LGBTIQ+ Workplace Inclusion Conference 2021 – Full Program


LGBTIQ+ Workplace Inclusion Conference 2021

Thursday May 20th and Friday May 21st

This conference is a product of the collaboration between Workplace Pride and the LGBT Workplace Inclusion Chair at Leiden University, Prof.dr. Jojanneke van der Toorn, and is sponsored by KPN and Elsevier.

Organizing team

Prof.dr. Jojanneke van der Toorn, Professor of LGBT Workplace Inclusion, Leiden University

Waruguru Gaitho, LLM, Project Assistant, Leiden University

David Pollard, Executive Director, Workplace Pride Foundation

Program Committee

Prof.dr. Jojanneke van der Toorn, Leiden University

Dr. Looi van Kessel, Leiden University

Miriam Wickham, MSc, Utrecht University

Waruguru Gaitho, LLM, Leiden University

Conference Program at a Glance

Thursday May 20 2021 (14.00-18.00)


Thursday May 20th


Keynote speech 1

Dr. M. V. Lee Badgett
University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA

The Economic Case for LGBTIQ+ Inclusion in the Workplace

Large global employers have long made a business case for inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people in the workplace: inclusion is essential to the recruitment, retention, and productivity of LGBTIQ+ workers. Academic research on this subject is finally catching up to confirm many of the claims made by employers, although research gaps remain. And now there’s also a newer, broader economic case to be made that links inclusion in the workplace to the health and education of LGBTIQ+ people.  Employers – and all participants in the economy – will benefit from a more inclusive society that enhances the skills, knowledge, creativity, mental health, and physical health of LGBTIQ+ people. This argument opens up new spaces for engagement on LGBTIQ+ human rights issues and points to new research questions and data needs.

M. V. Lee Badgett is a professor of economics and co-director of the Center for Employment Equity at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and she is the former director of the School of Public Policy. She is also a Williams Distinguished Scholar at UCLA’s Williams Institute, where she was a co-founder and the first research director. She has a Ph.D. in economics from the UC Berkeley and a BA from the University of Chicago.  

Thursday May 20th


Panel Session 1

LGBTQI+ Data collection: Tension between Privacy and Inclusion?

Moderator: Michiel Kolman. 

Panelists: Alex Müller, Terence Guiamo, Robert Enso, & Marijn Pijnenburg.

A critical question that faces researchers in the field of LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion is how to ethically collect sensitive data about the sexual orientation, gender identity and/or sex characteristics of individuals in the workplace. A clear tension exists between the push for inclusion by being able to map diversity and identify potential group-based inequalities, and the need for privacy for individuals for whom there may be safety concerns or a general discomfort around divulging this information. This panel focuses on this field of tension and aims to explore the ways in which this complex dynamic can be navigated.

Moderator: Michiel Kolman, PhD
Dr. Michiel Kolman (pronouns: he/him) is Senior VP and Academic Ambassador at Elsevier and former President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) where he now chairs Inclusive Publishing and Literacy. Michiel serves on the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) board and is vice-chair of WIPO’s Accessible Books Consortium board. He is a strong supporter of inclusive publishing and also of sustainability in the world of publishing and research. Michiel is co-chair of Workplace Pride supporting LGBTI workplace inclusion internationally; he is also leading the Academia@WorkplacePride program. Michiel is the executive sponsor of Elsevier Pride and was listed two years in a row in the Financial Times’ Top100 ranking of most influential LGBT senior executives.

Alex Müller, Adjunct Associate Professor University of Capetown
Dr. Alex Müller (pronouns: she/her) is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Gender Health and Justice Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, and currently a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Her work focuses on health disparities and barriers to healthcare access due to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in Southern Africa, for which she conducts participatory research that supports activist and advocacy efforts. Her recent work included a multi-country comparative study on mental health outcomes among sexual and gender minority people in Southern and East Africa, as well as a participatory creative project to create accessible and context-relevant media with queer African youth.

Terence Guiamo, Just Eat Takeaway
Terence Guiamo (pronouns: he/him)  is Global Director Inclusion, Diversity & Belonging at Just Eat, a leading online food delivery marketplace, connecting consumers and restaurants through its platform in 24 countries. He is also co-founder of Agora Network, which aims to promote cultural diversity in organizations. Creating dialogues between people and supporting them to see different perspectives is at the core of his purpose: “Inclusion is a prerequisite for organisational growth and success, and I strongly believe that we can only create this inclusive culture by being connected to each other and are able to step more into each other’s world. ” In his bi-monthly column for MT / Sprout, he writes about the steps towards more diverse and inclusive organizations.

