Whether you’re looking for your first role or a new job opportunity, I do hope you’re feeling more comfortable and confident about being your authentic self in the workplace.
But if the thought of being out at work still sounds scary, then do consider coming along to one of our free role model workshops and meeting other LGBT+ people in advertising and marketing. You’ll build a personal development plan to help you get there.
I’ve put together a short checklist of the things I wish my 21-year-old self had the confidence to look for in an employer. I hope you find it useful as you ponder your next career move. Any decent boss will have a positive attitude to inclusion and diversity, so please don’t be afraid to ask them some direct questions. The best kind of manager will respect you for it, as long as you demonstrate similar respect.
I’m guessing you will have researched the company to make sure you can answer the interview questions, but don’t forget to specifically research their LGBT+ track record. For example, have they spoken out in support of LGBT+ issues? Look for any hints of past discriminatory behaviour. If there were any, what steps have they taken to avoid this happening again?
And as we work in marketing and advertising, how do their consumer-facing advertising and their recruitment communications feel? Do they literally present a diverse and inclusive range of consumers and employees?
Once you’re engaged in their recruitment process, consider if that felt inclusive. For example, did they say they first screened with anonymised CVs?
And if you get the chance to meet, think about your first impressions. When you visited their premises, how did it feel? Would you describe it as a happy and welcoming workplace? Were people smiling and chatting to each other? Did you see gender-free toilets in public areas?
Would you describe the interview process as inclusive and welcoming? What kind of people met you? Did they mention any of their diversity and inclusion strategies and policies? Ask to see their Gender Pay Gap statistics. All companies with 250 employees or more must do this nowadays. So, how do they compare to their competitors?
Ask to see a copy of the employee handbook. Review the diversity and inclusion policy in detail. Are there specific LGBT+ inclusive policies and practices? Is there a stated zero tolerance of homophobia, transphobia and all other forms of discrimination? What about LGBT+ parenting and adoption? Is there a specific transitioning policy?
One big positive factor for me would have been the presence of out LGBT+ senior leaders or spokespeople. They’re still rare, but it would have said so much to me and I’m sure would have given me the confidence to come out sooner and guided me to be my authentic self.
And if you’re considering working for a larger company, does it have an active LGBT+ network? And if not, ask if they’d like you to start one. At the same time find out if it has other employee networks like a BAME group or a parents’ group.
In an ideal world your new employer will be a trailblazer and they’ll be listed in the Stonewall Equality Index. If they’re not, ask them if they’ve considered it. And ask if there’s inclusion and diversity training for everyone.
There are other little clues too, like does the company have a dress code? And if so, is it non-discriminatory?
And once you’ve got the job, does your employer ask questions about everyone’s gender identity and sexual orientation? Normally the ones who care do ask, as they are monitoring their diversity carefully.
So, plenty for you to consider. And at the end of the day you should make a balanced judgement including rational and emotional factors of which LGBT+ inclusion will play a part.
Like two thirds of all LGBT+ university graduates, I went straight back into the closet as soon as I found my first job. The thought of being openly gay in the workplace seemed an impossibility to me then. But that was more than 20 years ago.
So how are things now? I’m keen to hear what you’ve found in your job hunting from an inclusion and diversity point of view. Who’s good and who’s not so good? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
And best of luck.
If you’d like to join a free PrideAM Role Models Workshop contact the team at email@example.com