Over 70 percent of LGBT+ people are hiding their true personality at work in fear that they’ll be discriminated against.
New research shows that LGBT+ people are much more likely to “cover” their true identities in order to be accepted by their co-workers and bosses. Covering is where a person conceals their true identity traits such as sexuality or gender expression, through the way they speak, act or dress.
According to a survey by totaljobs of 4,127 people across the country, the majority (52%) think people should change their personality for work. This is particularly the case for the LGBT+ community and it is evident from the moment that employees first meet their potential new employers. Indeed, two-thirds (64%) of LGBT+ people change their personality for interviews.
In fact, many LGBT+ employees continue to cover their true selves once they have passed probation, with a third (31%) of this community continuing to do so compared to a quarter (25%) of the overall population. This act of covering can even remain beyond traditional working hours, with 5 out of 10 (50%) LGBT+ people saying they keep their guard up at work-related events and company socials.
The research suggests that many UK workers could be doing more to create environments where LGBT+ workers feel they can be their true selves. While almost three-quarters (71%) of people agree that employees should stick up for LGBT+, women’s rights or disability groups, only half (49%) said they would actively do so in the workplace.
There is a clear correlation between the inclusivity of a company and the number of LGBT+ people who cover. Indeed, 7 out of 10 (70%) LGBT+ employees cover their true selves while working at non-inclusive companies.
Overall, there is a clear trend of gay, bisexual and transgender employees feeling they need to cover to meet the expectations of their work environment and their colleagues. A fifth (19%) of LGBT+ people cover because they want to fit into the company and their typical style wouldn’t allow that, compared to 1 in 7 (14%) of the overall population.
Meanwhile, 1 in 6 (16%) cover because they don’t feel their typical style would make a good impression.
Martin Talbot, Group Marketing Director, at totaljobs, said: “There is an assumption that employees should be comfortable expressing their true selves at work. However, this research has identified this is not the case and that a startling amount of people go as far as changing their personality and appearance.
“It is important that companies encourage an environment where the LGBTQ+ community feels welcome. It is staggering that up to 70% of LGBTQ+ employees cover their true selves at work and it is unacceptable that they’re twice as likely as the rest of the population to be victims of discrimination. It is clear that employers need to do more to prioritise the well-being of their LGBTQ+ employees and the inclusivity of their organisations so they feel comfortable expressing their true selves.”