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A new national survey reveals that a growing number of Americans today believe that discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in workplaces and in public accommodations is wrong.
The new survey informed respondents that federal law prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations (e.g., at a retail store, library, courthouse, or restaurant), housing and credit, on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion or disability, but there is no federal law today that protects someone who is gay or transgender from discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing or credit. When asked if they would favor or oppose such a law, 2 out of 3 (67%) Americans agreed, with 36% saying they “strongly support” a federal law, while, by contrast, only 15% saying they “strongly oppose” such a law. By contrast, just last year, when asked a similar question, 62% of Americans supported federal nondiscrimination legislation. In 2016, 72% of younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 34, support such a federal law (with 38% expressing strong agreement).
These and other findings were included in the 2016 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, released today. The annual study was conducted online between September 19 and October 3, by The Harris Poll® in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck Communications, among 2,223 U.S. adults, of whom 143 self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (which includes an over-sample of gay and lesbian adults). Launched in 2002, this survey is a highly respected annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and the longest-running national opinion survey of its kind.
Americans Respond to Corporations that Oppose North Carolina’s HB2
In April, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed HB2 into law, a state measure that repealed LGBT anti-discrimination policies adopted by the city of Charlotte, NC. This action has been strongly opposed by civil rights leaders, as well as by more than 200 major employers that do business in North Carolina. In addition, profitable, major sports events sponsored by the NCAA, NFL, NBA and ACC have withdrawn from the state.
Given this backdrop, the survey also asked Americans whether they were more or less likely to purchase goods and services from, or to work for, companies that are opposed to North Carolina’s HB2 – or whether it has no effect on their preferences. The poll revealed that 72% of Americans were more likely (26%) or as likely (46%) to purchase goods and services from these companies. When asked about the likelihood to work for these companies that oppose HB2, 71% said they were more likely (25%) or as likely (46%) to work for one of these companies.
When younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 were asked, however, their attitudes appeared sharper. More than 1 in 3 younger Americans (35%) indicated they would be more likely to patronize a company that opposes HB2, compared to fewer than 1 in 4 adults ages 35+ (23%).
“Despite America’s polarization during this charged election year, we should be encouraged that fundamental fairness matters deeply to most Americans and to our corporate leaders,” said Selisse Berry, Founder, CEO, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. “Out & Equal takes heart knowing so many corporations will fiercely stand up for equality in America and around the world.”
With the Out & Equal Workplace Summit just concluded last week in Orlando, the scene of the tragedy at Pulse last June, Berry added that these findings are especially poignant. “Every day, we need to rededicate ourselves to honoring the lives we’ve lost and to building a hate-free society committed to equality for all.”
Transgender Americans on the Job
The survey also probed attitudes about workplace policies related to transgender employees, with nearly 9 out of 10 (88%) of all Americans in accord that employees should be judged for how well they perform their jobs, and not whether they are transgender. More than 2 in 5 of all Americans (44%) also agree that employers should make health insurance coverage available to transgender people who wish to seek gender affirmation surgery.
By significant majorities, most Americans agree that employers should show respect and dignity for transgender workers in a number of ways. Specifically:
75% of all Americans agree that regardless of the legal name and gender of an employee, employers should use an employee’s pronouns and desired name when communicating with them and when referring to them to third parties.
73% of all Americans agree that employers should learn everyone’s pronouns and preferred name and use them in the workplace.
63% of all Americans agree that employers should intervene when an employee regularly misuses a co-worker’s pronouns or preferred name.
59% of all Americans agree that regularly misusing a colleague’s pronouns or preferred name is a form of workplace harassment.
Finally, when thinking about policies at work and in public accommodations, respondents were asked whether transgender men and women should be permitted to use restrooms that best match their current gender identity – even if they have not medically transitioned. About 2/3rds of all Americans agree that appropriate restroom access should be available for transgender adults at work and in public, without requiring medical transition.
“These trends, as we have seen year over year, give us more confidence that the workplace and marketplace are aligned with America’s supportive attitudes towards LGBT people,” said Bob Witeck, President of Witeck Communications.
2016 Out & Equal Workplace Summit
The 2016 Out & Equal Workplace Summit was held last week in Orlando, Florida, successfully attracting a record 4,100 attendees from more than 30 countries. LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human resources and diversity professionals, representing a broad cross-section of the nation’s leading companies—a majority from the Fortune 500 — are participating in this year’s Summit, focused on achieving workplace equality.
For more information about the Summit, please visit www.outandequal.org
This Harris Poll was conducted online (in partnership with Out & Equal and Witeck Communications) within the United States between September 19 and October 3, 2016, among 2,223 adults (ages 18 and over), of whom 143 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (including an over-sample of lesbian and gay adults). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. In addition, the results for the gay and lesbian sample were weighted separately based on profiles of the gay and lesbian population that The Harris Poll has compiled through many different online surveys. Propensity score weighting also was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Poll, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
About Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is the world’s premiere nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workplace equality. Out & Equal collaborates with Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies to provide a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for LGBT employees.
For two decades, since 1996, Out & Equal has worked with executives, human resources professionals and Employee Resource Groups to provide leadership and professional development, education and research.
Out & Equal hosts an annual Workplace Summit, where employees and experts from around the world gather to share strategies and best practices to create workplace equality, inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. For more information go to www.outandequal.org.
About The Harris Poll®
Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit us at TheHarrisPoll.com.