One Equal World

Being Out at Work Might Help You Succeed

Posted on: October 11, 2016

An image of a dark room. A single door is open and rainbow colors are spilling out of it. The words, "coming out" are written in the top left of the image.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Even in 2016, with all the advances that the LGBTQ+ community has made, it can still be hard to come out, particularly when it comes to one’s professional life. But the question of whether or not to come out at work is one that every member of the community has to address at some point, and there are benefits to doing so, just as there are downsides.

According to J.D. Schramm, a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, being out has been a boon in his professional life. It has allowed him to “lead out loud” as he calls it, namely to be authentic with those around him. Especially for people in leadership positions, coming out can help to put others at ease, as some employees and co-workers may feel that they’ve been mislead if they find out that one is a member of the LGBTQ+ community through some other channel.

While coming out can be a way to get out in front of a rumor, it also signals that one is comfortable with themselves and in their professional life. Of course, not everybody has reached that point yet, and there are a lot of factors to consider before coming out. Some people can be out in their personal but not professional lives, though this is becoming increasingly difficult as the lines between those lives blur thanks to social media and an increasing tendency of companies to “spy” on employees’ Facebook profiles.

While coming out can help one cement their position as a leader, it can also have negative consequences. Not every industry, workplace, or community is welcoming to LGBTQ+ people, and the environment in which one works is perhaps the most important consideration when deciding whether or not to come out. If nothing else, it may require more thought as to how, and when, to come out.

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