Speak Out: Workplace Discrimination

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There’s no question that gay people have managed to gain some rights over the years, chief among them the right to marry. That said, it doesn’t mean that discrimination against gay people no longer exists.

In a study put out by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, it was discovered that gay men are “significantly” less likely to reach high-level managerial positions. The study involved data from almost 650,000 working-age adults in the United Kingdom.

The study found out that despite having the same skills as straight men, gay men are less likely to climb higher in the corporate ladder. Despite being outperformers in lower level managerial roles, they are less likely to be considered for higher-level managerial positions with higher status and higher pay. Gay men who are also racial minorities are even further impacted by this “gay glass ceiling”.

As stated in the paper: “We find evidence that women and non-white men are disadvantaged in attaining high-level managerial posts.”

It’s not just gay men who are experiencing it either. Both bisexual men and women are “significantly less likely than otherwise similar heterosexual adults to have any of the types of workplace authority.”

The paper called on corporations to put more sexual minorities in higher-level managerial positions to combat this disparity, saying it “potentially increases access for those further down the managerial/supervisory ladder.

“As with representation of women and minority groups on corporate boards, there is the potential to shift to a more representative outcome more broadly within the organization,” it stated.

Have any of you guys experienced workplace discrimination? Have you ever been passed over for a promotion because of your sexual orientation? If you’re one of the people who’ve made it up the corporate ladder, what have you been doing to help out equally talented and deserving gay co-workers? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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  1. Eric

    A person should get a job because the are the best candidate for the job, not just because the happen to fall into a “special” category. I have seen more than once, a company decided to promote their token gay to appeal to the PC crowd, and it usually doesn’t go very well. They quickly hire every unqualified gay friend they have, the atmosphere turns almost high school, and the qualified employees leave.

    On the other hand, I have seen the most qualified person, who also happens to be gay, get a position and do very well in it.

  2. Bandile Ndzishe

    I am one of the few openly gay black African men who has made it up the corporate ladder as a C-level marketing executive. It has not been easy, especially here in Africa. I live in Cape Town, South Africa and I continue to fight for my basic human right to co-exist with other human beings who also continue to hate me for being openly gay.

    My fighting spirit does not die. For me, it is never exhausting to keep on fighting. I love it. I love a good fight. Maybe I am a gay warrior. Yes, people say that it is very exhausting to always have to fight for what should be considered as basic human rights. I am never exhausted at all, for I understand it all too well, that the fight to stop the discrimination against LGBTIQ+ workers will never be over. I mean look at women today, they are still discriminated against by the patriarchal world we live in. Women are still fighting the war against discrimination by those powerful men (some not so powerful) because our societal values are strongly entrenched in patriarchy.

    Above all, I live in Africa and we have a very, very long way to go. My undying and undiminishing fighting spirit is needed here. I have to be the gallant fighter for generations to come. You see, today’s human rights issues will only be realised by our youths in the future, not today. Today we are only paving a way for a brighter and better tomorrow with fewer prejudices and bigotry. The gay rights movement began in the 1960s with the Stonewall riots. The people who were children and youths then are now beginning to enjoy some level of protected gay rights, even though there is so much to be done and a long way to go.

    Even if the unjust laws are repealed today, the society remains unreformed. Today we plant the seeds and pave the way. The youths get to enjoy the fruits of our hard toil tomorrow. They get to live a better life tomorrow and continue to reinforce the values we instilled in them in future generations.

    What have I been doing to help out equally talented and deserving gay co-workers?

    As an openly gay Corporate Marketing Executive with over 20+ years’ experience in Corporate South Africa, I am very passionate about human rights issues, especially LGBTIQ+ workplace and business inclusion and equality at the major employers. Whenever I have time I help and consult on the implementation of equitable strategies, policies, benefits and practices for LGBTIQ+ workers in Africa.

    On a part-time basis, I run an organization called Bandzishe Foundation, which champions LGBTIQ+ Workplace Inclusion & Equality at the Major Employers by leading, helping & consulting on the implementation of equitable strategies, policies, benefits & practices for LGBTIQ+ workers in Africa.

    The issues of LGBTIQ+ Workplace Inclusion policies repeatedly make the agenda of the World Economic Forum in Davos. It’s top of mind for global business leaders.

    Workplaces are where a country’s population spends most of its time every day & are the best places for the eradication of hate, stigmatisation and marginalisation of LGBTIQ+ people.

