New global study on inclusion and working from home

Out Now global study reveals LGBT+ people worry that working from home will have negative impacts

Paris, France: A new study released today (Wednesday, December 1 2021) by the global research and workplace training consultancy Out Now reveals that substantial numbers of people in the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans +) community worry that working from home could have damaging outcomes for them at work.

Out Now's 'LGBT+WFH' research report is based on the views of more than 2,000 respondents from 38 countries and shows that such concerns are prevalent among LGBT+ people from around the world.

People who choose to visibly support LGBT+ inclusion at work, known as "allies", also expressed their concerns that remote working is making it harder for support for LGBT+ inclusion to be a visible part of daily working lives.

After years investing in strengthening LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace, the 'LGBT+WFH' research findings show that there currently exists a clear risk for business, presented by the new working environment. If remote working reduces LGBT+ visibility, the many personal and commercial advantages, delivered by effective employee inclusion, risks becoming substantially diminished as a result.

Key findings

More than two out of three respondents said that new ways are needed to discuss LGBT+ inclusion at work when working from home.  Respondents also strongly supported a number of new initiatives able to show visibility and support for LGBT+ inclusion.

- Globally, 58% of LGBT+ respondents feel that "visibility is more difficult now".

- 46% say that "the topic of LGBT+ inclusion is discussed less often with colleagues when working from home".

- 70% of LGBT+ respondents and 73% of allies said that "we need new ways to discuss LGBT+ inclusion at work".

The study is supported by Fujitsu and Switzerland Tourism. Fieldwork was carried out over a 10-month period as employers responded to multiple lockdowns during the course of the pandemic.

Out Now chief executive officer Ian Johnson says working from home presents real challenges for companies seeking to ensure that their LGBT+ staff members can continue to feel included, valued and safe to 'come out' to colleagues at work.

Previous research work by Out Now has shown there is a nexus between the extent to which LGBT+ people feel able to be out with their colleagues and productivity levels, as well as an increased likelihood that LGBT+ people want to stay with their current employer when they feel able to be out with all their colleagues at work.

"For three decades at Out Now our work on inclusion has relied upon the visibility of support for LGBT+ colleagues shown by employers and allies in their workplaces. The move to remote working has caused many people to report that it has become more difficult to be visible as an 'out' LGBT+ person or ally. Most inclusion activities pre-pandemic relied on in-person actions to support LGBT+ people to feel safe to come out with their colleagues. Now, we see very different dynamics in play.

"Visibility of support for LGBT+ inclusion is a critical factor in whether LGBT+ people feel safe to come out with their colleagues at work. Removing the usual in-person cues of showing support risks making LGBT+ people feel less able to be open with colleagues," Johnson says.

"So many people don't realise what an effort it can be to conceal from colleagues such a fundamental aspect of who we are," says Johnson. "Making sure LGBT+ inclusion support remains visible when working remotely is not only important for LGBT+ people to feel safe to discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity with colleagues - it is valuable for the success of business that they continue to be able to do so."

Johnson says that working from home need not automatically lead to poorer outcomes and that opportunities have presented themselves to find new ways for companies and LGBT+ allies to show support - and for LGBT+ people to feel safely able to be visibly out with colleagues.

"The changes to many people's work habits have been extensive, however challenges also reveal new opportunities, and we see in the report's findings there are many new ways employees and employers can integrate visible actions into their work days to show clear support for LGBT+ people," says Johnson.

Included with the report is an Out Now 'LGBT+WFH' Toolkit. This provides a set of key actions which LGBT+ allies, employees and managers can implement - to ensure the ongoing visibility of inclusion at work when working remotely. The Toolkit delivers information to assist in meeting the requirements of ensuring LGBT+ inclusion remains both visible and effective.

Respondents to the study expressed a strong preference for being able to work in a 'hybrid' way - combining both in-office and remote working - into the future.

Christian Benson, vice president, client managing director, Fujitsu and Executive Sponsor of the Fujitsu Europe Pride LGBT+ network, says: "The Out Now 'LGBT+WFH' research is an important study that is helping us to develop meaningful actions that achieve better LGBT+ inclusion. With hybrid working here to stay and with millions of people around the world likely to spend more of their time working remotely in the future, the findings of this research help with practical guidance on how to create an inclusive hybrid culture for LGBT+ colleagues and allies. Achieving this can benefit all members of our team."

The new LGBT+WFH research report is available as a free download from this link.

About this study

2,031 people responded to an online survey for the 'LGBT+WFH' research. Fieldwork was undertaken between December 2020 and September 2021. The study analyses data responses for three countries: the UK, USA and Australia as well as reporting aggregated responses for 576 additional respondents from 35 other countries.

About Out Now

Established in 1992 in Australia, Out Now is today based in Paris, France and has for almost three decades been relied on by many of the world's leading organisations to advance effective LGBT+ inclusion. The Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Out Now, Ian Johnson, is named as one of the Top 10 Diversity Consultants in the Global Diversity List, supported by The Economist.