September 2nd 2008 – San Francisco, CA and Rochester, NY
Majority of Americans Agree that Transgender Employees Should be Judged by Job Performance, not Gender Identity
According to a recent national survey, seven out of ten heterosexual adults (71%) agree that how an employee performs at their job should be the standard for judging an employee, not whether or not they are transgender. The new survey also showed that nearly eight out of ten (79%) heterosexual adults strongly or somewhat agree that how an employee does his or her job should be the standard for judging an employee, not their sexual orientation.
The survey also revealed that a majority of heterosexual adults are supportive of marriage-like workplace benefits for same sex couples virtually across-the-board. For example:
Three out of four (75%) heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive leave when they lose a spouse/partner or close family member.
More than two-thirds (68%) of heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive leave rights for family and medical emergencies as outlined in FMLA.
And, almost two-thirds (64%) of heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive untaxed health benefits under federal law.
These are some of the key findings from the 7th annual national Out & Equal Workplace Survey, whose outcomes are captured for the first time in a comprehensive Workplace Culture Report, highlighting the trends towards full acceptance in today’s workplaces towards LGBT employees, their partners, spouses and families.
The 2008 Out & Equal Workplace Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive® in conjunction with Out & Equal and Witeck-Combs Communications, among 2,637 U.S. adults, of whom 343 self-identified as, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Beginning in 2002, this survey is an annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and is the longest-running survey of its kind.
David Krane, Vice President for Public Affairs and Policy Research, Harris Interactive, said,
"Opinion trends can offer critical benchmarks for policy decision-makers. An in-depth report like this gives us a higher degree of confidence testing American attitudes on sensitive questions such as workplace discrimination. We are very proud to partner with Out & Equal and Witeck-Combs Communications to conduct these key opinion studies."
"It’s encouraging that heterosexuals appear more and more committed to ending these forms of employment discrimination and to extending equal benefits to all employees," said Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse Berry. "Despite these recent strides, however, there remain far too few companies and jurisdictions that provide meaningful protections to all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. There is still much progress to be made in today’s workplace and in society itself."
"It is clear that the next frontier when it comes to diversity in the workplace will be protecting gender identity and expression. Recent media visibility has helped to bring this issue into the light and helped put a human face to this complex and sensitive topic. For the first time in U.S. history, Congress held a hearing on the discrimination that transgender people face in today’s workplace." She noted that today more than 300 companies prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or expression as well as 90 U.S. cities and counties.
In addition, support for equal access to benefits in the workplace is almost as strong and also appears unchanged from recent years. Almost two-third (64%) of heterosexuals strongly or somewhat agree that regardless of their sexual orientation, all employees are entitled to equal benefits on the job, such as health insurance for their partners or spouses. Also, nine out of ten (90%) heterosexual adults said they would feel indifferent or feel positively upon learning that a co-worker was gay or lesbian, compared to one of ten (11%) who said that they would feel negatively.
Although attitudes and conditions are improving, LGBT respondents still report experiencing discrimination and many still feel the need to conceal their sexual orientation:
About two of three (65%) of gays and lesbians faced some sort of discrimination in the workplace.
Nearly half (47%) of gays and lesbian adults heard anti-gay comments on the job.
More than one-third (36%) of gays and lesbians say they remain closeted at work.
One out of five (20%) gays and lesbians report being harassed on the job by co-workers.
The survey also suggests that public education is needed on the lack of protections that exist today in the workplace for LGBT employees. Despite high numbers of support for LGBT rights, six out of ten or 61 percent of heterosexuals are still unaware that under federal law it is legal for an employer to fire someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Also, nearly three out of ten (29%) of gays and lesbians are unaware that under federal law it is legal for an employer to fire someone because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The release of this new workplace study comes just one week before the start of the nation’s largest conference dedicated to addressing equality in the workplace for LGBT employees. The 18th annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit will be held September 10-13 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX. More than 2,500 attendees will gather to share best practices on how to achieve workplace equality for LGBT employees. LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human resources and diversity professionals, representing some of the nation’s most prominent companies—a majority from the Fortune 500—are set to participate in this year’s summit.
"The Out & Equal Workplace Summit brings together employees and managers from all types of companies and organizations with a common goal – to understand how to make their workplace free from discrimination," affirms Out & Equal board President Tara Bunch. "Discrimination has no place in a civil society founded on the ideal that all women and men are created equal."