How amazing it would be if everyone accepted you no matter what. It can be such a struggle to go to work every day where you can’t be yourself. However, despite progress in recent years, the real world is a far cry from that ideal. While coming out at work can be liberating for some, many others are still afraid it may cost them their jobs.
Sadly, LGBTQ workers still face isolation and harassment after coming out in the workplace. In the United States, 50% of the LGBTQ workforce doesn’t disclose their identity to their immediate superior. Still, you deserve to be your authentic self, no matter where you are.
If you’re debating whether to come out or not, consider the following:
Being open can increase productivity
Knowing that you don’t need to pretend to be someone else at work can increase job satisfaction and output. Spending less energy masking your true self may result in less stress and more energy to complete tasks. Long-term, your openness could help advance your career and improve your professional relationships.
Think about the work culture
Even though many companies promote inclusion and diversity, not all are able to do so. An already challenging situation could become much more difficult if you work in a male-dominated field. Unfortunately, coming out in these industries can sometimes damage a person’s career and prevent them from forming crucial connections.
Before you make a decision, try to observe how your coworkers discuss LGBTQ issues and how they behave when other employees come out. This may help you gauge how they will respond when you do.
Sexual orientation is a protected class
In the United States, there are laws that protect you from workplace discrimination. Your employer should not use your sexual orientation to make job-related decisions such as firing you, lowering your pay or excluding you from promotions.
Despite these legal protections, employers may still terminate an employee by finding a workaround.
Keeping your identity a secret at work can be very isolating and suffocating. Work takes up a significant portion of your life, so coming out can take a weight off your shoulders. However, not all stories have happy endings. If you experience discrimination at work, you may file a complaint with the relevant government agency or contact an employee discrimination lawyer for help.