    My foundation exists as a part-time organisation only. This is due to a lack of funding. All my application for funding were turned down. I left no stone unturned by in vain. I would love to run my foundation on a full-time basis with full-time staff compliments to help and consult on the implementation of equitable strategies, policies, benefits and practices for LGBTIQ+ workers.

  3. Andy

    Yes i worked in architecture and i felt set up to fail from being belittled by straight guys, undermined by my manager, and then when my performance and morale began to suffer from the mistreatment The upper managament wrote me up for popr performance. I have a degree which i find worthless now because the entire field is the same. If i go back i will end up assassinating whoever treats me like that.

  4. Hunter0500

    In my almost 40 years in business, I can happily say I’ve only encountered discrimination once. And it was indiect. A guy in a meeting comented, out of the blue, ” is this sweater gay?” I responded “not unless it jumps on the table with a sweater just like it.” With no smile on my face. He shut up. Weeks later he made a similar kind of comment. no one in the meeting responded. After the meeting, I told our manager “if the makes any kind of gay comment again, I’ll take it to HR.” Not sure what happened, but there were no more gay comments.

    Beyond that, at times people have often made comments about gays, but the comments were never about their being gay and never discriminatory. Comments were always about the gays being loud, disruptive, attention whores, discussing more about sex than was workplace appropriate, difficult to work with, etc. Self-centered behavioral issues, over sexual orientation.

    Fortunately, my employers for the last 20 have had anti-dicrimination policies in place. With the exception of the one guy above, anyone’s being gay has not been an issue. In fact, there has often been friendly discussion such as what people did with their same sex partners over the weekend.

    It all goes back to the growing prevalence of people not caring you’re gay as long as you don’t make it an issue and don’t throw it in their faces.

    • Hunter4B

      Well, you sound like a good example for those people! I doubt they realize who you are because you don’t fulfill the stereotype THEY created. I know and work with plenty of cool, non-obnoxious, great people, who ALSO happen to be gay. I also dig how you handled the “Is this sweater gay” guy … lol – just don’t forget many times the super homophobic guy is often using that skill to try to throw others off his scent (me gay? how could that be, I am so ANTI-gayyyyy LOL)!

  5. Ernest Holloway

    Look I know I may be hated for this but keep your home life out of the work place. I don’t get paid to be gay I get paid to work. I dont care what others are doing or who there doing it with. I’m sorry but everyone need to mind there own business when they go to work.

    • Matt

      Indeed. What’s ironic is that this post is about discrimination against gays and comments that do not fall into line with the desired narrative of the blog are not published.

    • Hunter0500

      Ernest, a buddy of mine recently told me after starting a new job about a year ago that he didn’t hide being gay, but he never told anyone he was. About six months in after many casual break and lunch discussions, he felt comfortable in discussing who”we” were. His co-workers, he says, did t skip a beat. By that point they’d figured out what a great guy he was. His being gay was “so what?”

    • Hunter4B

      That makes total sense, though straight people get to put photos of their loved one’s on their desks, and there are times when people talk about LIFE, so boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands and wives DO come up in brief conversations. Also, I believe most of us are cool with everyone sharing any opinion they wish here. However, when it gets nasty with name calling or someone is made the butt of the comment then yeah, I believe it needs to be moderated. Huge difference between saying “I disagree,” and saying “I disagree because you are a #&%$&@” …

  6. Joe M.

    As Brian on Q.A.F. once said, ” There are only two kinds of str8 people those that hate us to our faces and those that hate us behind our backs.”. I have risen to where I have in my career because I have never told anyone in the firm I work in that I’m gay. It saddens me that we still live in this kind of world but it is true. I have seen countless other “open” gay guys in my firm let go, not promoted, or laid off. It also saddens me that the that the younger generation of gay guys (who came bursting out of the closet in Jr. High) think that everyone loves “the gays”. It’s not true. If you want to be fabulous, out, and Gay at work; you will find yourself in a minimum wage job at middle age.. WAKE UP GAY PEOPLE!

  7. JJ

    I was an assistant manager of a big box and I stayed closeted at work. Well I decided no more and I announced to my management team that I was gay at first it seemed ok. But then things started changing, I was brought up on a sexual harassment suit by a woman, but never told what was said. They wrote me up on a final and I was told anything else and I would be fired. I made a simple mistake in my 5 month and they terminated me after 13 years of service. So discrimination is still out there but i hope it changes soon. JJ

  8. Michael Anthony

    women, you aren’t mentioning the discrimination that straight/lesbian women exert towards gay men. women advance faster in the workplace and account for most HR department personnel in entry level job positions. ive had women openly call me out for wearing makeup in front of all my co workers. i’ve interviewed with women who gave me hateful looks because they can tell im gay . I’ve had women who gossiped about me to get me fired or picked on me until i quit. I’ve had worse experiences with white women than i’ve had with white heterosexual men . White Women are able to be more open about their prejudice because nobody calls them out on it since they are classified as “minorities” . Women are not minorities , the real minorities are non white gay men . white gay men are always given more sympathy because they are more heavily represented in media , just like this ad where the display picture is of a white male .