Marijn Pijnenburg, IBM
Marijn Pijnenburg (pronouns: he/him)   heads EMEA for IBM’s Global Diversity Business Development team. In this role, he provides strategic advisement to business leaders on how to leverage human capital, talent development, diversity, inclusion, engagement, and LGBT+, as critical business drivers, to foster innovation and transform organisational cultures. Marijn also manages IBM’s corporate community partnerships with LGBT+ and diversity organisations. He is the initiator of several Diversity and LGBT+ Business Forums, is a member of the AmCham Diversity Committee, the Workplace Pride Global Leaders Council, and the Strategic Growth Team of Open For Business. Marijn was acknowledged as Global Leader by the Financial Times for his diversity efforts.

Robert Ensor, Transgender Network Netherlands
Robert Ensor (pronouns: he/him) is the secretary of Transgender Network Netherlands, a foundation committed to the realization of a gender-diverse society, the emancipation of transgender people and their environment, and the fight against discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression, and gender characteristics.

Thursday May 20th


Parallel Research Sessions 1

Session A

Presenter: Jelsyna Chacko
Title: Status of employment for the gender non-conforming vis-a-vis the Transgender Protection Act, 2019

According to the last census in India, a staggering 96% of transgender people are denied jobs and around 60% have never attended schools. The Indian society has spent eons marginalizing individuals who don’t fall within the set social constructs. This has rendered the non-conformists invisible in the society, making employment, among other fundamental rights, a farfetched dream. However the pronouncement of the NALSA verdict, which allowed recognition of the identity of transgender people, breathed new life into the movement for the realization of equality and inclusion of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. This led to the enactment of the Transgender Protection Act, 2019,  which sought to bring trans and gender diverse individuals within the scope of the law. However, due to the inherently regressive provisions contained within it, the legislation received severe backlash. This study is aimed at highlighting the dire repercussions of this legislation on the community and the lack of explicit provisions for D&I at workplaces. There are also no provisions in place to ensure their safety and therefore no environment conducive to fair representation at workplaces. Additionally, this study seeks to devise a viable solution that can help create a level playing field that enables a framework that brings out the best in every individual regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics.

Presenter: Thekla Morgenroth
Title: What drives the opposition to trans-inclusive policies: safety concerns or plain old prejudice?

In recent years, there has been a growing visibility of, and support for, transgender individuals. At the same time, there is strong and vocal opposition to these changes and organizations increasingly find themselves in a place in which they have to position themselves in regards to these changes one way or another. One common argument in these debates is that giving transgender women access to female-only spaces poses a risk to women’s safety because such policies enable predatory cisgender men to gain access to vulnerable women, for example by posing as transgender women. We investigate whether opposition to trans-inclusive policies is indeed driven by concerns about male violence or whether it is instead rooted in prejudice against trans people. Across two correlational survey studies with US participants (total N=660) we find that compared to supporters of trans-inclusive policies, opponents list concerns about male violence as a more important reason for their opinion of these policies, while supporters give more weight to their attitudes towards transgender people. For supporters, this is in line with patterns in the data, but for opponents, it is not, suggesting that opponents of trans-inclusive policies are either unwilling or unable to report what truly drives their opposition.

Presenter: Helen P. Vergoossen
Title: Inclusive language use in organizations: Understanding resistance

Inclusive language is important in signaling and practicing inclusivity in organizations. By linguistically including all social groups and identities, stereotypes can be countered. Gender-fair language can encourage people to apply for jobs and promote experienced belonging. Despite this, gender-fair language tends to meet resistance, also in organizations. In my talk, I discuss dimensions of resistance to a recent gender-fair language reform in the Swedish language. Hen was introduced as a gender-neutral pronoun to the Swedish language in 2012, and was initially met with a lot of resistance. In a qualitative study, I categorized the different arguments used against hen and other forms of gender-fair language. In my talk, I will discuss the findings and their implications for organizations. I will also discuss the roles of underlying motivations and attitudes on encountering new gender-fair language.

