“Out at the Office?!” study on the employment situation of LGBT* people
Lesbian and gay employees are opening up about their sexual identity/the level of discrimination remains high

Year of issue 2017
Date 2017.07.19

The number of lesbian and gay employees who are open about their sexual identity in the workplace has more than doubled over the past decade.

Nearly a third (28.9 percent) of those surveyed discuss this topic openly with all of their colleagues. In 2007, this number was only 12.7 percent. On the other hand, one third (30.5 percent), talk about their own sexual identity to no one or to only very few people in the workplace. In 2007, this was still the case for 51.9 percent of survey participants. People are also becoming more open when talking to their superiors. At the same time, the number of employees reporting ever having experienced discrimination in the workplace remains very high. This was reported by three of four interviewees (76.3 percent).

These are the main results of the “Out at the Office?!” study on the employment situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* employees in Germany, carried out by the Institute for Diversity & Anti-Discrimination research (IDA) in cooperation with Fresenius University, and presented together with the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency on Wednesday. Between February and May 2017, a total of 2,884 lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans* employees participated in the study. The survey is a new iteration of a study of the same name from 2007. For the first time, the situation of bisexual and transgender employees was also taken into account. The study was funded by the Anti-Discrimination Agency.

"Unfortunately, the survey shows very clearly that LGBT* people are experiencing exclusion, bullying and harassment in the workplace", said Christine Lüders, Head of the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, at the presentation of the results in Berlin. "What we also see, however, is that changes in the social climate are being reflected back into the workplace. Many employees can be more open about their sexual orientation today than they could even ten years ago. Organisations can and should support this development by visibly penalising discrimination and promoting an open corporate culture – for example, by increasing diversity training."

Dr Dominic Frohn, scientific director of the IDA, added: "This not only improves the situation of LGBT* employees, but also provides companies with clear benefits. Because, as the numbers show, the more natural it becomes for employees to openly express their sexual identity, the higher their job satisfaction and emotional commitment to their firms. I am particularly pleased that we have been able to achieve a tenfold increase in the share of transgender employees in the new sample, which enables us to make reliable statements on the employment situation of this group for the first time."

The transgender and bisexual employees surveyed also reported that as recently as 2017 “coming out” at work was significantly more seldom than among lesbian and gay workers. Sixty-nine percent of trans* people and 56 percent of bisexual employees are open about their gender or sexual identity with none or only very few of their colleagues, towards their superiors 70 percent and 61 percent respectively. Transgender employees are also subjected far more often to direct workplace discrimination (such as firings, transfers or job denials) than lesbian, gay or bisexual workers.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS for its initials in German) was established when the General Equal Treatment Act (German abbreviation: AGG) entered into force in August 2006. This Act aims to prevent or eliminate any discrimination on grounds of racism or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.