5 Top Ways for LGBTQ Individuals to Avoid Hiring Bias
Updated: Feb 17
Sadly, despite progress towards inclusivity, LGBTQ individuals can still often be the victims of hiring bias. One study found that LGBT applicants who were more qualified for a job than non-LGBT applicants were 23 percent less likely to be called back for interviews than the non-LGBT applicants.
If you are a member of the LGBTQ community here are a few top ways you can try to avoid LGBTQ discrimination in the hiring process:
Look for employers who send the right message
When looking for a job, scrutinize how each company communicates. Do their hiring videos, websites, brochures and flyers showcase diversity?
In Workopolis.com, Stan Kimer, president of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, says, “A lot of companies produce diversity in hiring videos,” mentioning one from IBM that skillfully incorporates the "T" into a dialogue about LGBT inclusivity.
By paying attention to how many individuals of diverse backgrounds are featured in a company’s recruitment materials, you may be able to spare yourself an interview with a discriminatory employer and facing hiring bias. Companies changing their logos' color to the PRIDE colors during the LGBTQ festivals could also be a sign of inclusiveness.
Find job opportunities through networking
For LGBTQ individuals, being interviewed by someone who doesn’t understand your identity can be an awkward and humiliating experience. In a NBC News article, one nonbinary individual said their worst interview experience took place when the interviewer had no idea they were nonbinary: “I walked in and the person set to interview me, in front of several other people who would be present for the interview, looked at me in my suit, looked at my resume with my birth name, and asked, ‘Are you sure?’”
To avoid the embarrassment of being judged by strangers, why not use your network of friends and connections for help finding a job? People who already know you can smooth the way for your introduction to the company, by informing the prospective employer about your identity.
Keep your sexual orientation private—for just a while
You are not required to disclose your sexual orientation to your employer; so if you feel it may lead to hiring bias during an interview, why not avoid mentioning it during the traditional hiring process?
Not disclosing information about your sexual orientation may feel liberating during the job interview. Omitting this information can have implications later on, however.
Workplacefairness.org notes, “If you are undergoing discrimination or harassment at work, you may wish to disclose your sexual orientation when speaking with your company's human resources department and/or a member of management to see whether your employer can work with you… Otherwise, your company may claim it was unaware of your sexual orientation.”
Try a new hiring platform
A new direct-to-hire job platform called Geekbidz invites job seekers to participate in an online skills ranking system, then pairs employers with the job seeker who best fits the job they’re seeking to fill. That candidate then can be invited to an on-the-job evaluation.
By sidestepping the resume and interview process, and going straight to an on-the-job evaluation, Geekbidz prevents employers from being swayed by your gender identity or sexual orientation, allowing them instead to focus on your skills and qualifications for the job.
Move to a new city
As drastic as it sounds, sometimes one of the best solutions to discrimination in the workplace is to move to a new city entirely, or at least find a job in a different part of your state.
Some cities simply offer less LGBTQ discrimination. American Progress reports that one queer woman from North Carolina commutes from her Durham home to another city where she is employed: “She makes the drive every day so that she can live in a city that’s friendly to LGBT people. She loves her job, but she’s not out to her boss. “I wonder whether I would be let go if the higher-ups knew about my sexuality,” she says.”
Explore all your options to avoid hiring bias
Progress has been made in making workplaces inclusive and bias-free; however, there is some distance to go before LGBTQ individuals can feel safe from LGBTQ discrimination.
In the meantime, why not do all your research on a company’s tolerance for diversity, make connections through networking, consider keeping your sexual orientation private, try a new hiring platform, or even move to a new city.