One Equal World

New Study Reveals Why LGBT People Leave the Tech Sector

Posted on: May 5, 2017

A road sign that reads, "Silicon Valley."

Photo credit: Shutterstock

More than two thousand adults in the United States responded to the “Tech Leavers Study,” a survey issued and analyzed by the Kapor Center for Social Justice, an Oakland-based organization. Respondents were selected for having left a job in the tech sector since 2013.

One of the primary aims of the study was to research what kept LGBT workers in or out of tech industries. The results were depressingly predictable.

More than any other minority group, LGBT people are still likely to be bullied out of the tech sector.

“People may think of Silicon Valley as a generally progressive place, but unexamined bigotry can still be pervasive,” study lead author Allison Scott, Ph.D., the chief research officer at the Kapor Center, said in an email to the Bay Area Reporter.

The study found that bullying and hostile work environments were pervasive, but that LGBT employees were the most common target. One in four were the target of rude behavior, another quarter report being publicly humiliated. Nearly two thirds of the LGBT subjects of the survey reported that they had left their tech job because of bullying from coworkers or superiors. As many reported that they would have stayed, if the company had done anything to address the behavior.

Perhaps more broadly meaningful, the study’s results looked at average training and severance costs to estimate that this bully-driven turnover costs the industry around $16 billion every year, more when it’s taken into account how many victims leave the industry entirely, taking all of their lifelong potential for output with them.

“For many years, we were unable to get anyone’s attention to the issues of diversity. This report is incredibly timely and important because if we don’t accurately diagnose the problems, we won’t be able to craft effective solutions,” said Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D., a co-chair of the Kapor Center for Social Justice. Companies can look to this study and others like it to provide focus to their own solutions.

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