Navigating Cultures of Belonging in the Workplace
This blog is written by CV Viverito, Director, Global Impact Programs, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.
Have you ever left or considered leaving a job because you felt that you did not belong, or couldn’t be your full self at work? Have you known someone who has left or considered leaving for that reason? Unfortunately, the lack of inclusive cultures in the workplace is becoming more and more of a struggle for employees, especially those with marginalized identities such as LGBTQI+ folks. Businesses can have supportive policies in place but still lose talent and customers to a culture that does not align with the policies on paper.
Here at Out & Equal, the premier organization working exclusively on LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion, we help Fortune 500 companies and other organizations worldwide build cultures where LGBTQI+ people can thrive and feel a true sense of belonging.
Around the globe, the rate of LGBTQI+ folks who are out at work varies due to a myriad of social and legal contexts. Approximately three-quarters of LGBTQI+ North Americans and Europeans are out at work while around half from other regions such as Asia-Pacific and Latin America report being out to most of their colleagues1 . Even still, the workplace can often be a greater place of refuge than the home in many places. In India for instance, even though 44% of people are out to their families and about one quarter of employees are out to their colleagues and managers; interestingly, those out to colleagues found greater acceptance in the workplace (85%) compared to those that found acceptance at home (69%)2 . Combine these global trends with today’s Great Resignation, and we see that employees, especially those from marginalized communities, are not going to stay at a company that does not create truly inclusive, respectful, and flexible work environments3 .
So, what does this mean for companies and LGBTQI+ employees and prospective candidates around the world? The private sector has the unique opportunity to leverage its economic and political power and influence to be a force for good. And many companies are already leading the way.
Ninety-three percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation protections in their nondiscrimination policies & benefits, and 91% include gender identity protections – 68% of which extend these protections globally4 . Multinational companies are taking meaningful actions towards securing an inclusive future of work. Bank of America has partnered with Out & Equal to implement the Diverse Leadership Fellowship aimed at increasing the pipeline of out, early- and mid-career, underrepresented LGBTQI+ talent, supporting the development of these leaders, and building inclusive workplace cultures for inclusive recruitment and retainment. JPMorgan Chase has deeply invested in comprehensive programming to develop the next generation of trans and nonbinary leaders through community partnerships, and curated diagnostics, toolkits, resources, and trainings for employers. Just recently, more than 90 companies and organizations employing over 435,000 people in Brazil signed onto a letter in support of LGBTQI+ diversity, inclusion and respect ahead of the general elections, up from 35 companies and organizations in 2018.
How can companies further bridge the gaps between inclusive policies and practices, and workplace culture – or the everyday experiences of their LGBTQI+ employees? At Out & Equal, our partners from countries all over the world were asking us this very question – how do you measure the intangible nature of workplace culture in order to take steps toward progress? The answer lies in moving beyond checklists to the evolution of flexible tools of individual empowerment and organizational change. Our Global Toolkit for Change is one such solution that offers companies a self-evaluation tool to identify and take first steps toward assessing gaps between policy and culture.
As the workplace becomes increasingly global, we will continue to challenge organizations and transform workplaces for LGBTQ+ individuals. With the support of our partner companies, and their willingness to “do right,” together, we can build an environment where everyone thrives and belongs.
About the author
CV Viverito is the Director of Global Impact Programs with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, where they manage programming aimed at advancing LGBTQ workplace inclusion in the US Southern States, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific. Through partnerships with NGOs and multinational and national corporations, they play a key role in the development and implementation of the organization’s global strategy and activities. Drawing from a variety of sources, local experts and stakeholders, they oversee the curation of Out & Equal’s globally-focused content.
CV has previous experience working toward LGBTQ equality and inclusion in the Balkans, India, Latin America and the Caribbean and South Africa through civic leadership trainings, research, and international conferences. With over ten years of experience working to advance LGBTQ equality, both in the US and around the world, they are passionate about creating change through an intersectional community-driven framework. CV speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese.
- 1 McKinsey & Company. “LGBTQ+ Voices: Learning from lived experiences.” June 2020.
- 2Mingle. “The Indian LGBT Workplace Climate Survey 2016.” 2016.
- 3Frank, T.J., 2022. Marginalization and the great resignation: Not pursuit, but escape. FEI. https://www.financialexecutives.org/FEI-Daily/February-2022/Marginalization-and-The-Great-Resignation-Not-Pur.aspx
- 4Human Rights Campaign. “Corporate Equality Index.” 2022.
- Enabling Environment