LGBT Employees Report Bullying

If you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender employee, you’re 11 percent likelier to have been bullied in the workplace than your non-LGBT colleagues. That’s based on a new Careerbuilder survey out today which finds that two in five (40 percent) of LGBT workers say they’ve been subjected to bullying, compared to the national average of 29 percent for all workers. Of those, 56 percent say they’ve been bullied repeatedly.

What does this bullying look like? Sixty one percent said they’ve been falsely accused of mistakes they didn’t make, while 49 percent they were subjected to different standards or policies than other workers. Forty two percent said they were picked on for personal attributes such as race, gender or appearance, while 28 percent said belittling comments were made about their work during meetings.

The bullying of LGBT employees extracts an economic as well as a psychological toll. Consider a survey out earlier this year by the Kapor Center for Social Impact, which found that LGBT employees working in the tech sector reported instances of bullying and public humiliation (20 percent and 24 percent, respectively) at rates notably higher than non-LGBT employees (13 percent. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the LGBT survey respondents said bullying contributed to their decision to leave their company. In other words, an industry that’s already strapped for talent is losing more people thanks to the insensitive jerks in their midst.

Transgender employees face some of the most blatant instances of bullying. Rachael Booth, a Navy veteran and a transgender computer programmer, said her company forced her to carry a bright red sign whenever she had to use the bathroom at work and hang it on the bathroom door, she writes in the recently released book To My Trans Sisters. If someone was using the restroom, Booth had to wait around while holding the conspicuous sign, she writes.

Here’s hoping that experiences such as Booth’s will soon be a thing of the past. Companies have made great progress over the years in treating their LGBT employees as equals, as evidenced by the Human Rights Campaign’s Rainbow Awards. But as the Careerbuilder survey suggests, there’s more work to be done.