  9. HungBlkTop4Fun

    Speaking as a gay black man, why don’t we just concentrate on ending ALL forms of discrimination rather than concentrate on whether the victim is gay, black, female or any other “disadvantaged” group? I can honestly say that I have received FAR more hatred from people who don’t know me because of my skin color rather than my sexuality.
    Rather than worrying about what affects just one particular group of people, if we concentrate our efforts on helping everyone, the problem (which is societal) could be eradicated much quicker… FOR EVERYONE. Privatization of self-interest is what’s destroying us. For those of you who don’t know what that is, look it up. A good place to start would be with Michael Parenti’s book ‘Democracy For the Few”.

    • Marcus

      Nice handle sir,
      As an African American male as well, you’re asking for a miracle when you say more or less say we need to concentrate on ending discrimination as a whole. I agree with you 150% that it needs to end. Its no excuse for one class of people to think they are superior to another. I was raised in the 60s and 70s and things were getting a lot better when it comes to race relations until recently for some strange reason I see us good backward ala Charlottesville and that Thing in the white house…My take on gays in the workplace in regard to discrimination; My God, if you ever worked under a gay person. I find them to be very unstable, overly sensitive, argumentive, arrogant, testy, aggressive, over-reactive and dam right mean!!!! If they come to work in a bad mood, look the fuck out!!!! I’m not sterio-typing, just going by my OWN personal work experience.

      • soft & fluffy

        And me , living a place where whites are by far the minority , I’ve had people of color hate on me solely because of the color of MY skin without even knowing me.
        In all my years I’ve faced way more racial hate than gay hate , trust me.
        Welcome to the club !

        • Bill Rose

          I’m a 56 year old gay white male, been on my job for 15 years. I was approached one day by a fellow black employee who went on to tell me that he had been racially discriminated against the night before while tying to cash a $100 bill at 10 pm. what the HELL his name is Michael Jones…I asked him where and he said South Dallas by his home, when I told him no one cashes large bills that late he said it was because he was black and racially profiled. When I replied that it’s his community why would a black business owner profile him, he said that blacks weren’t allowed to own business’s it was the middle eastern and the Asians. I replied that what he was saying was raciest, and he lashed out at me and replied that he was not a raciest, he would kill my God damn motherfucking fagot ass, I dropped my arms to my side and said lets go…..never raised my voice at all… Boss Mr. B. Weinstein was meeting with an architect about 15 feet from us and all he said was shut up…both of you. My voice was never raised…..I proceeded to tell Mr. Weinstein that that was a hate crime remark and a threat on my life and I was going to file a police report and he said your going to put your Job ask risk? so your willing to risk your job to be exact..i want this to be accurate. I asked him if he was threatening me with my job and he replied that he was only saying I was putting my job at risk. I also have a passed polygraph that stats that everything I said happened and how it happened is 100% accurate (that cost me $350 ) This same employee did the same thing to me twice threatened my life and threatened another employee a black man who said that Mr. Jones could not blame everything on race……This man is still employed with us and I have to look at and work with Him every day. If I bring this up I’m told that that was 3 years ago, 4 years ago…which it has be now right at 4 years but I still think about it every night in my dreams and every day when I walk into work but according to Mr. Weinstein I’m suppose to let it go. I have 2 letters stating that most of the success of our business today is due to me but yet I still have to go to work every day and forget about the threat on my life. One day I was called into the owner’s office Mr. L. Weinstein and was told that I was over heard calling a black employee Mamee….a black slur….and that that was not allowed it set him up for a lawsuit…a lawsuit???? but I’ll Kill your Goddamn Mother fucking Faggot ass is perfectly ok. well shit hit the fan…yes I said after many times not right now I’m working don’t sweep under my feet and it continued I said ok Mamee go ahead your job is more important than mine but it was not intended in that manor. .even including having to watch for several years Mr. B. Weinstein and another female employee carry on in a very inappropriate manor….grope and feel if you know what I mean, I walked around a corner and saw them in each others arms and others complained about it a lot as well for some time.. and Mr. L Weinstein said him and Dottie his wife had put a stop to that because Susan B. a family friend had complained to Dottie the vice president and mother of the younger groper Weinstein…well it continued till the day she left and I got the blame for here leaving???? I know what work place discrimination is and I know what it’s like to have some one play the racist card very well.
          Growing up gay you don’t discriminate….but you lean how after year to speak up for yourself and this is just a small bit of the hate that I have endured as a gay male and the discrimination against white people that Black’s have towards us but to have an employer let someone stay after treating my life and another black mans life is too crazy…simply because that person is Black.

