Out at Work: From Prejudice to Pride


LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and other terms that people identify with) inclusion is a relatively new component of diversity and inclusion. DCA’s study, undertaken with RMIT University, involving conversations we had with over 1600 LGBTIQ+ workers about their experiences, revealed how important it is for Australian organisations to continue to build on that work.

This report presents evidence about what it means to be out at work, and what organisations can do to make everyone feel included. Sponsored by Deloitte and QBE and supported by Star Observer, this work is a valuable contribution to the evidence on how important genuine inclusion is for LGBTIQ+ people to stay safe, feel welcome and to contribute their best at work.

Why does being out at work matter?

Concealing compromises wellbeing

LGBTIQ+ employees who are not out to everyone at work are:

  • Twice as likely to feel down as employees who are out to everyone at work.
  • 45% less likely to be satisfied with their job.

Being Out at Work Drives Performance

LGBTIQ+ employees who are out to everyone at work are:

  • 50% more likely to innovate than workers who are not out to everyone.
  • 35% more likely to work highly effectively in their team.
  • 28% more likely to provide excellent customer/client service.

Graph showing 50% more innovation, 35% more effectiveness and 28% better customer service

LGBTIQ+ Inclusive Cultures Drive Team Performance

Employees in organisations which are highly LGBTIQ+- inclusive are at least twice as likely as employees in non-inclusive cultures to achieve, innovate, and provide excellent customer/service.

Employees in LGBTIQ+ inclusive teams are approximately twice as likely as employees in non-LGBTIQ+ inclusive teams to work effectively together to meet work expectations, to innovate to solve problems, and to provide excellent customer service.

Who’s Out at Work?

While 74% of LGBTIQ+ respondents in our survey told us that it was important to them to be able to be out at work, only 32% were out to everyone with whom they work.

Out of LGBTIQ+ employees surveyed, 5% of them were out to no one, 25% were out to some, 38% were out to most and 32% were out to all other people at their workplace.

  • 14% of workers with more than one LGBTIQ+ attribute (e.g. they may be transgender and gay) were out to everyone at work.
  • 28% of workers who are trans or gender diverse were out to no one at work “ compared to only 4% of LGB workers.
  • 16% of bisexual workers were out to everyone at work.
  • 49% of LGB workers openly talk about their identity with colleagues vs 9% with clients/customers.

What enables being out at work?

Its More Than Just Policies: Culture is What Counts

More than anything else – it was having an LGBTIQ+ inclusive culture that made LGBTIQ+ people feel safe to be themselves at work. LGBTIQ+ people in highly inclusive cultures were three times as likely as workers in non-inclusive cultures to be out to everyone at work.

Genuine Bold Leadership is Critical for Culture

LGBTIQ+ people in organisations with strong LGBTIQ+ leadership were one and half times as likely as workers with none, to be out to everyone at work.

Graph indicating that employees were far more likely to be out to everyone at work if they were part of a highly LGBTIQ+ inclusive culture, had visible LGBTIQ+ leaders, the leaders are publicly supportive or there are LGBTIQ+ inclusive policies.
Download the DCA Out at Work Infographic (PDF – 430 KB)

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The suggested citation for this report is:

Diversity Council Australia (Brown, C., OLeary, J., Trau, R., Legg, A.) Out At Work: From Prejudice to Pride, Sydney, Diversity Council Australia, 2018.

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