When you are looking for a job, there are usually a lot of different pieces that you need to consider. Of course, you need to find a role that fits your prior experience and background as well as one that allows room for professional growth. But, you also want to make sure that the company and culture makes you feel comfortable, safe, and supported.
As an LGBTQ+ individual or ally looking for a job, there are a lot of additional questions you want to consider before you accept a role. In order to be your most successful self, you need to be able to be authentically you in your job. If you do not feel like your organization is inclusive and supportive of LGTBQ+ people, then you will not be able to grow professionally or personally.
So, how can you find a job at a company that is LGBTQ friendly? At Pathrise, we work with job-seekers every day who are looking for roles in companies that will support and protect them and so we wanted to share our advice to help you do the same.
Research the company
In all cases, we recommend doing research on a company before you apply and definitely before you interview. For LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, it is especially important for you to focus your research to see if they have a history of supporting and protecting their LGBTQ+ employees.
We suggest that you start with your local LGBTQ chamber of commerce websites so you can see which companies near you have aligned themselves with LGBTQ+ communities and employees. We also recommend reviewing the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which is “the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees.” In the 2020 report, there were 686 major businesses that earned a top score of 100. These organizations have been labeled the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality.” Some of these companies are:
- Accenture – consulting – HQ is in New York City
- Box – tech – HQ is in the Bay Area (Redwood City)
- Facebook – tech – HQ is in the Bay Area (Menlo Park)
- Groupon – consumer – HQ is in Chicago
- Microsoft – tech – HQ is in Seattle area (Redmond)
- Salesforce – tech – HQ is in the Bay Area (San Francisco)
- Warby Parker – consumer – HQ is in New York City
- Zillow – consumer – HQ is in Seattle
You should also spend some time checking out the company website, Glassdoor reviews, and any other public content about the organization to see if you can determine their level of support for LGBTQ+ employees and causes. A lot of companies have general equal opportunity language in their applications, but does this company include queer-friendly events or internal groups? Are their health benefits LGBTQ+ inclusive? If you can’t find the answers to these questions online, write them down and remember to ask them during your interviews.
You can also start your search with LGBTQ+ inclusive job boards, like Include.io, so you know you are looking at companies where you can be your full self from the very beginning.
Talk to your peers and allies
If you are looking to find a company that is LGBTQ+ friendly, you might want to reach out to your network of LGBTQ peers and allies to see where they are working, where they have had good experiences, and where they suggest you stay away. While you should not depend on other queer people to tell you the answers to all of your questions, you can definitely tap into your network and set up informational interviews or coffee chats to get the lay of the land.
You can also check out Meetup and Out in Tech for LGBTQ+ professional gatherings (in-person when safe to do so and online) so that you can expand your network. This is a great way for you to meet new people and learn about their organizations so that you can decide what is a good fit for you. These interactions can also lead to referrals, which are a great way to get your foot in the door of a company.
Use your applications and interviews to ask the tough questions
Some people are comfortable disclosing their sexuality in their applications and some decide to wait until they can test the waters. This is 100% up to you and there is no right way to do it. Discrimination is still very real, but it is fair to say that if you come out in your application and you receive an interview, it is more likely that the company is LGBTQ+ friendly.
In your interviews, keep your ears open for potential microaggressions or discriminatory practices. If these occur, you can choose to bring it up to the interviewer politely (for example, “Please remember that I use he/him pronouns”) and see if they listen. It is possible they have not worked with LGBTQ+ employees in the past and they are still learning. However, if this environment requires you to spend too much time educating your coworkers, it might not be a good fit for you.
You should also prepare a number of questions to ask at the end of your interview. Here are some good examples that can help you determine if they are LGBTQ+ friendly:
- “How would you describe the culture?”
- If you are being interviewed by a woman or person of color you can ask:
- “Do you feel comfortable here?”
- If you are being interviewed by a senior team member:
- “What does this company do to ensure that minorities feel safe and comfortable?”
- If you are being interviewed by someone from people ops or human resources:
- “Can you describe how the company is working towards diversity and inclusion goals?”
- “Does the company do any diversity trainings as part of onboarding or at other times?”
- If you are comfortable being perceived as queer, you can ask a more direct question like:
- “What does this company do to ensure that LGBTQ+ people are supported?”
- Particularly if you are a trans candidate or looking to start a family soon, you might want to ask:
- “How is this company’s health plan equitable for trans employees as well as those who adopt children?”
If you are onsite, you should also keep your eyes open. What is the bathroom situation in the office? Do they have a strict dress code? Is the staff diverse? If they have photos of leadership, check to see if there is an even distribution based on race and gender (you can also potentially find this information online). These can help you decide if the company is working towards an inclusive environment or not.
With the above tips and guidance, you should be well on your way to finding a company that will support and protect you as an LGBTQ+ employee.
If you are looking for additional help with your job search, Pathrise is an online mentorship program that works with people on all components of their job search. If you are interested in joining the program, become a Pathrise fellow.