Workers with same-sex partners fear talking about family at work
- As employers try to support work-life balance for employees, lesbian, gay and bisexual workers said in a new survey that they hesitate to take and sometimes refrain from taking advantage of family-related benefits for fear of exposing their same-sex relationship, researchers said in Harvard Business Review.
- Respondents also said they were conflicted about bringing their partners and spouses to employer-sponsored events and talking with their supervisors about family-related issues affecting their work lives. The 53 survey participants, representing industries and job types from across the U.S., said they felt stigmatized when invitations to work-related events are addressed to "spouses" instead of "partners," or when benefits packages don't include benefits for same-sex partners.
- Employers can achieve and maintain an environment of inclusion for all workers, the report said, by: 1) removing language that assumes a certain family structure; 2) inviting "significant others" to employer-sponsored family events; 3) educating workers about non-traditional family structures; 4) reviewing family benefits to uncover blind spots to inclusion; and 5) interviewing employees of every orientation about potential work-life balance improvements.
Employers are recognizing that employees with non-traditional families face different and sometimes challenging issues at work. Taking steps to address those issues is critical for those aiming to support work-life balance and create a workplace of inclusion for all employees. Diversity alone isn't enough; for true inclusion, cultures must not only tolerate, but also accept, workers' differences.
A recent Robert Half poll showed that 75% of workers said they're achieving "good" to "excellent" work-life balance. Importantly, those employees are reportedly twice as happy, more productive and show greater loyalty as a result of having balance in their work and personal lives. Employers can help gay, lesbian and bisexual workers and their families by removing the stress and tension they face in seeking balance between work and family commitments and ensuring that family benefits meet their needs.