Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Professionals have a lot of considerations in today's ever changing workforce. Decisions vary depending on whether you are out in your personal life and/or professional life. They can also vary depending on the industry within which you work. The following 3 Reflection Questions can serve as a stepping off point for GLBT professionals facing these sometimes daunting challenges.
#1 - Do I Come Out on My Resume?
There are great resources out there detailing many approaches to this BIG question. However, consider the following:
Are you out in your personal life? Depending on your personal coming out journey, you may want to gauge if coming out professionally is the logical next step. The point here is - you need a support system in place so you have a place to ask for help as you need it. Our heteronormative society (society where being straight is consider the norm to which all is compared), doesn't necessarily consider the oppressions GLBT people face each day. You need friends, family, and mentors in your life to support these tough experiences.
Is your industry considered conservative or progressive? If you work in a more conservative industry where being a member of the GLBT community is not seen as favorable, then serious ramifications could be attached to coming out. GLBT professionals need to be aware of Federal and State laws concerning employment for their particular locale. For those in more progressive industries, coming out on a resume may be a bit easier with somewhat lessened consequences. Everyone's experience will be different.
Are you searching for a position or are you gainfully employed? Each of these circumstances carries its own challenges. If you are searching, then you have to ask some philosophical questions of yourself. The job search can be hard enough, do you want to add the weight of the coming out process to it? Do you have very clear separations of your personal and professional lives? If you already are employed and happy, then the question goes back to support systems and educating yourself about your industry and company.
#2 - What research do I need to do in order to understand the GLBT career landscape?
Whether you are searching for a job or gainfully employed, the need to educate yourself is of utmost importance. There are a few things to remember here:
What's the law? There currently is no Federal law surrounding GLBT workplace discrimination protections. However, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA (including GLBT people) was first introduced to Congress in 1994 and has been reintroduced several times up to most recently in June 2012 (Source: HRC). At the State level, currently only 16 states and D.C. have laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on GLBT status (Source: HRC). Carefully consider these legal issues as part of your personal GLBT professional journey. Some other questions to consider in the realm of legality are:
a) Does the company I'm interested in or working for include GLBT as a consideration in it's Non-Discrimination Policy?
b) Does the company offer Domestic Partnership benefits?
c) Is there an opportunity to network with other GLBT professionals within the company via a social or HR policy group?
#3 - What do you value most in your professional life and your personal life?
Maybe you are out in your personal life and feel more comfortable not sharing that side of yourself in the workplace. You are not alone - there are many GLBT professionals who feel this way. Or you may feel compelled to come out in your professional life as well as your personal life. Either way, it is important to honor what you value most. Consult with your support network and be sure to include your closest mentors in the contemplation of potential next steps. Be sure to follow your gut and present your most honest personal truth.