The experience of being LGBT in the public sector holds many of the same challenges for those in the business and non-profit communities: not feeling safe in sharing one’s whole self in the recruitment process, having to come out to colleagues, and facing anxiety that a boss will overlook performance and qualifications in promotion and advancement opportunities—just because a person identifies as LGBT. Yet despite the commonalities shared by for-profit and public sector employees, there are unique challenges LGBT employees and allies must overcome to usher in diversity and inclusion policy within government workplaces.
The Center for American Progress recently released a new report on the status of LGBT public sector workers in local, municipal or state-level governments, Gay and Transgender Discrimination in the Public Sector: Why It’s a Problem for State and Local Governments, Employees, and Taxpayers, providing fresh statistics on public sector workers:
“Only 43 percent of state employees work in a state with a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Only 31 percent work in a state with a law also prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. This means that the majority of Americans working for state governments still do not have statutory protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When it comes to benefits, a majority of state employees do not work for a state that offers equal partner health insurance. Only 47 percent of state employees with same-sex partners have access to equal workplace benefits, compared to 53 percent who do not.”
While much of the report argues the business case and equality principles underlying advocacy for the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as a means to eradicate discrimination for local-level public employees, the same arguments broadly apply to federal employees, as well.
In recognition of the unique challenges, Out & Equal will host a day-long Leadership Seminar for Federal Employees on October 29 at the Baltimore Convention Center, as part of the 2012 Workplace Summit.
High-level goals for this day-long seminar include:
• Bringing together agencies to share best practices
• Providing a forum for planning the next steps
• Creating an opportunity to network with government contractors
• Sharing global perspectives for applicability
The Federal Employee Leadership Seminar will be held 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday, October 29, at the Baltimore Convention Center.