Session B

Presenter: Marco Salvati
Title: Embrace the leadership challenge to counteract the ‘gay glass ceiling effect’

This research is grounded in the framework of the ‘gay glass ceiling effect’, which indicates the situation in which gay and lesbian individuals face several obstacles to access the highest management and leadership positions and therefore they are less likely to take on such roles, compared to their heterosexual counterparts. We ran three online studies (NTOT= 402), asking gay male participants to evaluate the perceived effectiveness of other gay men’s leadership and their self-perceived leadership effectiveness and their intention to apply to a leadership position. We measured their internalized sexual stigma (ISS) and manipulated either the leader’s sexual orientation (SO) (study 1), or his adherence to traditional gender roles (TGR) (study 2), or participants’ fictitious masculinity score (study 3). Participants had all White/Caucasian Ethnicity and most of them had US (38%) or British (43%) nationality, whereas the others were from other ‘Western’ countries (19%). The main findings are as follows: participants reported a more positive attitude towards a gay man (vs. heterosexual) as leader only when they had low – and not high – ISS; participants with high (vs. low) ISS perceived the masculine gay leader as more effective than the feminine gay leader; under masculinity threat, participants with high (vs. low) ISS showed less intention to apply to a leadership position. These studies suggests that ISS and TRG can strengthen and perpetuate the gay glass ceiling effect.

Presenter: Alparslan Özaltug
Title: Are there any rights that can be derived from UN advocacy on discrimination against LGBTIQ people?

Thus far, there have been considerable developments on the protection and recognition of the equal rights of LGBTIQ+ persons. However, LGBTIQ+ people still face discrimination, and are targeted on the basis of their sexual orientation. While it is evident that the legal protections provided for LGBTIQ+ people around the world remain insufficient and there are significant violations of the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in some parts of the world, public awareness globally continues to rise gradually. Thanks to the public advocacy work of various actors such as civil society organizations (CSOs), these rights and entitlements have become more and more apparent in daily life. Safeguarding the legal protection of LGBTIQ+ people across every aspect of life is also observed somewhat in the business sector. The United Nations (UN) took a critical step in 2011 by publishing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Guiding Principles). This attempt was followed subsequently by Standards of Conduct for Business on Tackling Discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people (Business Standards). Even if the Business Standards are yet to be considered as hard law, it is the first document aiming to protect LGBTIQ+ people in business life from discrimination and to provide concrete steps to sustain their inclusion in the business world. Additionally, the Business Standards have become a living instrument and, to some extent, binding for the business actors after sector leading companies gave commitments under the Business Standards. The commitments given by the sector leading companies are also of special importance, since they have worldwide investments. This helps to spread the implementation of the Business Standards across the World. Respecting and supporting employees’ sexual orientation and gender characteristics not only increases the financial profit of companies, but also improves their reputation, correlatively. The business sector has become more open to LGBTIQ+ inclusivity compared to the past. With this awareness, various business actors have shown their endorsement of LGBTIQ+ visibility, acceptance and inclusion by means of sponsoring global LGBTIQ+ events, as well as drafting and implementing policies. As it is set forth under the Business Standards, enterprises ought to draft policies to effect the Business Standards in employment processes such as recruitment as well as work place regulations. This study aims to present the duties and obligations of enterprises in business life along with the relevant international law instruments, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the Recommendations of ILO, and the UN Principles. To conclude, possible alternative legal solutions and recommendations will be proposed in order to achieve an effective legally binding instrument.

Presenter: Maria Laura Bettinsoli
Title: The “gay agenda:” How the myth of gay affluence impedes progress toward equality

Despite the fact that gay men and lesbian women face significant economic disparities compared to their heterosexual counterparts, people appear to believe that the opposite is true, a phenomenon which has been dubbed the “myth of gay affluence.” In the current research (Ntot=2162), we address the consequences of this belief. Specifically, we hypothesize and find that believing that gay men and lesbian women are financially well off—either chronically (Study 1, US & UK respondents) or because of an experimental manipulation (Studies 2-3, US respondents)—leads participants to deny discrimination against gay men and lesbian women, above and beyond anti-gay attitudes, and this is mediated by the belief that there is a “gay agenda” that is backed by powerful lobbyists. We propose that the perception of gay affluence can increase the denial of discrimination against sexual minorities, and thus affect support for gay egalitarian rights, which could lead to negative consequences in terms of workplace rights. It might be the case, for instance, that employers endorsing the gay affluence belief, might be less interested in assessing a sexual orientation wage gap in the organization. Thus, our data suggests that this myth— perpetuated either intentionally or inadvertently—could have deleterious effects on efforts for social change and may serve as obstacles in the progress toward equality at both societal and occupational level.

