Seven Steps for finding an inclusive employer as an LGBTQIA jobseeker

Susanna Kahr

Job-seeking can be challenging for all of us, but it comes with its own set of challenges for those who identify as LGBTQIA. Yes, it’s 2019 and same-sex marriage is now legal in the U.S., but there there are still plenty of places where Americans can still get fired for being gay or transgender. And even if you don’t get fired, companies can be seriously unwelcoming and unaccommodating. In fact, 9% of LGBTQ employees have left a job because the environment was unwelcoming, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). In a Harvard survey of LGBTQ folks, 20% of respondents reported experiencing discrimination when applying for positions. 

It might be Pride month and companies are falling over each other to show us how much they embrace Pride and people of all orientations. But, if you’re job-seeking you need to look behind the Pride trucks and flags and see if the company you’re applying for is really inclusive and affirming of LGBTQIA people or not. 

Here are our seven steps to finding an employer that not only honors your rights but welcomes and supports you. You’ve got this! 

Do your homework

Starting by reviewing local LGBTQ chamber of commerce websites to see which companies in your area have chosen to align themselves with LGBTQ communities and employees. You can also check out the Human Rights Campaign Foundation which publishes a Corporate Equality Index highlighting LGBT-friendly employers. This is great because it’s “the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices” that relate to LGBTQ employees, so it should tell you everything you need to know. 

Of course, it also goes without saying that you shouldn’t take a company at face value. Make your first port of call our kununu reviews written by real employees. Make note of their diversity/inclusion score and their ranking for company culture on our site and use this to work out if you should consider them or not. 

Then, click on every single link you can find. Take the time to review their websites, publications, and social media, blog articles thoroughly. Look for any initiatives or events focused on diversity, including any value statements, non-discrimination clauses, sponsorships of programs and events, and general diversity initiatives – if you see none or very few, certainly note that too. Write all of this down, as you might want to ask the employer about these later on. 


“My team was diverse, multiracial, gay and straight, led by a woman.” – anonymous employer review at Paramount Pictures Corporation


Look For Signs Of A Diverse Workforce

Once you have an idea of the companies that you’re interested in, make sure to look for evidence that they already have diverse workforces–and are happy to shout about it. Do the employers explicitly show that they’re proud of being inclusive and respectful of all the people it employs? Larger companies in urban areas may naturally be more diverse but employers that truly value diversity usually want to make that pretty clear no matter where they’re located. 

Use your network

Try to find someone with your particular LGBTQ identity in your field of interest to speak with, they’re experience with job hunting and working for companies within this field will be invaluable. They can tell you which companies they recommend and which ones to avoid. If no one comes to mind, see who you already know and ask around to find someone in your field. 

Equally you could also reach out to your local LGBTQ-serving organizations to find out about networking events and go along to these to find out more about the employers you’re interested in. 


“We recently marched in the Boston Gay Pride Parade as an organization!” – anonymous employer review at The Home for Little Wanderers


Find out what others say about working there

Do you know anyone with your particular LGBTQIA identity who is already working at the company you’re interested in? Or know someone who knows someone? Get in touch with them and ask them  your questions. You could ask them things like – do you feel comfortable at your current company? Do you feel welcome? Have there been any cases of discrimination that you know of? 

Use your application as a test

Only you can decide how open you want to be in your cover letter. We would err on the side of being more conservative, unless you’re really confident thanks to the homework you’ve done. But, coding or outing yourself as queer could mean that if they excitedly call you in for an interview after reading your materials, there’s a good chance they’re LGBTQ-affirming and therefore a good fit for you. 


“You can be weird, gay or what ever!” – anonymous employer review at Stanley Black and Decker


Consider the benefits on offer

Any company that has a diverse workforce and is LGBTQIA-friendly will also very likely pride itself on offering benefits that appeal to a wide variety of employees. These might include comprehensive health care coverage – including coverage for same-sex spouses or partners–as well as different types of leave, such as paid family leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, and paid sick leave. To get a good idea of the benefits on offer, you can use our employer rating platform, simply type in the name of the employer and have a look at the benefits that real employees have had access to. 

Get to know the company at the interview

You don’t have to wait until you’ve landed the job to really find out whether or not your new employer walks the walk when it comes to welcoming and celebrating all of its employees. The interview process is an opportunity not only for a company to get to know you, but for you to get to know them. There are a number of questions you can ask to find out more about their commitment to equality and inclusion, here are just a few: What are your most important values? How important is diversity to you and what value does it bring to this company? What do you do to make sure everyone feels included and respected? How diverse is the Executive Board?

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Here at kununu we have 40 million reviews of more than 840,000 companies ready for you to use. Every company has a diversity/inclusivity score and multiple reviews written by real employees. We wish you the best of luck finding the next great employer for you and happy Pride!  

 

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