These are interesting stats. States passing anti-gay LGBT legislation need to think twice about the unintended consequences to business by creating a hostile environment for LGBT employees.  

A new study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, featured in the July/August issue of the Harvard Business Review, quantifies the loss to individuals and to the bottom line when organizations fail to create a workplace hospitable to their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The data, based on a survey of 2,952 respondents, show the consequences when LGBT employees are forced to keep their lives and loved ones a secret from colleagues.

Among the findings:

•       This is a highly desirable labor pool: ambitious (71%), committed (88% are willing to go the extra mile for employers) and better educated (48% of LGBT respondents have graduate degrees versus 40% of their straight counterparts).

Despite a rise in anti-discrimination protections for LGBT employees, 48 percent of LGBT survey respondents reported being closeted at work. Staying in the closet has huge consequences.

Those who are out flourish at work, while those who are in the closet languish or leave.

•       LGBT employees who are not out reported significantly greater feelings of being stalled in their careers and greater dissatisfaction with their rates of promotion and advancement.

•       LGBT employees who are not out are 40 percent less likely to trust their employer than those who are out.

•       Employees who remain closeted and isolated are 73 percent more likely to leave their companies within the next three years.

This is a group with economic clout and loyalty to gay friendly brands. A recent study estimates the LGBT community’s collective buying power at more than $700 billion in the U.S. alone. This is a constituency with economic firepower companies should not ignore.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding