Majority of Americans Want LGBT Employees to Have Equal Workplace Benefits

Monday Oct 11, 2010
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA, WASHINGTON, DC and NEW YORK, NY- October 4, 2010 - According to the 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, nearly eight of ten - or 78% - of heterosexual adults agree that how an employee performs at his or her job should be the standard for judging an employee, not their sexual orientation.

Also, three out of five - or 62% - of heterosexual adults agree that regardless of their sexual orientation, all employees are entitled to equal benefits on the job, such as health insurance for their partners or spouses.

As highlighted above, the survey continues to show that many heterosexual adults believe their LGBT colleagues deserve fairness and equality in the workplace. For example, when also asked about different workplace benefits offered to spouses of married heterosexual employees compared to committed partners of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) employees, 74% of heterosexuals think both spouses and partners should receive leave for employees who experience the loss of a spouse/partner or close family member.

Also, seven out of ten - or 70% - of heterosexual adults think both spouses and partners should receive leave rights for family and medical emergencies as outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act. And, a majority, 63%, of heterosexuals also think both spouses and partners should receive untaxed health insurance benefits.

The 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive® in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck-Combs Communications, among 2,775 U.S. adults, of whom 2,334 indicated they are heterosexual and 386 self-identified as LGBT. Beginning in 2002, this survey has become a trusted annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and is the longest-running national survey of its kind.

There are differences in how committed same-sex relationships are recognized across the country, and these are questions many LGBT employees raise when it comes to planning their careers.

Other factors being equal, 68% of LGBT adults would prefer a job with an employer in a state where same-sex marriages are recognized over an employer in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages. Close to a third - or 32% - of LGBT adults also would consider declining a job promotion if it required them to transfer to a state where same-sex marriages are not recognized.

Also, 31% of LGBT adults agreed they would consider changing jobs if their employer required them to transfer to a state where same-sex marriages were not recognized.

"Employers that offer the same benefits to both heterosexual and same-sex couples are at a competitive advantage over ones that do not," said Out & Equal Founding Executive Director Selisse Berry. "Recruiting and retaining the best possible employees is what defines a company’s potential in their industry segment. Out & Equal is committed to providing corporate leaders the essential tools to get there."

The survey also shows how conditions in the workplace have improved in the past decade for LGBT workers. For instance, only about one in five - or 18% - of both heterosexual and LGBT adults agree it would be very difficult for an employee to be openly LGBT in their workplace. For the LGBT adults, this is an 11% improvement from 2002 when 31% of LGBT adults agreed it would be very difficult.

However, there are still plenty of strides that need to be made in workplace equality. Only 44% of heterosexual adults agree LGBT people are treated fairly and equally in their workplace.

Here are some views of heterosexual adults on how welcoming their workplaces are to LGBT employees who are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity:

· A majority - or 66% - of heterosexual adults were either neutral or disagreed that they would be uncomfortable if any of their co-workers were openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

· Similarly, 61% of heterosexual adults were either neutral or disagreed that they would be uncomfortable if their boss were openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, is still working its way through the United States Congress since its introduction in 1994.

The survey shows that the majority heterosexuals are supportive of issues that touch the lives of transgender workers. Slightly more than seven of ten - with 73% - of heterosexual adults agree that how an employee performs at their job should be the standard for judging an employee, not whether or not they are transgender.

Also, nearly three out of five - or 58% - of heterosexual adults agree that a person who is transgender is entitled to equal benefits on the job, such as health insurance for their partner or spouse.

However, there seems to be an education gap among adults about ENDA and how current law touches the lives of many LGBT Americans.

More than three out of five - with 62% - heterosexual adults did not know that under federal law today it remains legal for an employer to fire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Almost half - or 47% - of LGBT adults also did not know.

All other things being equal, when making decisions about their own career, many heterosexual adults prefer to work in LGBT inclusive and diverse work environments:

One in two - or 52% - of heterosexual adults said it was extremely or very important that they work for a company that offers equal health insurance benefits to all employees.