Session C

Presenters: Peter Dunne & Marjolein van den Brink
Title: Protecting gender identity and gender expression in the labour market: a comparative european analysis

This presentation explores legal frameworks for the protection of trans populations in 33 European jurisdictions. Drawing upon EU-funded research, undertaken in collaboration with national experts from across the EU and EEA during 2017-2018, the presentation asks whether, in the era of the ‘Transgender Tipping Point’, existing employment non-discrimination structures in Europe adequately respect gender identity and gender expression. The presentation addresses a broad range of questions, including (a) the right to legal recognition of gender within the workplace; (b) access to employment and social security benefits consistent with self-identity; (c) non-discrimination policies, particularly in relation to workplace transitions; (d) pregnancy protections for transmasculine and non-binary persons; (e) the regulation of single-sex facilities in offices; and (f) the position of trans youth in education and occupational training spheres, particularly access to qualifications with correct gender markers. The presentation evaluates existing European rules against emerging standards of international best practice. It identifies numerous inequalities to which trans workers are still subject, offering an honest assessment of current national legal protections. Yet, the presentation is also optimistic for future reform and, drawing upon the research findings, provides practical recommendations to subtly, yet significantly, enhance trans experiences in the labour market across Europe.

Presenter: Amanda Klysing
Title: Expressions of the gender binary in recruitment situations: gender normativity in equal employment opportunity statements and applicant gender expression

The current research studied the effect of different gender expressions (non-normative or normative) in two phases of recruitment: applicant attraction and applicant evaluation. Experiment 1 (N = 404) investigated how Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statements in an organisation’s description that emphasized gender as binary (women and men), gender as diverse (multi-gender), or gender as irrelevant (de-gender), influenced organisational evaluations. There was no significant effect of EEO gender-as-binary statements on evaluations of the organisation. Multi-gendered and de-gendered EEO statements increased perceptions of the organisation as having a gender diverse staff body. This indicates that gender minorities can be explicitly included in EEO statements without having a negative impact on gender majority groups. Experiment 2 (N = 214) investigated how job applicants with a normative or non-normative gender expression were evaluated by HR-specialists. Applicants with a non-normative gender expression were rated as more suitable for the position and recommended a higher starting salary. Women were in general rated as the most likely to be hired, and women with a non-normative gender expression, were rated as more likely to be employed than men. Having a non-normative gender expression was thus not found to be a cause for biased evaluations in this simulated initial recruitment situation.

Presenter: Teri Kirby
Title: Identity-conscious diversity messages facilitate sexual identity disclosure among sexual minorities

Sexual minorities continue to face workplace discrimination, which leads to concerns about whether they should conceal or disclose their sexual identities. Despite benefits of disclosing, relatively little research has examined what organizational factors help sexual minorities feel safe doing so. In Study 1, we examined the impact of diversity messages that celebrate (identity-conscious) versus downplay difference (identity-blind). Sexual minorities felt greater inclusion and more comfort disclosing in a company with an identity-conscious relative to an identity-blind message. In Study 2, we examined whether these benefits persisted even in the face of a negative diversity climate, as a mismatch between the organizational message and the reality of the diversity climate might create mistrust and impede disclosure. We also examined whether the benefits of an identity-conscious message applied to both interpersonal disclosure (to colleagues) and to public disclosure (LGBTQ advocacy for the organization). On interpersonal disclosure, the benefits of an identity-conscious message persisted even when learning about a negative diversity climate. However, participants were not more willing to engage in public disclosure when there was a mismatch between the diversity message and the diversity climate. These findings point to the complexities of facilitating visible sexual minority representation in workplace environments.

Conference Day 2: 21st May, 2021

Friday May 21st


Keynote speech

Yvonne Muthoni Nyawira
Open for Business, Kenya

LGBTIQ+ inclusion; Strategies for Africa by Africa

According to a 2020 study by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) approximately half of the countries globally, where homosexuality is outlawed are in Africa. In South Africa, for example, the laws have continually progressed since becoming the first country in Africa to legalise same-sex marriage in 2006. Other countries that have amended their laws recently include Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Seychelles, Angola and Sudan which recently lifted the death penalty and flogging from their laws. While these are great steps towards inclusion, legalisation of homosexuality has not always gone hand in hand with a change in societal attitudes. We cannot assume that legalisation in Africa will protect the LGBTIQ+ community from harassment from the state and society. Neither can we assume that legalisation provides the LGBTIQ+ community access to economic empowerment or societal inclusion. It is therefore imperative that allies of the LGBTIQ+ community and civil society organizations work hand in hand to reduce oppression, stigma, violence and discrimination. Among these allies are members of the private sector, who can leverage their economic power to advance LGBTIQ+ inclusion in Africa. 

