relationships with coworkers.

46% of LGBTQ+ workers have experienced unfair treatment at work

LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination Statistics by Evaluation and Promotion

Even after the application and hiring processes, LGBTQ+ individuals are promoted and given raises at a lower rate than their straight coworkers. In some instances, they were even fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • 8% to 17% of gay and transgender workers report being passed over for a job or fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people reported being discriminated against because of their identity when being paid equally or considered for a promotion.

  • 10% to 28% of LGBTQ+ individuals received a negative performance evaluation or were passed over for a promotion because they were gay or transgender.

  • 27% of transgender workers report being fired, not hired, or denied promotion in 2016-2017.

  • 47% of workers have experienced an adverse job outcome because they are transgender. This includes:

    • 44% were passed over for a job.

    • 23% were denied a promotion.

    • 26% were fired because they were transgender.

    adverse job outcomes for transgender workers

  • 22% of LGBTQ+ Americans have not been paid equally or promoted at the same rate as their peers.

  • LGBTQ+ people of color are at least 2x as likely as white LGBTQ+ people to say they have been personally discriminated against because they are LGBTQ+ when applying for jobs and when interacting with police, compared to white LGBTQ+ people.

  • LGBTQ+ employees face both subtle and overt forms of discrimination, even in places that are perceived as LGBTQ+-inclusive.

  • LGBTQ+ women face increased rates of sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender and orientation.

  • 3 in 20 LGBTQ+ women believe that their sexual orientation will negatively affect their career advancement at work. For LGBTQ+ men, this number is even higher, at 6 in 20.

  • share of lgbtq+ workers issues with career advancement

LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination Statistics by Industry

  • 23% of restaurant workers experienced verbal abuse related to sexual orientation.

  • In tech, LGBTQ+ employees reported experiences of bullying and public humiliation at significantly higher rates than non-LGBTQ+ employees in 2017.

LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination During the Application Process Statistics

A significant portion of LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced discrimination during the application or hiring process, leading many to cover up or not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • 20% of LGBTQ+ Americans have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs.

  • 1 in 10 LGBTQ+ people report removing items from their resume to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) from employers.

  • Studies using resumes indicate that gay men, queer women, and transgender applicants receive fewer callbacks compared with resumes without any indication that the applicant was gay, queer, or transgender.

LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination Statistics by Being ‘Out’ at Work

Most LGBTQ+ individuals are not open about their sexuality in the workplace, causing them to cover up an important aspect of their identities and leading to uncomfortable situations.

  • 46% of LGBTQ+ workers report they remain closeted at work. Their reasons include:

    • 38% don’t want to be stereotyped.

    • 36% don’t want to make their coworkers uncomfortable.

    • 31% fear they’d lose relationships with their coworkers.

    • 27% worry that their coworkers would think they were attracted to them.

    why lgbtq+ workers remain closeted at work

  • 54% of employees who are out at work remain closeted to their clients and customers.

  • 26% of closeted individuals wish they could be out.

  • Fewer than 0.3% of Fortune 500 board directors were openly LGBTQ+ in 2020.

  • 50% of non-LGBTQ+ workers report no openly LGBTQ+ coworkers at their job.

  • LGBTQ+ women are more than 2x as likely as straight women to feel as though they cannot talk about themselves or their life outside work.

  • LGBTQ+ women who are open about their sexuality at work are half as likely (8%) to plan to leave their current employer in the next year compared with their closeted peers (16%), and are a third more likely to plan to stay for five years or more (51% versus 38%).

  • retention in open vs. closeted lgbtq+ workers

  • 36% of “out” employees have lied about or covered up parts of their identities at work in the past year.

  • Straight employees under 35 (Gen-Z and millennials) are 1.6 times more likely to know LGBTQ+ colleagues, and 3x more likely to find value in their LGBTQ+ colleagues being out, compared with older non-LGBTQ+ employees.

LGBTQ+ Employment Statistics

Although LGBTQ+ individuals represent less than 5% of the population, they’re underrepresented in the corporate world. Let’s take a look at a few more general LGBTQ+ statistics:

  • In the United States, an estimated 4.5% of the population — 11 million people — identify as LGBTQ+, 88% of whom are in the workforce.

  • 5.1% of US women identify as LGBTQ+ as do 3.9% of US men. Their representation in corporate America, however, is much lower.

  • The LGBTQ+ workforce is far more racially diverse and more likely to include women, transgender employees, and people with more varied sexual orientations than in the past, particularly among younger generations.

  • Of LGBTQ+ employees under age 35, 28% are people of color who identify as women, versus just 2% of those aged 55 or older.

LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination Statistics by Job Type

More than 20% of workers in the restaurants, food services, and hospital industries identify as LGBTQ+. Also, LGBTQ+ women are much more likely to seek senior leadership roles than straight or LGBTQ+ men.

  • 2 million (15%) of LGBT workers are in restaurants and food services.

  • 1 million (7.5%) of LGBT workers work in hospitals.

  • About 40% of LGBT employees work in industries where they face more exposure to infection and/or economic insecurity.

