How Safe Do LGBTQ+ Individuals Feel in Tech?

How safe do LGBTQ+ individuals who work in tech feel in their workplaces? Blind, which anonymously surveys technologists, went out and asked—and received some interesting answers in return.

According to Blind’s report (PDF), some 86 percent of technologists overall felt that their companies were safe places to work for LGBTQ+ individuals. However, 76 percent of LGBQ individuals and 64 percent of trans or gender non-conforming employees actually felt safe. Clearly there’s a bit of a dichotomy between employees’ perception of their workplace safety, and how LGBTQ+ individuals really feel about it.  

In a worrisome twist, the percentages of those feeling safe within their workplaces has dipped year-over-year:

Similar gaps popped up in other parts of Blind’s survey. For instance, although 74 percent of overall respondents thought their company offered “inclusive” health and family policies for LGBTQ+ workers, only 69 percent of LGBQ and 64 percent of trans or gender non-conforming respondents felt the same way.

Perhaps the starkest contrast came with questions of management. Although 55 percent of overall respondents felt that they were represented by their company’s upper management, only 35 percent of LGBQ and 41 percent of trans or gender non-conforming employees could say the same. 

The technology industry has spent years struggling with its diversity efforts. Although many firms (including the largest) have made very public shows of trying to boost the hiring and retention of underrepresented groups, diversity reports often show that real progress is slow. Advocacy organizations such as O4U (Out for Undergrad) and oSTEM (a nonprofit association for LGBTQ+ people in the STEM community) are also dedicated to broadening the pipeline for LGBTQ+ technologists and developers. 

Stack Overflow’s most recent edition of its Developer Survey, in which it asked tens of thousands of developers about everything from their favorite programming languages to their educational background, also queried them about their sexual orientation: 

Another question asked developers whether they were transgender:

For managers and executives, it’s not just a matter of refining the talent pipeline. Taking into account the safety of underrepresented employees might also be a good first step, as the Blind survey indicates there’s some serious concern in that area.