At the same time, Africa has the fastest growing population, and we represent the youngest population to boot. This means there are innumerable benefits to be gained and the richness that the diversity in the continent brings is unmatched. There are so many ways in which the future belongs to Africa. And harnessing strategies to improve our worlds future lies in African research. So why the gap in African LGBTIQ+ research? What can be done to rectify these issues? How do we ensure that research actually makes sense to the continent? How do we develop solutions for Queer Africa by Queer Africa? This talk is thus aimed at exploring both the role of the private sector in advancing LGBTIQ+ inclusion in Africa, and addressing the lacuna in research on LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion in Africa. We will examine the reasons for adopting such an unusual strategy for Africa, practical steps that can shift societal attitudes and the critical importance of more work being conducted on the continent, by both practitioners and researchers.

Yvonne Muthoni Nyawira – African, Feminist, Queer, is the Kenyan Country Director of Open For business, an organization making the case that inclusive, diverse societies are better for cities, business and for economic growth. Previously, she worked with different national and global stakeholders on diversity and inclusion best practices. Yvonne works towards fortifying the respect for human dignity for the LGBTIQ+ community. Furthermore, she is an advocate for the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTIQ+ community and has co-authored on the Mental Health Assessment Toolkit by Professionals in Pride Kenya where she serves as a board member. Open For Business is a response by a number of leading global businesses to the spread of anti-LGBT sentiment in many parts of the world.

Friday May 21st


Panel Session 2

Intersectionality at Work: Risking Fragmented Inclusion Policy? 

Moderator: Waruguru Gaitho

Panelists: Marjolein Dennissen, Winston van Niel, Victor Handley, & Layla Chabhar

Intersectionality refers to the synergistic interaction between various facets of an individual’s identities that may result in compounded oppression. Coined in the 80s, intersectionality discourse has shifted and expanded to accommodate more nuanced understandings of marginalization and privilege beyond the single axis. With regards to LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion, intersectionality plays an interesting and salient role in understanding both the advantages and shortcomings of policy, practice and a workplace culture that seeks to highlight and address the often-difficult lived realities of sexual and gender minorities in the workplace. This panel thus aims to deconstruct these complexities and challenge all actors to view inclusion through a different, intersectional lens.

Moderator: Waruguru Gaitho

Waruguru Gaitho (pronouns: she/her) is a queer, Black, African, radical feminist. As a human rights lawyer specializing in SOGIESC, gender, race and social justice, she has spent years advocating for the equality and dignity of various marginalized communities, in particular the LGBTQIA+ community in Kenya. She holds an Advanced Masters in International and European Human Rights Law (cum laude), focusing her academic work on the intersection of race, gender and sexual orientation, particularly queer black womxn on the African continent. She currently carries out research in Comparative Sexual Orientation law at the Grotius Centre for International Legal studies in the Hague and gender-focused socio-legal research at the Van-Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden University.

Marjolein Dennisen

Dr. Marjolein Dennissen (pronouns: she/her) is an assistant professor at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. Her main research interests are in the field of critical diversity studies, with a particular focus on intersectionality and diversity networks in organizations. Her dissertation ‘The Herculean task of diversity networks’ focused on the contribution of diversity networks to equality in organizations. In one of her studies, she analyzed different diversity networks (women’s networks, ethnic minority networks, LGBT networks, disability networks and young employee networks) using an intersectionality lens. In her current work she focuses on rethinking diversity management in organizations drawing on critical and intersectional perspectives.

Derek Viktor

Derek Victor (pronouns: he/him) is a queer, disabled educator, writer and activist. He works with academic and corporate organisations on anti-prejudice activities, with a focus on the experiences of students and workers with disabilities, neurodiversities, learning differences and mental health differences. He also offers training on the intersection of disability with protected and marginalised identities, questioning practices on diversity and inclusion through this often-overlooked lens.

Layla Chabhar

Layla Chabhar (pronouns: they/them) is a bi/pansexual queer non-binary activist and organizer, and has served on the core team of Colored Qollective, a self-organized platform for and by LGBTQIA+ persons of color, since June 2019, and chaired its board since January 2020. Colored Qollective aims to create an environment that feels safe for all Queer POC, and strives towards an inclusive society in which there is more tolerance and acceptance towards each other and people feel safer to be themselves. Layla is also currently completing a Master’s degree at Leiden university.

Winston van Niel

Winston van Niel (pronouns: he/him) is the founder of Parea Nederland, a network of Dutch and Netherlands-based LGBTQ+ professionals of colour. For over 13 years, he held various organizational and managerial roles in public procurement and funding at a governmental, international and European level. He’s now an independent consultant and works with start-ups and accelerators to access and manage funds. He also serves on the Board of COC Nederland.

