There are some helpful lists out there of LGBTQ+ Friendly Employers. But what do you do if you are interested in working at a relatively new or small company that may not show up on those lists? Luckily there are actions you can take to assess just how friendly this company is to LGBTQ+ employees and they are all part of the regular job search: Do your research and ask questions.
When researching your targeted companies, be sure to look at how a company portrays themselves. Is there evidence that they value diversity and inclusion in the following?
- Mission statement/overall profile
- Top management: any minorities and women? Check out Hoovers the Resources for Co-ops section of our website.
- Charities they support
- Website and social media (for proof that the company values diversity in its employees, their customers and vendor partners)
Once you’ve researched the what the company says about itself, check outside sources. What is their recent history (are they walking the walk?) and how have they been rated?
- How has employer been covered in the press?
- Check out the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
- Google the employer for any litigation history. Lawsuits over employment issues may be a cause for concern.
The Company’s Employee Policies and Training can tell you a lot. Check for clues in their:
- Job postings, website or promotional materials – do they include statements about being an Equal Opportunity Employer?
- Zero tolerance policies for discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the employee handbook?
- Ask about training opportunities for employees and managers on diversity issues.
Do they have any LGBTQ+ Friendly Benefits?
- Healthcare coverage for same sex spouses and domestic partners
- Paid family leave (maternity, paternity, adoption) allowed for domestic partners as well as children of a domestic partners, regardless of biological or adoptive status
- COBRA-equivalent benefits for domestic partners
- Bereavement leave for death of a partner or their immediate family.
How about Employee Resource Groups?
Some companies have affinity or resources groups for LGBTQ+ employees. These groups provide opportunities to network and discuss challenges at work and strategies to overcome them. For the company, these groups help lower turnover and increase retention. Organizations may also have a diversity and inclusion office, diversity council or working group focused on employee diversity that includes LGBTQ diversity as part of its mission.
During the recruiting process however, emphasize qualifications
Focus on what makes you a well-qualified candidate for the position: skills, experience, education and abilities. An individual should never have to divulge their gender identity or sexual orientation. If a person decides to come out it should be on their own terms. Unfortunately, protections are not universal, and disclosure can open one up to discrimination. The best approach is to ask general questions re: benefits and diversity initiatives and compare that with your research.
Lastly, if you do get an offer from a company, but find that you are not comfortable working for them after all, it is okay to politely turn down an offer. And all that research was not for nothing, you know more about who you want to work for and who you don’t.
For more information, check our LGBTQ+ resources page for students: https://wit.edu/sites/default/files/coopscareers/LGBTQ%20Student%20Resources.pdf
Research strategies and questions provided by Fast Company: Six Steps for Finding LGBT-Friendly Companies