As inconceivable as it sounds, it’s legal to fire someone for being gay throughout much of America. 28 states, to be exact. I hope nobody reading this post would be so heartless (and simple-minded) as to terminate an employee over something as irrelevant as their sexual orientation. But if the ethical implications aren’t enough to discourage a company from this type of immoral firing, perhaps the business reasons will be persuasive. One such reason is the attracting and retaining of top millennial talent.
According to the 2017 Accelerating Acceptance report from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Harris Poll, 20 percent of Millennials identify as LGBTQ. This is a significantly higher percentage than older generations. According to the GLAAD report, the percentages of people who identify as LGBTQ by age group are as follows:
18-34 …… 20%
35-51 …… 12%
52-71 …….. 7%
72+ ……….. 5%
Millennials can be a secret weapon to companies who treat them right. They’re willing to devote themselves to an employer who values them, and they’re more willing than previous generations to work during personal time if needed.
But millennials also tend to place high value on corporate culture. In fact, they report that they’re willing to take a $7,600 pay cut on average for a better quality of work life. Therefore, the importance of creating a culture they love cannot be overstated.
Clearly, you don’t want your LGBTQ millennial employees constantly fearful of being judged, bullied, or outright fired. Millennials can be your most creative and tech savvy employees. But not when they’re paranoid. Once your people become paralyzed with fear and depression, their performance – and possibly your company’s bottom line – drops dramatically.
Even worse than employee paranoia is outright workplace bullying. Consider the following unfortunate statistics from a nationwide survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder:
- 56 percent of LGBTQ employees report being bullied repeatedly at their job
- One in five LGBTQ workers have experienced health issues because of bullying at work
- 41 percent of LGBTQ workers have left a job because they were bullied
- 72 percent of LGBTQ workers do not report their bullying to HR
These numbers should frighten any organization who hasn’t invested time and resources building a culture of respect, equality and the celebration of diversity.
In an Adweek article, Phil Schraeder said it best:
The best and brightest LGBT millennials will have their choice of jobs, and they will choose the companies where they feel they can truly be themselves—companies where all employees can happily put a family photo on their desks, regardless of their sexual orientation. And when these LGBT employees arrive at their new jobs, they will make their new companies strongernot only directly through their work, but also indirectly through the creation of a more diverse and creative workforce.
If you want to attract and keep top millennial talent, make sure they never have to fear losing their jobs because of non-performance related criteria. In your new-hire orientations and employee handbooks, be crystal clear that everyone is accepted for who they are in your company. And, of course, be sure to expend great efforts to create a culture of respect and equality.