Friday May 21st


Parallel Research Sessions 2

Session A

Presenter: Czeslaw Walek
Title: Advancing LGBT+ workplace equality in a post-communist environment – ten years of good practice

Pride Business Forum has worked on LGBT+ equality in the Czech workplace since 2011. At first, we faced incomprehension from stakeholders. Over the course of ten years we delivered data on the lived realities of Czech LGBT+ people in their workplaces, we delivered information about the benefits of being LGBT+ inclusive for employers, and we showcased examples of good practice (international and domestic) on how to practically implement LGBT+ equality in a workplace. In those ten years we have conducted a number of surveys among LGBT+ employees that show whether the situation of LGBT+ people in the Czech workplace improves. I will use data from 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2021 surveys, on coming out in the Czech workplace. This data proves that LGBT+ people in the Czech workplace are slowly but surely coming out. Data from surveys that  we conducted among Czech companies in 2015 and 2017 on their D&I policies and LGBT+ elements of those policies show that companies are more and more active in pursuing LGBT+ workplace equality. Today we work with the biggest employers in our country, we have more than 30 members, including domestic companies. Companies not only work on their internal environment and communication, but have started to be active in the area of public advocacy as well. Last year 18 companies signed an open letter to the Prime Minister supporting the marriage equality bill (sth that would not be possible ten years ago). Moreover, we share our experience with other post – communist countries, in particular we work with partners in Georgia, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina. I will show that, per the evidence, if employers are actively pursuing LGBT+ workplace equality, LGBT+ employees feel safer in their working environment and are slowly opening up about their different identity. Further we can see that companies’ active support to LGBT+ workplace equality acts as an encouragement to  LGBT+ employees to create their own resource groups that are emerging in those companies. Those in turn, encourage companies to be even more proactive in topics of LGBT+ inclusion, even outside the workplace. In my presentation I will share this journey in the particular context of a post communist country,  supported by data collected over a decade.

Presenter: Alex Müller
Title: Employment discrimination and economic precarity of LGBTQI+ persons in Southern and Eastern Africa

With the exception of Botswana and South Africa, most countries in Eastern and Southern Africa do not offer legal protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) in the workplace. On the contrary, many countries retain colonial-era penal codes that criminalise same-sex sexuality and contribute to high levels of SOGI-related stigma and discrimination. Our presentation presents quantitative data on employment and economic status of persons identifying as LGBTIQ+ in Botswana, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, emanating out of a community-led study with 3,796 participants (Müller et al., 2019). Of those participants, between 37% to 56% were unemployed. Unemployment was highest among trans-identifying participants. Compared to the general population in the nine countries, LGBTIQ+ persons less often held salaried employment, and were more likely to work in the informal sector or be unemployed. In the absence of formal research from the region, we draw on grey literature and implementation data from community organizations to discuss reasons for and consequences of these high levels of economic and employment precarity

Presenter: Juan Aguiar
Title: LGBTQI+ workplace discrimination in Ecuador

I conducted a series of online and in-person interviews in 2018 regarding LGBTQI+ discrimination in Ecuador, including in the workplace. The purpose of the research was to “give voice” to sexual minorities. The main findings were that despite the constitutional prohibition of discrimination, there were several instances where sexual minorities were adversely affected in the workplace in the selection process and workplace environment for gay and lesbian interviewees. A transgender student of psychology reported acceptance and support in his current college and the places where he had worked. One of the interviewees summarized the country’s situation as follows: Ecuador lives a social reality of secrets, there is scarce visibility of sexual minorities in the news and social media, it is as if sexual minorities did not exist. The conclusion is that there is still work to be done by society and the Ecuadorian government, to achieve true equality. The prohibition of discrimination in the Constitution is a step in the right direction, but I highlight the need for education and visibility campaigns.

Presenter: Kees Waaldjik
Title: The global spread of legal prohibitions of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation: scope for more

Over the last 30 years, more than 80 countries have prohibited sexual orientation discrimination in employment. Enacting such prohibitions has thereby become the most common form of legal recognition for homosexual orientation. The trend is quite global (ten countries in Africa, and even more in Asia/Oceania). It is not only reflected in-laws of the EU and OAS but also in the decisions of various UN bodies and of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Over the same period, decriminalization of homosexual sex took place in just over 40 countries, while also in less than 50 countries same-sex couples gained access to marriage or other civil partnership.

