Revealing your identity to coworkers, supervisors, or clients can be intimidating. However, coming out at work can improve work performance and drive success. For transgender or non-binary people, coming out may not be optional, but necessary. Yet for others, coming out at work may not be possible for personal or professional reasons.
According to the Harvard Business Review, people who are completely out and open about their sexuality at work are more satisfied and enthusiastic about their jobs. On the other hand, those who are not out at work can face increases in social stress and depression. If you are considering coming out, check out Glassdoor’s workplace guide for LGBTQ professionals along with the steps below to help you get through the process.
Know the Company
Before choosing to come out at work, it is a good idea to understand company policy and culture. Look into their non-discrimination policy to be sure that you will be legally protected. Also take time to research the health coverage and insurance policies. Will you and your spouse be covered under their health insurance?
Although company policies and procedures can protect you legally, it is impossible to legislate people’s feelings. So before choosing to come out, you should do your best to get an idea about the workplace climate. Get a feel for the environment and if they will be friendly and accepting. You can try looking into the HRC Corporate Equality Index, which provides national ratings on corporate policies and practices for their LGBTQ employees.
There are several things you can do at work to begin to come out to your colleagues. One is to identify an LGBTQ friend or ally as a support person who you can inform about your decision. You can also put pride stickers or pictures of you and your partner on your desk as small visual cues to colleagues. Additionally, you can bring your partner or a date to a company function or event. You can even simply mention your partner in a conversation with a coworker.
There is no right way to come out, at work or otherwise, and it is a different experience for everyone. Moreover, coming out is a personal decision that you have the power to make on a case by case basis. Hopefully, some of these tips will be helpful with your decision to come out at work. If you truly do not feel that you can come out comfortably, consider seeking an inclusive workplace in the long term, as it will most likely lead to a happier work experience overall.
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