June 11, 2021
Recruiting LGBTQ+ Students Authentically: 3 Takeaways
We recently surveyed over 500 LGBTQ+ students and gathered insights on students’ employer preferences. These are our three most important takeaways for employers to recruit LGBTQ+ students.
(1) LGBTQ+ students want to bring their authentic selves to the workplace.
A large majority (86%) of LGBTQ+ students say it is important to feel comfortable being “out” at work.
However, being “out” is not easy for many LGBTQ+ students; 70% are concerned that they could face discrimination if they disclose their identity.
In particular, students worry that their identity could negatively impact how professional they appear to employers, or even their career advancement opportunities.
“Say if I’m at work, I’m able to say ‘Oh, I went on a date with my girlfriend’ or something that indicates I’m within the LGBTQ+ community,” one student said in an in-depth interview. “I want to be able to do that and be comfortable doing that.”
This doesn’t mean that students’ concerns start in the workplace, though. Even as they are applying for jobs, many students are apprehensive about being open with their identities. In fact, 7 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students have omitted or modified LGBTQ+ related experiences from their resume.
“I’ve been told, ‘Hey, just for the time being, don’t include that,’” another student said. “One of my HR friends mentioned ‘Hey, that’s not something you may want on there because some people might be prejudiced.’”
(2) Employers should affirm LGBTQ+ students’ identities — but authenticity is key.
Given these findings, it’s not surprising that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBTQ+ students say they value employers who are affirming of the LGBTQ+ community.
“For me, it’s having a wide range of representation and making sure that their company is known as a queer-affirming space,” a student remarked. “So, making sure that their employees feel comfortable, welcome.”
One way employers can affirm the LGBTQ+ community is during Pride Month in June. 70% of LGBTQ+ students say that an employer sponsoring, hosting, or attending an event or activity for Pride improves that employer’s appeal.
But, there is one caveat; students notice when employers’ support for the LGBTQ+ community falls short.
“If you can back that [Pride branding] up, go for it,” one student said. “You can think of a lot of companies that make money off of [Pride] but do nothing to actually promote legislation that protects queer people.”
(3) Employers should use inclusive language to foster a comfortable workplace for LGBTQ+ students.
Luckily, there are clear steps employers can take to make the workplace more inclusive for LGBTQ+ students.
For example, over 70% of LGBTQ+ students say that an employer’s appeal would increase if pronouns were included on platforms such as Zoom and LinkedIn and if employers asked their pronouns during 1:1 interactions.
To put this into practice, employers should use inclusive language and either provide more than two options when asking about gender or allow write-in options. In addition, they should provide team members with training about pronouns and why they are important.
“I appreciate when people have their pronouns,” a student said. “At some point, they’ve had the conversation [about pronouns] where it was like, ‘Oh good, you’re supposed to do that,’ because it normalizes it and like takes the burden off.”
It is of critical importance for LGBTQ+ students to feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. To recruit LGBTQ+ students, employers should take note of top concerns for LGBTQ+ students entering the workforce and apply them to fostering an environment of inclusion.