A new study has found that a third of LGBT people avoid careers in science, technology and engineering due to worries of discrimination and bullying. The study which was conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) discovered that subjects such as science, technology and engineering have an image problem which prevents companies from attracting LGBT into tech and LGBT people from pursuing a career in the industry.
Due to the risks of homophobic bullying and outdated attitudes, LGBT members feel pressured and remain in the closet. This has led to 33% of gay engineers claiming that they feel their sexuality was a barrier to the progression of their career. Another reason as to why LGBT workers are reluctant to come out is because 53% of LGBT workers have heard jokes about gay and lesbian people at least once whilst being at work, and 1 in 5 LGBT employees have reported that they have been told or it has been implied to dress more masculine or feminine. Even though passing comments made by fellow employees may not be intended badly, they may not be appreciated by the person at the receiving end of the joke. No one likes to work in a hostile environment where they feel unwelcome or isolated.
Tolerance in the work place can also be due to employees ages. The younger generation are more open about LGBT issues and are more likely to be openly gay and not discriminate against LGBT workers. Whereas the older generation are less accepting of same sex relationships and people who are LGBT because of the age they grew up in.
Companies must start off by making their working environment a place where everyone feels comfortable and safe. Setting up benchmarks to assess accomplishments by creating policies, staff engagement and career developments for everyone can be beneficial for all workers with making them feel welcome, especially LGBT.
Another way of attracting LGBT into tech, is by engaging with other companies and participating in meetings to discuss how to improve cultures and voicing what policies you have in place, is a step towards creating an inclusive workplace. These meetings can be with other tech companies and with other companies from different industries.
Have regular staff training on diversity and inclusion. The training can be a way of keeping up with regular trends and news. Providing equal benefits for same sex marriages and health benefits for transgender employees can also help you create an inclusive workplace in tech.
Invest your time into starting LGBT resource groups for your employees which enables them to discuss recent issues and personal experiences is another way of attracting LGBT into tech. Creating outgoing branded names such as glAMAZON (Amazon) and GLEAM (Gaya and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft) for these groups is a great way of getting recognised. Lastly, getting involved in LGBT events with your employees is an excellent way of showing future employees and other organisations that you support LGBT in your workplace and organisation.
Tech companies that have been recognised for having a diverse workforce and supporting LGBT employees have been highlighted in Stonewalls starting out guide. Starting out is a career guide that show cases LGBT inclusive employers for students, graduates and job seekers. As one of the fastest growing industries, technology needs to appeal and attract a diverse workforce to enable greater success. The following tech companies, to name a few, have been classed as ‘diversity champions’ for attracting LGBT into tech and supporting them: