Tagged: queer

Not Just for 7 Million* Gay People

Hooray for more research! Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Karen Sumberg of the Center for Work-Life Policy have published an article in the Harvard Business Review outlining their study on coming out at work.

They’ve found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees who reveal their sexual identity are generally more successful. From the article:

Our research suggests that many are hiding needlessly and that “out” workers may stand a better chance than closeted workers of being promoted (although there are still relatively few openly gay senior executives). This appears to be the case largely because closeted workers suffer anxiety about how colleagues and managers might judge them and expend enormous effort concealing their orientation, which leaves them less energy for actual work. Further, LGBT workers who feel forced to lie about their identity and relationships typically don’t engage in collegial banter about such things as weekend activities—banter that forges important workplace bonds.

What good news! That we already knew.

Now let’s do an exercise. For a moment, let’s not only consider the LGBT population; let’s think about everybody at work. Nearly everyone at work struggles in some way to be fully open about who they are. So we’re going to substitute “humanity” for “orientation” in the paragraph above, and omit the terms “gay” and “LGBT.”

So once more, this time thinking about all people:

Our research suggests that many are hiding needlessly and that “out” workers may stand a better chance than closeted workers of being promoted (although there are still relatively few openly gay senior executives). This appears to be the case largely because closeted workers suffer anxiety about how colleagues and managers might judge them and expend enormous effort concealing their orientation humanity, which leaves them less energy for actual work. Further, LGBT workers who feel forced to lie about their identity and relationships typically don’t engage in collegial banter about such things as weekend activities—banter that forges important workplace bonds.

Mostly works, right? Regardless of what specifically you may be striving to conceal about your self, it’s increasingly evident that hiding is detrimental to your career. Seven (7) million* gay people can’t be the only ones to benefit from coming out at work. Clearly there’s opportunity for everybody!

If you’re wondering what parts of your self can be liberated on the job, look no further.

We love how this research supports the broad viability of bringing your whole self to work.

So what are you waiting for? What would you love to reveal about your self at work, that you haven’t already?

* Estimated number of LGBT employees in the U.S. private sector

Photo via

Come Out and (Press) Play


June is LGBT–lesbian, gay, bi and trans–Pride month, when queer folks and allies come together in the name of pride and the pursuit of equality, inside and outside of the workplace.

Coinciding with the occasion, In the Life Media has produced a series of videos called “LGBT Executives Speak Out” in which corporate and non-profit leaders reveal their advocacy work. Press the play button to view the segment above, which features Bobby Wilkinson of State Farm Insurance.

The series is an interactive supplement to “A Message of Hope” viewable in its entirety here.

How do you like the videos?

Image via

Apple Inc. to Employees: “Bring It” [video]

Revealing your internal world on the job is usually a product of your own efforts. Your environment can play a part in your opening up, too, and some organizations are better at this than others.

Enter Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) contribution to the “It Gets Better” Project, started by Dan Savage to help prevent the suicide of teenagers and young adults who feel threatened because of their sexual identity.

Employees of Apple have created a truly heartfelt video, one that dares to depict the pain–and tears–of coming out to oneself and to others. In doing so, they’ve produced a powerful recruiting tool, as elements of Apple’s culture are fully on display.

What company values are inherent in the 6-minute segment?

  • Community service. Apple dedicated financial, personnel, and technological resources to offer their take on a societal problem.
  • Verbal ability. Everybody is so well-spoken, to be a member of the organization is to have top-notch oral communication skills.
  • Integration of multiple identities. Within the lesbian, gay, bi and transgender population at Apple, we see diversity in visible attributes such as race, age, gender and ability. It sounds like every individual’s voice is heard, too.

In this manner, the executive leadership encourages employees to “bring it.” Bring your invisible identities, bring your life stories, bring the intensity of your feelings–so profound!–and bring the corresponding tears, too. The prompt to bring all of your strengths and vulnerabilities must bring about a certain freedom in employees. Now when was the last time you felt free at work?

Indeed the open culture pays off. Apple maintains legions of consumers who breathlessly await the launch of the next uber-cool product, the iPad2 has been an instant best-seller, and the stock currently hovers around $330 a share.

UPDATE 5/2/11: Even though in 2010 Apple took over Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company, in the first quarter of 2011 it surpassed Microsoft in net income, too. Not surprising from a company that encourages employees to leverage their full humanity on the job.

What do you think of the video?

Photo via allaboutapple.com

360-degree look at AC

This post was originally published by me on 11/3/09 at comingout925.wordpress.com. It’s reprinted here with minor copy edits.

Our friends at Gawker can’t. stop. talking. about Anderson Cooper’s boyfriend, Benjamin Maisani. They’re flabbergasted that AC is associating with such a handsome fellow when he’s yet to make an official statement that he’s gay as Neil Patrick Harris and Wanda Sykes have.

Once upon a time, saying you were “a friend of Dorothy,” a reference to the Wizard of Oz, was code for “I’m a big homosexual.” The CNN anchor has been seen with Kathy Griffin, perhaps today’s equivalent of Dorothy. Does this mean he’s out? Not so fast.

Since this is a blog about what it means to be gay at work, let’s look at two sides of the dilemma. Staying in the closet can ensure that you keep people guessing, and thus, talking about you. That’s good PR. Coming out, however, could mean losing segments of your audience. That’s bad PR. It’s PR nonetheless, and we know the adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity.

I think mostly, it’s scary as hell to come out on the job, even when you’re not the high-profile, good-looking son of Gloria Vanderbilt. Sounds like The Coop may fear the unknown in not publicly acknowledging what his relationship with Mr. Maisani means. (Note to Anderson: Certainty is overrated.) That his show’s ratings were down earlier this year is not unrelated.

What would be the benefits of revealing to his audience his true identity? For one, a huge dollop of relief. He would spend no more energy dodging questions or playing with pronouns, and would focus solely on researching news and hosting his show. His newfound openness would influence the nature of his news reporting, and his style on-air may likely become more relaxed, and more watchable. If he made a big declaration in coming out, he’d make headline news, grab the top spots on blogs and land the covers of magazines. How would that be for generating ratings for AC 360?

In an interesting precedent, on the cover of the November 2009 edition of Details, openly gay American Idol Adam Lambert describes how women throw their panties at him during his concerts. The fantasy of bedding him lives on, even after he shared the truth about his sexuality to the world.

While the folks at Gawker behave like your colleagues who won’t shut up about your sexual orientation because you don’t say a word about it, quieting their chatter by coming out with the truth can help all of us think a little more clearly.