Workplace Diversity: Lavender Ceiling
There has been massive progress in the gay rights movement in the United States these past few decades, but how much do you know about queer history and the gay rights movement in the land of the free? I think that most of you are aware or know that pride month is in June, and my school only started to teach about gay right moment, and of course, this was part of the extracurricular activity and was only done during pride month, and we were told the bare minimum. Important things like the AIDs epidemic were glossed over and were treated like a footnote of queer history when it wiped out more people than the war of Vietnam.
It is essential that we tell the history of our elders else it will be erased from history. This is to say that even as an older Gen Z, I barely learned about the history of my people, and I can guess that people older than me didn’t even realize this much at school. Let’s learn about some of the most important events that impacted queer history and how this still impacts us today, leading to the creation of the lavender ceiling.
What is lavender ceiling?
The term lavender ceiling was derived from the term glass ceiling and has been used since the 1990s. The word lavender has been a term and color that has been historically associated with the queer community and was first used as a pejorative term but has been later reclaimed by queer activists like other slurs. The word and color lavender is now used as an expression of pride. Lavender ceiling refers to an unofficial and invisible upper limit to their professional advancement.
It is the result of systemic bias and discrimination that is based on a person’s sexuality and gender orientation in the workplace and society at large. The terms lavender ceiling and pink ceiling are used interchangeably and refer to the struggle that us queer people face in the workplace. Even though we are legally protected against anti-queer discrimination in the workplace, this doesn’t mean that it is not happening.
The importance of diversity
The lavender ceiling is an ongoing reality for queer employees today, and a 2018 report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) found that nearly 46% of queer people are closeted in their workplace. The HRC foundation also states that 31% of queer employees feel depressed or unhappy at work, and 20% of them are actively searching for a different job. Queer people also make less than 0.3% of the upper echelons of leadership positions, according to a Forbes study in 2020.
Furthermore, 358 fortune 500 companies don’t have a board diversity policy which means that queer people are underrepresented within executive committees and board meetings. This showcases how the lavender ceiling is not only alive and well but is also thriving. This highlights how diversity matters, especially in 2022; a lack of diversity and inclusion drive employees’ way, and this makes them less loyal, leading to talent attrition.
This is why all companies ought to have a diversity board, it is not only the right thing to do, but it is also beneficial for the company and its employees. Some of the benefits of having a diversity board are:
- Access to new market
- Closer connections with customers
- Decreased groupthink
- Ease of talent attraction
- Heightened innovation
- Improved corporate brand
- Improved decision-making
- Increased employee engagement and motivation
- Increased shareholder return
- Investor demand
- Lower staff turnover
- Risk mitigation
Queer talents should be shown that the company has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to workplace discrimination and this should start from the higher up by asking your employees for their pronoun is an excellent way to start because it shows that you care for them and is a way to show that you are an inclusive company. More companies should also recruit queer people in higher-up positions because representation matters and us queer people are usually underrepresented in the workplace.
The fact that 46% of queer employees are closeted and are afraid to come out at work shows us a dark picture of the world we are living in; it shows us that equality hasn’t really been achieved in all levels of society, and some people are still afraid to be their authentic self because they fear the backlash of what it entails.
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