June is pride month, an important time to recognize and consider the past and present struggles that LGBTQ people have had to endure.
On June 28, 1969 the New York Police Department conducted a raid on the Stonewall Inn. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was one of the few locations openly accepting of the gay community in New York. Outrage at the raid resulted in neighborhood residents, staff and customers rioting in the streets outside. Over the next six days protests occurred with demands for a place in New York where LGBTQ people could be open without fear. One year later, on June 28 the first pride march was held in New York.
Since then, there has been progress in improved rights as well as the diminishing of stigmas surrounding LGBTQ people. In 1999 Bill Clinton was the first President to recognize pride month and 10 years later Barack Obama officially declared June as pride month. Additionally, in 2015 the US Supreme Court made same sex marriages legal in all US states and in 2021 Kamala Harris was the first sitting Vice President to walk in the Capital Pride Walk and Rally in Washington, D.C.
Despite recent social progress for LGBTQ people, treatment in the workplace has not been moving at the same rate. There are only four LGBTQ CEOs on the America’s Largest Corporations list from McKinsey & Company. Despite 5.1% of women in the U.S. identifying as LGBTQ only 2.3% of entry level roles are filled by LGBTQ women. For LGBTQ men only 3.1% of entry level roles are filled despite making up 3.9% of the population. As the level of position increases the rate of fulfillment by LGBTQ people drops substantially. Due to the lack of representation, especially at the top, it is easy for LGBTQ people to feel isolated and believe that their sexual orientation will negatively affect their career advancements.
Feeling comfortable and being able to come out in the workplace matters. Last year McKinsey & Company conducted interviews and research on LGBTQ members in the workforce. When asked what it was like feeling as though they were unable to come out in the workplace, one respondent said it “contributes to lower workplace productivity, because it is stressful and debilitating.” Coming out at the workplace is more than just telling your coworkers that you are LGBTQ. One interviewee described it as, “Coming out is going to the frontier of how authentic and transparent I want to be about who I am, in a way that creates as much freedom and ease at work as is comfortable and possible for me.” He also added on “Not everyone wants to go all the way to that level, and that’s fine too.”
Progress in the workplace can be made but it is more than just the gestures made by companies during pride month. Some steps that can be taken are as follows:
We encourage employers to continue to educate themselves and their workplace. We want progress to continue in the workplace to ensure equality and inclusivity for LGBTQ people.