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Supportive managers boost LGBTQIA+ professional confidence by 39%

October 4, 2022 - 5 min read


During the month of June, you’ll find many corporations putting up rainbow flags, participating in Pride celebrations, and expressing their allyship to the LGBTQIA+ community. However, how the company treats its LGBTQIA+ employees after Pride month is what really matters

Employment insecurity is higher than ever right now, but it’s particularly high for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Four US Census Bureau surveys about emotional and economic well-being found that LGBTQIA+ respondents reported higher levels of insecurity and emotional distress than other groups. 

For example, 14% of LGBTQIA+ individuals experienced food insecurity compared to 8% of non-LGBTQIA+ people. Nearly a quarter (22%) of LGBTQIA+ individuals reported the loss of employment income in their household compared to 16% of non-LGBTQIA+ individuals. As we enter into another period of economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to learn about the factors that lead to retention and career success among this particularly vulnerable population

We wanted to understand how members of the LGBTQIA+ community felt their identity impacted their professional success. Using the Prolific research platform, we surveyed more than 1200 US-based working adults. Participants included were selected based on their self-identified sexual orientation, with the following breakdown: 721 Heterosexual participants and 522 LGBTQIA+ participants. Respondents were then separated into quartiles based on the reported support of their managers, with low support managers comprising the lowest 25% of scores on the manager items and high support managers comprising the highest 25% of scores on the manager items.

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Manager support plays a key role in boosting the career optimism of LGBTQIA+ employees

Our survey results tell us that manager support plays a crucial role in alleviating employee concerns about discrimination and fostering optimism about future career success in LGBTQIA+ employees.


First, nearly a quarter of LGBTQIA+ folks surveyed believed their identity negatively impacted their potential for professional success. Second, those with low manager support expressed even more negative outcome projections, with 66% saying their identity negatively impacted their potential for career success.

In contrast, those with high manager support expressed more positive outcome projections, with 20% saying their identity negatively impacted their potential for career success. That’s a 47% difference in negative outlook generation based on manager behavior.


Managerial support heavily influenced our participant’s perceived ability to secure the roles they desired. 52% of LGBTQIA respondents felt confident in their ability to get the job they want and only 35% were confident that discrimination would not adversely impact their prospects. Those with low-support managers fared worse, with only 36% feeling confident they could get the job they wanted and 31% expressing confidence that discrimination would not be a factor. Those with high-support managers fared better, with 75% feeling confident they could get the job they wanted and 49% expressing confidence that discrimination would not be a factor.

How organizations can support their LGBTQIA+ employees

Despite corporations celebrating Pride month and an increase in rainbow flags around the office, many LGBTQIA+ employees don’t feel supported and believe their identity negatively impacts their potential for professional success. Employers already understand the importance of managers supporting their staff. But these reports highlight the disparities LGBTQIA+ employees face. 

It’s time for corporate leaders to take initiative to create change. Rainbow flags and acknowledgment of Pride month are great gestures. But there must be substantive actions to help LGBTQIA+ workers feel included and safe and supported. 

One of the key ways companies can do this is to help their managers understand the disparities LGBTQIA+ employees face and what support the organization is able to provide to mitigate those disparities. Managers must be ready to listen without dismissing their worker’s experiences or perspectives just because they haven’t had the same ones, and then do something with that information. Professional coaching has been proven to help managers become better mentors and drive diverse teams to success. 

It’s also important to institute diversity and inclusion initiatives. This will give non-LGBTQIA+ employees the chance to learn how to become better allies. These kinds of programs show your team in a more concrete way that allyship and inclusion are a priority for everyone beyond Pride month. 

Employment insecurities of the LGBTQIA+ community won’t fade overnight. But acknowledging there are disparities and taking steps to improve them will go a long way to support your LGBTQIA+ workers.

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Published October 4, 2022

Erin Eatough, PhD

Sr. Insights Manager

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