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Tips to Finding LGBT Friendly Employers

Guest Author - Barbara Sharpe

For an LGBT person, looking for a job has not only the usual headaches, but a few concerns unique to us. Will it be okay to be out at the new place? Will they offer domestic partner benefits? Things like that.

Even for the most out among us, this can be a challenge. We all handle it in different ways. Some only work for queer places such as nonprofits that serve LGBT people or businesses owned by an LGBT person. Others out themselves in the interview, either by mentioning their partner or some clearly LGBT volunteer experience or by directly asking how the company culture accepts LGBT people.

If your goal is to work for a business or organization that is known to be gay friendly, there are ways you can find that out. One of them is the Human Rights Campaign’s Best Places to Work list. HRC gives you a wealth of information about each company that they consider to be among the best places for LGBT people to work.

For example, if you are an attorney who is moving to Indianapolis, IN, you might wonder if you’ll find a law firm who is LGBT friendly. HRC gives a 100 score to Baker & Daniels, LLP. A number of factors influence the rating, including whether they have a nondiscrimination statement that specifically mentions sexual orientation and whether they offer partner benefits. For complete details on how they calculate that score, you can download their Corporate Equality Index for 2009. There is a link to that report in the Employment link to the left of your screen.

The bigger challenge is deciding if a company who isn’t on the HRC list might be LGBT-friendly. Smaller companies might not make HRC’s list but are still good places for us to work and still be out. The following are strategies that others have used to find out a potential employer’s stance on LGBT issues.

  • Google the company and the company’s leadership. The company itself might not turn up anything, but sometimes their leadership will. You may find that they’ve contributed to LGBT organizations or anti-LGBT organizations. Either will give you an idea of the company culture.
  • Ask someone who works there. If you know someone who already works there, ask for their opinion. It is only an opinion, but it will give you an idea. If you don’t know anyone there and you’re on LinkedIn, search for the company and see if anyone who works there is LinkedIn. Ask that person what they think. This is likely to get you a more guarded response that asking someone who knows you, but you may get some ideas.
  • Ask the Human Resources department, if they have one. Be prepared for a reserved answer because HR people do not want to encourage lawsuits. If the HR representative hesitates, it doesn’t always mean that you will have problems there, but it is one factor to consider.
  • In the section of your resume for “associations” include LGBT organizations. For example, I volunteer for the national professional organization that I belong to – on their committee to create content for the LGBT subsite. If that’s on my resume, companies and organizations who aren’t interested in hiring LGBT people aren’t likely to contact me for an interview.
  • In the “what questions do you have?” part of the interview, ask questions like “Will my partner be invited to company events?” The way your hiring manager responds to that will tell you a lot about what it’s really like to work for that person. In my opinion, the best response is matter of fact rather than overly-enthusiastic. Too much enthusiasm generally means (at least in my experience) that the person is uncomfortable but thinks that they shouldn’t be.
  • If you aren’t comfortable being out in the interview until you know more, you could ask questions like “Can you tell me more about the diversity of your staff, such as how many are women, people of color or LGBT?” and “How open are current employees to people of different cultures, religions, ethnicities or sexual orientation?”


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    Content copyright © 2014 by Barbara Sharpe. All rights reserved.
    This content was written by Barbara Sharpe. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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