4 ways to tell if a potential employer is LGBTQ+ friendly during the interview process

In June 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ+ workers could not be discriminated against in the workplace under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though this landmark decision was a move in the right direction, data shows that a lot more work still needs to be done to ensure that all workplaces are equitable and inclusive of LGBTQ+ employees.

Today, nearly half of LGBTQ+ professionals believe that being out will negatively impact their job search, according to data from LinkedIn. Of those who are out, one in three say they have faced blatant discrimination and/or microaggressions in the workplace and one in four say they have left a job because they didn't feel comfortable or accepted.

"It's interesting when you talk about people who are from the queer community or LGBTQ+ community because it's not as easy to walk into a job interview as it would be for me as a Black man to look around and see the Black headcount," says LinkedIn career expert Andrew McCaskill. "You know, it's a little bit easier in a race and ethnicity sort of scenario to get some of those early cues. But, I think for members of the LGBTQ+ community, we have to do even more research on the companies that we're looking to join."

Below McCaskill, along with Josh and Michael Saterman, founders of the diversity, equity and inclusion consulting firm Saterman Connect, share tips for how you can tell if a potential employer is LGBTQ+ friendly during the interview process.

1. They have gender-inclusive benefits

When interviewing for a new job, two of the most important factors that can impact a job seeker's decision are pay and benefits. For LGBTQ+ employees, inclusive workplace benefits can be a sign for how diverse an organization might be, says McCaskill.

"See if they have policies in place such as trans-inclusive health-care coverage or domestic partner benefits," he explains. "Oftentimes, companies will also share on their LinkedIn corporate profile that they have made strides toward having things like gender neutral bathrooms in their office."

If you're unable to find specific information about a company's benefits package online, McCaskill says you should certainly ask about the organization's offerings in an interview because "benefits are a good way to get a feel for if a company is thinking about members of the LGBTQ+ community with a level of specificity."

2. They have specific diversity programs and initiatives

When going on a job interview, Josh Saterman says it's important to treat the interview "like a date" where you ask just as many questions as the hiring manager. For LGBTQ+ employees, he says it's imperative to ask questions about the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion and to ask about any specific employee resource groups they have for LGBTQ+ workers.

For example, he says you can ask questions like, "What are the ways in which you create inclusion at the senior leadership level?" Or, "What type of conversation is the company having around social topics?" Or more specifically, "What ways have you observed the company embracing the LGBTQIA+ community?" These questions, he says, will give you a good sense of how well you might fit into a company.

In the event that you're not comfortable being out at work, Josh says you can ask a broader question such as, "In what ways have you embraced marginalized communities through your recruiting, through your onboarding and through your ability to create connection?" This question, he says will still "allow the interviewer to share their authentic lens and to see if that lens matches yours."

3. Current employees feel comfortable sharing their pronouns

In addition to having gender-inclusive benefits and specific diversity and inclusion programs, Michael Saterman says one other way to gauge how inclusive a company might be is by seeing if it has created an environment where employees can comfortably share their pronouns.

In some cases, you might find pronouns added to senior leadership bios on a company page. In other cases, Michael says you may have to do some digging by looking up a company on LinkedIn and seeing what employees are associated with that organization.

When scrolling he says you might see that some people have put their pronouns beside their name, which could "signal to you that a place is more inclusive than you may know." You may also see from LinkedIn, he adds, how inclusive and diverse a company is from a racial and ethnicity standpoint as well.

4. Employees from diverse backgrounds are happy

After looking up a company and its employees on LinkedIn, Michael says one way to get further insight on how well you might fit into an organization is to reach out to current and former employees from diverse backgrounds.

"Pick a few people at random and try to make a connection," he says, while advising job-seekers to connect with people who work in the same department they're interviewing for, as well as those who work in different departments.

"If you're interviewing for a tech job, also deliberately try to pick someone who is not in the tech department because that can showcase how far diverse voices can spread within that organization," he says.

When reaching out, McCaskill adds that you will want to ask questions like, "Is this a place that is psychologically safe?" And, "Is this a place where I can come to work, I can be myself and I can make a difference?"

Asking current and former employees about their experience at a company, McCaskill says, can really be a critical step in helping job-seekers find out "what is really happening inside the walls of a company."

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