          This same op

    • bjjj

      I agree that all forms of discrimination should end, whether it be because of sexual orientation, racial, religious, nationality, handicap, etc. I doubt though that discrimination will ever truly end. I am white, and my BF/lover is black, however neither of us try to make a scene either racially or because of us being gay. I will say I have mentioned to a couple of my co-workers that we are gay and it didn’t seem to be a problem with either of them. Several of my friends, co-workers, his family, and my family have met him or myself. Most have been quite accepting. I agree the racial thing probably causes more wonder and concern, than the fact of the two of us being gay. Some may not like the idea of us being together, but that’s their problem, not ours. I’m very proud of him and he of me. We help each other out, do things together, travel, and were there for each other when one of us has a problem or gets down about something. When two guys love each other, racial difference or being gay makes absolutely no difference.

  10. Michael

    The first job I ever had while working there my first week several of the women kept saying “I don’t know why they keep hiring all these fags up in here.” I worked there 5 years and was discriminated against a lot. The final straw was when two of my coworkers were using the N word in front of one of my students and then called me a fag behind my back.

  11. Dmytro Shevchenko

    I worked in a working class field 30 years of my life and had to hide being gay to get ahead. I had to listen to gay jokes etc. If I had come out in grade and high school I would have been expelled. I am 59 now and there are church goers who walk by my beautiful home and would never look over to say hello lest they turn to stone.

  12. Lamar

    And you know, what’s really pathetic, sad and cowardly; is when you as a black gay man, work with a white gay man, you’re both openly gay. But when the white gay man sides with the racist
    behaviors of the white hetero co-workers…

    I’ve always said, “united, we stand, divided we fall”, as minorities-people of color, women and LGBTIQ+ period.

    Many groups of us, are not aware that we are such, disadvantaged, only when you come out of the fog and see reality, can you fight effectively. Otherwise, what you have is: all of us in our self- separated groups, fighting for ourselves rather than for each other within our differences; not having the sense to fight together for our common cause.

    Otherwise, we remain divided and then conquered. . .that’s always been a strategy of war, divide your enemies against each other, you know, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” kind of thing.

    Some of ‘us’ are there, within that realization, there are others (self-hating) that simply need to get out of the way, go sit down, have a seat, have two if need be.

    • Hunter0500

      Maybe we need to think less about “others” or “us” or “them” … and a lot more of “we”. Just sayin’

  13. Hunter4B

    It pains me to read how many of you feel this discrimination. Worse, I hate the pressure many of you describe to just be yourself in these situations. I like reading what you guys write, and I will say that every time someone says a bigoted unkind thing, whether I be at WORK or in a SOCIAL engagement, I ALWAYS call it out. Sadly, lots of people come back with “Just Kidding” as if the comedy over rides the subtle hate the comment leaves in the conversation. If it doesn’t work, I eventually curtail my involvement with these people as it becomes toxic to expose myself to their issues. To my black brothers here (I am Caucasian) I hate reading that you get double played on the bigotry, I see it everywhere, but especially in the media. To my Poz brothers here, I hate the disrespect I read here, I will continue to comment when I read that internalized bigotry here.
    I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home with open-minded parents who never taught hate or bigotry, there were subliminal discomforts in regard to homosexuals in the 1970s, but by the 1980s my father had a favorite professor and fellow female student who both just happened to be gay, and my mother was a member of a group that had many gay men in it and there was never a derogatory comment shared (and they are both in their mid 80s! However, they are well educated which tends to make a difference). I guess my point is BIGOTRY is TAUGHT, and I find you guys here a great asset – PLEASE CONTINUE TO MAKE THOSE WHO DISRESPECT YOU SEE IT WRONG. I find the best way to do that is to stay calm and consistent. Eventually, your cool head and commonsense approach will prove you are not a STEREOTYPE. I know I’ve learned a lot from you guys and I absolutely believe they will as well! If you fail, do what you must to remove that toxicity from your lives (including at work seeking help from management, HR, or legal means). To ALL my brothers here, thank you for sharing and making me a better man, keep fighting, I find you amazing!

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