On the basis of these numbers, I will argue that in many more countries there must be scope for prohibiting employment discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation – also in countries where decriminalization of homosexual sex and/or recognition of same-sex families seems a distant ideal. Reasons for this include: covering sexual orientation in laws against discrimination is less controversial than the other two issues; it is easier to find allies for it among organized labour and business; it can build on laws against discrimination on other grounds; it speaks to the recognition of people as humans who need to work to live.

Session B

Presenter: Amie Bishop
Title: Economic Impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ Populations Globally

In many countries, LGBTIQ people predominantly work in the informal sector, relying on daily wages and surviving without job protections, making them especially vulnerable to economic down-turns. In May 2020, OutRight Action International published its research findings on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on LGBTIQ lives and movements globally. Based on 59 interviews in 38 countries, we identified seven key thematic areas of impact, one of which was the destruction of livelihoods and increasing food insecurity. Specifically, our findings suggested that those who survive in cash-based, informal economies- where LGBTIQ people are over-represented- have been hardest hit with job loss and lack of safety nets. Further, more than a quarter of respondents expressed specific concerns about the vulnerabilities of trans people and sex workers regarding employment loss during this time. At the same time, OutRight launched a COVID-19 emergency fund, and of the 1500 requests for support, 57% of the nearly 1500 requests for support to OutRight’s COVID-19 emergency fund were for food support, highlighting the economic precarity that so many LGBTIQ people were facing- and continue to endure– due to the pandemic. This presentation will review these findings and provide additional data on COVID-19’s impact on LGBTIQ communities globally.

Presenter: Travis Campbell
Title: Health insurance coverage and health outcomes among transgender adults in the U.S.

The health status of transgender and gender diverse individuals has received growing attention in the literature, with results pointing to higher rates of depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidality, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse compared with heterosexual and cisgender people. Health disparities between transgender and cisgender people are likely rooted in minority stress and the lack of health services and health insurance to adequately meet the needs of gender diverse individuals.  These obstacles impact not only the well-being of transgender individuals but also have repercussions for reduced work productivity, lower labor force participation, greater public health costs, and even reduced macroeconomic growth. This study provides evidence of health and insurance coverage disparities between the cisgender and transgender US populations using the 2014-2018 Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance Systems. The analysis tests whether increasing the incidence of insurance coverage among transgender people could alleviate the health disparity. The empirical approach uses a fuzzy regression discontinuity design that leverages cliffs in government health assistance eligibility by age and the federal poverty level. Results indicate that insurance coverage meaningfully improves the mental health of transgender recipients. In contrast, insurance coverage for the cisgender population comes with an important, but modest, improvement to general health and healthcare access.

Presenter: Cornelius Damar Hanung
Title: Understanding the trajectory of the LGBTIQ inclusion in the workspace in Indonesia’s post-pandemic era

COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the fulfillment of the rights of the LGBTIQ community in Indonesia. Authoritative responses made by the government under the pretext of combating the pandemic have been implemented without having a SOGIESC-conscious perspective. At the moment, many LGBTIQ community members in Indonesia who rely on jobs in the informal and gig sectors are living in limbo without job security and protection. COVID-19 has also created polarization within society, with the spread of misinformation blaming the existence of the pandemic on the presence of the LGBTIQ community among society. Stigma has been heightened against the community, for allegedly spreading both COVID-19 and HIV. Tightened security measures and stigmatization under the pandemic create a further hindrance to the current advocacy work being done to increase protection for LGBTIQ individuals in the workspace. This study is aimed at providing an example of how LGBTIQ related advocacy has been sidelined due to COVID-19, exacerbating the situation of an already vulnerable population due to massive stigmatization, discrimination, and the absence of legal protection. Further, it aims to highlight the government’s lack of responses; and how civil society have restrategized to help the community amidst many limitations.

Session C

Presenter: Sarah Wattelet
Title: The performing art sector as a “safe space” for LGB workers: a study on experienced inequalities in relation to the patriarchal culture in 25 public theatres across 18 European countries

Because they challenge heteronormativity, LGB persons are treated unequally in nearly all social contexts. Exceptionally, the performing arts sector is assumed to be a “safe space” for LGB workers. The aim of this study was to evaluate if actual inequalities exist between LGB vs. heterosexual workers in this sector and whether these are predicted by the strength of the patriarchal system. 247 workers (self-defined LGB = 23%) belonging to 25 public theatres from 18 European countries filled an online questionnaire. It comprised, among others, measures of work precariousness, and experienced discriminations at the interpersonal and organisational level. Moreover, the patriarchal organisational culture (PatOC) and national UN Gender inequality index (GII) were measured. T-tests and multiple regressions analyses were performed in order to evaluate inequalities and their association with PatOC and GII. Save for hearing discriminatory/sexist comments from colleagues, results didn’t show any differences between LGB and heterosexual workers in terms of experienced discrimination. Yet, PatOC and GII were independently associated to all the DVs. Results suggest that the patriarchal system itself promotes the emergence of a discriminatory climate and that addressing it can improve the well-being of all people in the organisation, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Presenter: Marlena Drapalska-Grochowicz
Title: Employee’s close relations and the knowledge and beliefs of the employer: Towards a relational model of labor relations?

