Companies are coming around to more inclusive policies for LGBTQ+ employees. Discover which top companies proudly support the LGBTQ+ community in tech.
- Tech companies increasingly rely on talent from the LGBTQ+ community.
- Many well-known tech companies proudly support equality for LGBTQ+ employees.
- Resources like LGBTQ+ employee networks benefit colleagues and employers, too.
The importance of having diversity in STEM fields and other booming professions cannot be overstated. While LGBTQ+ employees currently lack federal protections in the workplace, many companies can and do implement policies to ensure equality for all.
LGBTQ+ inclusion benefits both the employee and the company, according to the 2021 Corporate Equality Index compiled by the Human Rights Campaign. The following tech companies support multi-faceted initiatives to protect LGBTQ+ employees.
The Importance of Including LGBTQ+ Professionals in Tech
Many LGBTQ+ individuals gravitate toward tech jobs, especially millennials, who represent the largest labor force group in the United States. LGBTQ+ workers are historically underrepresented in tech jobs, earning a fraction of a straight, cisgender man’s salary and often enduring a hostile work environment.
A 2021 poll by the Human Rights Campaign indicated that 7 out of 10 Americans support the Equality Act, which outlines general protections for members of the LGBTQ+ community. As of 2022, however, individual companies still must take it upon themselves to implement anti-discrimination policies for the workplace.
What Qualities Should LGBTQ+ Professionals Look For in a Tech Company?
Gender Neutral Bathrooms
Requiring employees to adopt a binary gender identity every time they walk into a bathroom at work can be disparaging. LGBTQ+ employees who identify as nonbinary or trans should enjoy a gender-neutral option for these facilities in the workplace. Gender-neutral bathrooms help to remove the stigma attached to gender associations and their potential for discrimination.
Respect of Self-Identification Pronouns
Respect in all forms is critical to a successful work environment. As personal as one’s name, preferred pronouns should be given but not assumed. Employers who take care to refer to LGBTQ+ and all employees by their self-ascribed name and pronouns are showing respect for their workers’ identities and human rights.
Equitable Leave Policies
Despite a lack of laws specifically prohibiting parental leave for LGBTQ+ families in the workforce, the language of most company policies restricts such benefits. Many companies do not recognize same-sex marriages as eligible for benefits, including family health insurance and parental leave after birth or adoption. Adopting more inclusive language may help solve this issue.
Some companies implement gender-specific dress codes, which can make LGBTQ+ employees feel uncomfortable and unseen. Companies that mandate work attire or uniforms based on gender may not take into account their valued gender-fluid, nonbinary, and/or trans workers. Adopting an inclusive dress code highlights the individual and their choice of self-expression.
Non-Discrimination Company Policies
Obviously, facing discrimination as an LGBTQ+ employee is not only personally devastating but also has long-term and wide-ranging effects. Some states uphold anti-discrimination policies as extra protection for minorities at work. However, employers must do their part to ensure all employees feel safe and respected in order to be productive and happy while on the job.
8 Tech Companies that Support LGBTQ+ Professionals
Ideally, the workforce of the future will universally support the LGBTQ+ community, with the following LGBTQ-friendly tech companies already leading the way.
Apple has woven employees from underrepresented communities.
Diversity and inclusion of LGBTQ+ communities are given prominence at Apple, which boasts the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company in corporate history. Apple has also thrown its weight behind lobbying against LGBTQ+ discrimination in multiple states.
AT&T was one of the first corporations to prohibit employee discrimination based on sexual orientation and write it into company policy in 1975. Established in 1987, League at AT&T was one of the nation’s first LGBTQ+ employee networks.
Today, AT&T employs more than 2,700 LGBTQ+ individuals. The company continues to sponsor LOVELOUD, an annual LGBTQ+ music festival, and launched its first digital Pride campaign in 2020. AT&T also publicly reaffirmed its support for the Equality Act in 2021.
Google’s commitment to LGBTQ+ friendliness reaches far and wide. In 2021 alone, the company donated $4 million alone to COVID relief for LGBTQ+ communities and trans-focused grants, including cash and ad buys through OutRight Action International.
Google also chooses to support and bring awareness to LGBTQ+ causes via its global platform. Google now allows businesses to add LGBTQ-friendly attributes to their profiles and integrates LGBTQ+ icons into its daily Doodle banners during Pride celebrations.
IBM has long championed equal rights for underrepresented minority groups in the tech sector. The company began providing domestic partner benefits to LGBTQ+ IBM employees working in the U.S. in 1996, which was the largest corporation of its kind to do so at the time.
IBM also collaborates with a variety of external partners — including Out and Equal and the Human Rights Campaign — to offer diversity training and support to LGBTQ+ employees. IBM’s CEO appealed personally to Congress to pass the Equality Act in 2019.
Microsoft addressed LGBTQ+ policies in its company doctrine before the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in 2015. The company added anti-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation in 1989 and began offering same-sex-partnership benefits in 1993.
Microsoft hosts the Global LGBTQIA+ Employee and Allies at Microsoft employee resource group. In 2022, the company launched a full line of Pride products and donated more than $170,000 to LGBTQ+ organizations, including OutRight Action International and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
PayPal is a staunch supporter of the Equality Act and boasts a perfect rating in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC’s) annual Corporate Equality Index. PayPal recently pulled plans to build a global company headquarters in North Carolina after the state passed discriminatory legislation against the LGBTQ+ community.
The company also stands behind other legislative bills that champion anti-discrimination laws through organizations like HRC and Texas Competes. PayPal is a longtime partner of Out in Tech and recently signed on to its Digital Corps initiative, creating websites for LGBTQ-friendly businesses.
Pinterest boasts a score of 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index for the second consecutive year. The company signed the watershed “friend of the court” Amicus Brief in 2019 to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Pinterest also offers LGBTQ+ employee resource groups and benefits compliant with the World Professional Association of Transgender Health. Pinterest designed and published its own gender transition guide in 2019 and added a custom gender field for new users in 2015.
Salesforce prioritizes the inclusion of LGBTQ+ employees and other underrepresented minorities through its equality groups, including Outforce and Salesforce Women’s Network. Salesforce also aims for 50% of its workforce to be comprised of underrepresented minorities by 2023.
In concert with Transgender Awareness Week in 2021, Salesforce launched gender-inclusive benefits for LGBTQ+ employees and their families.