Slightly more than quarter - with 27% - of heterosexual adults said it was extremely or very important that they work for a company that is known to recruit employees from a variety of diverse backgrounds.

About one-fourth - with 26% - of heterosexual adults said it was extremely or very important that they work for a company that requires diversity training for all employees.

More than three out of five - with 62% - heterosexual adults did not know that under federal law today it remains legal for an employer to fire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

One in four - or 25% - of heterosexual adults said it was extremely or very important that they work for a company that supports community non-profit organizations that represent the diversity of the workforce and the customer base.

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The release of the new workplace study comes as Out & Equal kicks off its annual Workplace Summit, considered the world’s premier conference on LGBT workplace equality and attracting thousands of participants. The Out & Equal Workplace Summit will be held October 5-8 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human resources and diversity professionals, representing some of the nation’s leading companies-a majority from the Fortune 500-are set to participate in this year’s summit, focused on achieving workplace equality.

For more information about the Summit or to register, please visit www.outandequal.org.

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About Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

Out & Equal Workplace Summit is the largest national nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to LGBT workplace Equality. Every year, the organization hosts the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit that is devoted to furthering workplace equality. This year’s Summit will bring together nearly 2,000 LGBT employees, allies, human resources professionals, LGBT workplace advocates and other committed to achieving equality in the workplace. This year’s speaker lineup is impressive, including Sharon L. Allen, Deloitte’s Board Chair, John Berry, the highest-ranking LGBT official in President Barack Obama’s administration as the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Kevin Brockman, Executive Vice President of Global Communications for Disney-ABC, and Kenji Yoshino, author of "Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights."

In addition to the annual Workplace Summit, Out & Equal offers: Building Bridges Diversity Training specific to LGBT workplace issues; a growing network of regional affiliates that includes New York City, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Chicago, Rocky Mountain, Arizona, Washington, DC, Southern California, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Portland, and Seattle; provides support to LGBT employee resource groups; offers the monthly Town Call speaker series webinars; a national quarterly newsletter; its unique career development website LGBTCareerLink; and the annual Executive Forum.

Out & Equal is headquartered in San Francisco, Calif. Out & Equal champions safe and equitable workplaces for LGBT. The organization advocates building and strengthening successful organizations that value all employees, customers and communities.

For more information, including how to register for the Summit, visit www.outandequal.org.

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EDITOR’S NOTE
To see the data tables, please visit: www.witeckcombs.com/news/releases/20101004_out%26equal.pdf or call 202-887-0500 x14.


Methodology

Harris Interactive conducted the study online within the United States between August 9 and 16, 2010, among 2,775 adults (ages 18 and over), of whom 2,334 indicated they are heterosexual and 362 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (including an over-sample of lesbian and gay adults). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. In addition, the results for the gay and lesbian sample were weighted separately based on profiles of the gay and lesbian population that Harris Interactive has compiled through many different online surveys. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc.

Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc. is the nation’s premier marketing communications and consulting firm, specializing in developing and implementing effective strategies reaching the gay and lesbian consumer market. With over 16 years experience in this unique market, Witeck-Combs Communications not only serves as a bridge between corporate America and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender consumers (LGBT), but also provides counsel to countless non-profit organizations that aim to educate the public on gay and lesbian issues or to better reach their LGBT membership.

In April 2003, American Demographics magazine identified Bob Witeck and Wes Combs as two of 25 experts over the last 25 years who have made significant contributions to the fields of demographics, market research, media and trendspotting for their path breaking work on the gay and lesbian market, and in 2006 Bob Witeck and Wes Combs co-authored Business Inside Out: Capturing Millions of Brand Loyal Gay Consumers (Kaplan Publishing), considered the first-ever book on marketing insights, practical tips and strategies targeting the LGBT market. They have appeared in worldwide media outlets including Fortune, CNBC, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, Ad Age, New York Times and Washington Post. For more information, visit www.witeckcombs.com.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.


Reprinted courtesy of Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc.

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