One of my work’s essential topics is to analyze why lawmakers choose a particular vision of close relationships and why Polish law is so limited to only some of them; such a decision by legislators has an influence on various other levels of social functioning of relations. One of the crucial contexts is relations between employer and employee. Employers, similar to legislators, can have their vision of an employee’s private life and assess it positively or negatively. Depending on this assessment, they can treat employees preferentially or discriminatively.

This study queries whether an employer should be interested in an employee’s private life at all, and if so, to what extent? If not, why not? Should the employer consider only formal relationships such as marriage or also informal ones such as cohabitation? Can employers make granting certain rights conditional on remaining in a particular type of relationship? I aim to illustrate this using the Ombudsman research results on discrimination against LGBTQ people, which were based on interviews with employees experiencing discrimination in the workplace. On the other hand, I discuss the case of an IKEA store employee who was fired for posting homophobic statements on Facebook, carrying out an inventory of the same in order to indicate acceptable practices used by Polish employers and harmful practices and their consequences. I will also emphasize the relational dimension of the employment relationship and its multi-directional nature in my work. The first is the employee-employer level.

The second is the employer-employee level. In each of these contexts, there is potential to establish relationships and support and get to know each other. Often, the knowledge of an employee’s sexual orientation or transgender identity changes a lot in an employee’s status in the indicated relationships – from supportive to stigmatizing attitudes. I intend to emphasize that employee relations can support individuals in their choices and relationships, to make the workplace more inclusive. Finally, I will present recommendations from the Polish context – it is an interesting case study because of the specific attitude towards Polish law relationships – many workplaces seem to be much more supportive and inclusive than lawmakers.

Presenter: Julian Rengers
Title: The relational dimension in understanding inclusion and selective disclosure of lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities in the workplace

In this talk, I describe the relatively understudied, yet important role of interpersonal (i.e., relational) characteristics in workplace identity management and (selective) disclosure among lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees. Building on mixed-method data collection, combining semi-structured interviews with personal network data, I discuss the characteristics of social relations that may affect LGB employees’ decisions to (selectively) disclose their sexual identity to others at work. Oftentimes, variables like interpersonal trust or characteristics of the other are considered in this context. I try to enrich this research by highlighting other factors that may play a role, such as a high degree of collaboration and the ‘shadow of the future’ (i.e., higher likelihood of future interactions). In doing so, I aim to provide further insight into the dynamic and contextualized nature of sexual identity disclosure. Moreover, I will reflect on the complex ways in which such disclosure dynamics may relate to perceived workplace inclusion among LGB employees, conceptualized as the satisfaction of their needs for belonging and authenticity. Finally, I will consider these findings in light of what it means to be an LGBTQI+ inclusive employer, and how both institutional and interpersonal elements play complementary roles therein.

Presenter: Alexandra Suppes
Title: Regional hostility and the underrepresentation of sexual minorities in STEM in the United States.

Considerable work shows the underrepresentation of women and People of Color in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Scholars have recently revealed a similar underrepresentation among sexual minorities (vs. heterosexuals) in the STEM workforce.

First, we will review work documenting this underrepresentation (Hughes et al., 2018; Sansone, 2020). Second, we will address the root of this underrepresentation. Specifically, if underrepresentation is due to anti-LGBTQ hostility, we would expect to find underrepresentation worse in communities with greater hostility. In two studies, we explore if American sexual minorities are more underrepresented in STEM in areas of the United States where they face greater (vs. less) hostility.

Using USA state-level and region-level variability in explicit and implicit anti-LGBTQ bias, we determine the underrepresentation of sexual minorities among two populations: University students surveyed by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (Study 1, n = 33,070) and working adults surveyed in the American Community Survey (Study 2, n = 142,641). We find that sexual minorities are more underrepresented in STEM when they live in US states with more (vs. less) anti-LGBTQ hostility. These findings have important implications for the roots of the under-representation of sexual minorities in the STEM workforce and help spotlight where interventions are most needed.