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How LGBTQ+ professionals navigate work environments, code-switch in the workplace

LGBTQ+ employees say they've had to change mannerisms to avoid negative stereotypes, to be more fairly treated and to gain more opportunities at work.
Professionals find they might act a certain way in a business environment
Posted at 5:05 PM, Jun 08, 2024

LGBTQ+ professionals say they've had to make a number of adjustments to their personality and how they present when they are in a business setting or their work environment.

Data from LinkedIn was compiled after professionals were questioned on a number of aspects of life as an LGBTQ+ professional in the workplace and found that 66% of professionals in the LGBTQ+ community said they have had to find an ally in the workplace.

Code-switching, or correcting mannerisms to find more acceptance in society, has also been a useful tool to find a way to fit in, according to respondents.

LinkedIn's data found that 74% of LGBTQ+ professionals said they've had to code-switch to avoid experiencing any negative stereotypes in the workplace and 57% said they were not comfortable with presenting their full identity at work.

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Andrew McCaskill, a Culture & Economics Contributor at SiriusXM works with LinkedIn as a career expert. McCaskill says it's the type of situation where you may have a boyfriend or a girlfriend but you refer to them as the neutral "they" pronoun in the workplace to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable.

Professionals in this community may feel they will be counted out from getting more opportunities or feel they might receive hostility from a manager or coworkers, the respondents indicated.

There is also the concept known as the "invisible tax." These could be the unspoken aspects of not feeling you fit in or being counted out for opportunities throughout one's career and feeling it might be because you're having to hold yourself back from connecting more because of your sexuality or gender identity at work.

McCaskill says LGBTQ+ professionals should look for things known as "culture cues."

McCaskill has worked with LinkedIn to try and create a guide for LGBTQ+ employees to find companies that provide more of a safe space and that allow employees to be more of themselves.

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McCaskill says culture cues for a company might include things like "looking to see if the recruiter who is reaching out to you uses pronouns in their email signature, are there queer leaders who are out at that particular company? Does the company have an LGBTQ+ resource group? Those are really good indicators that the company might be a safer space," McCaskill said.

"I would also say to start to have that conversation with a recruiter to talk about what the benefits are. Because, often times there are benefits that are very specific to the LGBTQ+ community, where we want to make sure that we are included — like paternity leave, like it's not just maternity leave but it's paternity leave. Or, do they have benefits that will help a same-sex couple that will help them expand their family," McCaskill said.

LinkedIn and Impact Media have launched the 2024 "Out@Work" initiative to help LGBTQ+ professionals navigate their careers and find companies where they can feel safer.