LGBTI people in the UK earn less than their heterosexual counterparts, a damming study released today showed (2 July).
The LGBTI pay gap is stubborn and large. Out workers statically earn 16% less than their straight co-workers, the study from LinkedIn and YouGov stated.
Moreover, discrimination against queer employees is still rife. Around 38% of straight-identifying Brits think that LGB+ people should only be open about their sexuality if it is ‘appropriate’ for the working environment.
What does the study say?
LinkedIn and YouGov compared the annual pay stubs of 4,000 LGBTI and non-LGBTI workers in Britain. The pair found there is a clear disparity between the two.
Or £6,703 [US$8,471.08], to be exact. While some studies in the past have suggested the reverse – that LGBTIs earn more – the LinkedIn study comes padded with shocking findings.
For example, 38% of straight-identifying Brits think that LGB+ people should only be open about their sexuality if it is ‘appropriate’ for the working environment.
This fed into another finding; one in four LGBTI workers are not out at work. Of those surveyed, a quarter cited feat of judgement from colleagues as a key reason.
Moreover, 35% of LGBTI respondents heard or experienced homophobic comments. While 21% experienced some form of verbal abuse themselves.
This is in stark contrast to the 8% of straight respondents who said they have witnessed an LGB+ colleague discriminated against or treated differently.
The YouGov researchers conducted the study of 2,154 heterosexual, 1,863 LGB+ (of that, 99 identified as trans) workers in June.
What about trans people?
Furthermore, the study also focused on trans people in the workplace, and the gap is substantial.
Not only do trans workers earn 14% less than their cisgendered peers, or £5,340 [US$6,753.52], but almost half said colleagues have said judgemental comments about them.
To tackle this, the trans folk surveyed suggested companies do more to accommodate diversity and inclusion. With 68% wanting a more supportive workplace.
Why do heterosexuals out-earn LGBTIs?
It’s no easy answer. Overall, LGBTIs people are over-represented in psychology, law, and social work according to another study by the London School of Economics.
Why? Some sociologists have pointed towards task independence. Being a massage therapist or psychologist means you don’t have depend on co-workers. As a result, making it easier to conceal one’s sexual orientation.
In fact, in female-majority occupations, lesbians are more likely to be psychologists and gay men flight attendants.
While in male-majority occupations, queer women are more likely to be bus and truck mechanics and gay men actors.
It seems that queer people are drawn to professions where having the option at least to conceal one’s identity is key.
‘LGBT+ workers might value something else’
Behind the LSE study was Michel Anteby. An associate professor of organizational behavior at Boston University.
‘A first glance, LGBT+ workers’ lower pay (compared to their straight counterparts) seems to signal a clear discrimination,’ he told Gay Star News.
‘This assumes, however, that LGBT+ workers cannot get into the higher paying jobs.
‘A more nuanced read, however, if these same data could be that LGBT+ workers are willing to “trade” something for lower pay.
‘Put otherwise, and assuming they opt for these jobs, LGBT+ workers might value something else more than higher pay.’
Anteby linked back to his study mentioned above, in that, LGBTI workers may prioritize job security and safety above pay cheques.
What about intersex people?
Intersex folk are no strangers to discrimination in the workplace. A 24-year-old mentoring admin, Charlie* was open about his identity.
But he told Gay Star News that the surgery he received while working in retail made it difficult to be out at work.
However, since leaving that field and joining a workplace that is signed-up to the Stonewall Equality Pledge, he feels ‘truly comfortable’ to bring his ‘true self’ to work.
How about outside of the UK?
Things are relatively similar across the board.
Across the pond in the US, for example, American LGBTIs are more likely to go into their overdraft and earn less.
And in Australia, LGBTI people are being left behind gay men in the gender pay gap. Queer women earn a quarter less than queer men.
While progress is becoming in the UK, both legally and culturally, discrimination is still woven into society. Economics are no exception.*Identity anonymized.