  • LGBTQ+ women are 1.5x more likely than straight men and 1.2x more likely than LGBTQ+ men to be motivated to advance into senior leadership so that they can use their position to be a role model for others like them.

  • Trans people are less likely to have management, evaluation, or hiring responsibilities than their cisgender coworkers.

  • 32% of trans people frequently think about leaving their company, compared to 21% of cisgender people.

  • 18% of trans people expect to stay at their current company for less than a year, versus 8% of cisgender people.

  • employee retention in cisgender vs transgender workers

LGBTQ+ Employment Statistics by Workplace Inclusivity/Exclusivity

Although an LGBTQ+-inclusive workplace can be a powerful economic factor, LGBTQ+ individuals are vastly underrepresented in corporate America, which only shrinks the further up the employment ladder you go.

  • There is strong evidence that an LGBT-inclusive workplace can be good for business, including improved financial performance, innovation, attrition, and a more engaged workforce.

  • 25% of LGBTQ+ employees report staying in a job due to a LGBTQ+-inclusive work environment.

  • While LGBTQ+ women make up 2.3% of entry-level employees, they comprise only 1.6% of managers and even less for senior levels.

  • LGBTQ+ women are almost 2x as likely to feel the pressure to “play along” with sexual discussion, humor, or actions than their straight women and male-LGBTQ+ counterparts.

  • LGBTQ+ women of color are 8x more likely than straight white men to report “onlyness” (i.e., “being the only one on a team or in a meeting with their given gender identity, sexual orientation, or race.”).

  • 75% of LGBTQ+ employees have reported experiencing negative day-to-day workplace interactions related to their LGBTQ+ identity in the past year.

  • Only 1 out of 5 U.S. companies offer paid family leave for LGBT employees.

  • Only 58% of Fortune 500 companies offer transgender-inclusive benefits.

  • 53% of all Fortune 500 companies now offer domestic partner benefits while 65% offer transgender-inclusive health benefits.

  • 91% of Fortune 500 companies have made changes to their discrimination policies to include gender identity protection.

LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination Statistics by Income

In general, LGBTQ+ individuals earn less than their straight counterparts and experience meaningfully higher unemployment, poverty, and homelessness rates.

  • Despite comprising 4.5% of adults in the United States, LGBTQ+ adults comprise 6.2% of people who earn less than $36,000 a year.

  • 22% of LGBTQ+ workers are not paid or promoted at the same rate as colleagues.

  • Gay men earn 10% to 32% less than similarly qualified heterosexual males.

  • Gay men report higher salaries than lesbian women, but both report less income than non-LGBTQ+ colleagues.

  • Older gay and lesbian adults experience higher poverty rates than their heterosexual counterparts.

  • Transgender individuals are 2x as likely to be unemployed and are four times as likely to live in poverty. Nearly 20% have been or are currently homeless.

LGBTQ+ Workplace Discrimination FAQ

  1. Can an employer ask if you are LGBTQ+?

    Yes, your employer can ask you if you’re LGBTQ+, but they cannot legally demand that you answer. However, even if you choose to disclose your gender or sexual orientation, you will still be protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This 1964 act prohibits employment discrimination based on sex.

  2. Why do companies ask if you are LGBTQ+?

    The vast majority of companies will ask if you’re LGBTQ+ to ensure you receive fair treatment. For example, being aware of your identity will allow them to provide appropriate access to benefits like fertility planning by same-sex spouses, family leave, and transgender healthcare coverage.

    Though, if you suspect a company is asking for unjust or discriminatory reasons, you have every right not to answer.

  3. Should I put LGBTQ+ on my resume?

    Whether or not you should put LGBTQ+ on your resume is a personal question that requires a personal answer. For example, if you’re interested in upfront and fair treatment from your employer, as well as access to relevant benefits, including that you’re a part of the LGBTQ+, is important.

    On the other hand, if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of coming out to a potential employer, you’re under no legal obligation to do so.

  4. References

    1. LGBTQ+map.com. LGBTQ+ People in the Workplace: Demographics, Experiences, and Pathways to Equity. Accessed 4/22/21.

    2. Center for American Progress. The State of the LGBTQ+ Community in the Labor Market. Accessed 4/22/21.

    3. Center for American Progress. Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment. Accessed 4/23/21.

    4. National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. Accessed 4/23/21.

    5. Center for American Progress. LGBT Older Adults: Falling Through the Safety Net. Accessed 4/23/21.

    6. Catalyst. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Workplace Issues: Quick Take. Accessed 4/23/21.

    7. Catalyst. Making Change: LGBT Inclusion—Implementing Policies, Programs, and Practices. Accessed 4/23/21.

    8. BestCompaniesAZ. 2020 LGBT Discrimination Statistics in the Workplace. Accessed 4/23/21.

    9. McKinsey Company. How the LGBTQ+ Community Fares in the Workplace. Accessed 4/23/21.

    10. Boston Consulting Group. A New LGBTQ+ Workforce Has Arrived—Inclusive Cultures Must Follow. Accessed 4/23/21.

    11. Human Rights Campaign. Startling Data Reveals Half of LGBTQ+ Employees in the U.S. Remain Closeted at Work. Accessed 4/23/21.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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