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New Research: Gen Z LGBTQ+ students & graduates want inclusive workplaces

myGwork’s latest survey not only reveals that more than a third of students and graduates identify as LGBTQ+, but also that the majority of this group are reluctant to join companies where they can’t be out at work. 

The research of over 2,000 students and recent graduates around the world, carried out by myGwork in association with Highered, showed that more than a third (36%) of student and graduates identify as LGBTQ+. It also found that today’s young LGBTQ+ jobseekers desire to work in open and accepting working environments, with three-quarters of respondents expressing reluctance to join organisations where they couldn't be their authentic selves, fearing being discriminated against, facing bias and being given limited opportunities for training or development required to progress.  


Furthermore, the research highlights the importance of seeing visible LGBTQ+ role models in senior roles for this group. Without visible LGBTQ+ senior role, many young LGBTQ+ professionals are unlikely to believe they will be able to get ahead at those companies. In fact, 8 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students and graduates believe that being LGBTQ+ will make it more challenging for them to reach senior leadership positions. 

Additionally, an overwhelming 8 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students and graduates said that seeing visible LGBTQ+ role models in senior positions would significantly influence their decision to accept a job offer made by a prospective employer. The data also showed that LGBTQ+ students/graduates of color attach slightly higher importance to having visible LGBTQ+ role models and allies in leadership roles compared to their White peers.

The research reveals that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity remains common both in the workplace and universities/business schools. Almost half (48%) of all LGBTQ+ students/graduates have witnessed discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity at their place of study or work, compared to just 32% of non-LGBTQ+ students and graduates. Additionally, 36% of all responding LGBTQ+ students/graduates have personally experienced discrimination, such as homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, at their place of study/work.

Moreover, a higher number of LGBTQ+ students and graduates from marginalised ethnicity and racial groups said they witnessed more discrimination based on both their sexual orientation and gender identity (52%), compared to White LGBTQ+ students and graduates (42%). LGBTQ+ students and graduates of color also personally experienced more discrimination – 40% compared to 30% of White LGBTQ+ students/graduates. 

The research also highlights the importance of active corporate allyship, with 8 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students and graduates indicating a reluctance to join companies that have recently withdrawn support for the LGBTQ+ community. This indicates that employers need to think carefully about the impact that withdrawing their support for this community could have on their recruitment and retention initiatives. It also signifies they must work harder to demonstrate their unwavering support and commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion if they are serious about attracting this valuable talent pool.

Currently, very few students and graduates worldwide believe that organizations are taking enough proactive action to be LGBTQ+ inclusive, and the figures are much lower for LGBTQ+ students (5%), compared to non-LGBTQ+ (14%). The research also sheds light on key factors that influence the employment choices of young LGBTQ+ professionals entering the workforce, revealing what credentials they use to assess how inclusive an employer is before even considering applying for a job there.  

"Our latest research goes beyond highlighting industries perceived to be more LGBTQ+ friendly by young job seekers. It provides insights into the criteria LGBTQ+ students and recent graduates seek in inclusive employers and the essential benefits necessary to attract and retain them," stated myGwork’s co-founders Adrien and Pierre Gaubert. “In an era where inclusion and belonging are critical to progressive workplaces, myGwork's research serves as an indispensable guide for organizations aiming to create fair and inclusive environments to attract the valuable talent they need to succeed.” 

Download the full report here.
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