LGBTQ2IA+ Career Resources
Being Out in the Workplace
Deciding whether, how, or when to disclose your sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace can be a complex process. It is important to remember that the decision to disclose is entirely up to you and can vary depending on each situation or job opportunity. Regardless, be sure to always consider your personal safety before making the decision to disclose. If you decide to “come out”, there are three common opportunities for disclosure: (1) on your resume, (2) in the interview, and (3) once you begin working for the organization.
If you would like to discuss strategies for disclosure in the workplace, connect with a Career Advisor or the Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisor through attending a drop-in session or making an appointment.
It is a personal decision to “out” yourself in your resume, cover letter, and/or interviews. Before you begin writing your resume, consider the following questions:
- Do you want to include any LGBTQ2IA+ related volunteer or work experiences?
- Are you comfortable disclosing your sexual orientation or gender identity on your resume?
- Will you be using your legal name?
- While you can use your name for your resume, the law requires you to use your legal name on any police checks and tax forms (such as T4 slips or TD1 forms).
Wording Your Resume
Depending on your comfort level, you may choose to strategically code your LGBTQ2IA+ related experiences on your resume. For example: “LGBTQ2IA+ Engagement Peer Helper” could be written as “Student Experience Peer Helper” or “Diversity Engagement Peer Helper”.
Remember a resume is a summary of your education and work experience (paid and unpaid), extra-curricular activities and individual achievements. It should demonstrate your capabilities, responsibilities and interests. So, how can you emphasize the skills you gained through LGBTQ2IA+ related experiences without “outing” yourself?
- Emphasize the skills you used, rather than organization itself
- Highlight skills such as event-planning, organizational or analytical skills.
- Omit any reference
- You might come to the conclusion that you would not want to include any LGBTQ2IA+ related experiences. This is a personal choice and is okay.
In Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits employers from asking about sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), asking improper or illegal questions is enough to prove discrimination. HOWEVER, if you discuss personal information, employers can ask follow-up questions relating to identity.
- For example: Indicating that “my partner and I will be moving to Alberta and are both looking for jobs” gives the employer the opportunity to ask questions about said partner
- But, it is never okay for an employer to ask the gender or sexual identity of you or your partner
If you are asked an illegal interview question, it is up to you to decide how you want to respond. Depending on the circumstances you could decide to stop the interview there and walk out, deflect the question, or answer the question. You may also choose to make a human rights complaint – called an application – by contacting the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Consider using the following responses if you are asked any illegal interview questions:
- Could you please explain how this is applicable to my performance in this job?
- I would prefer not to answer this question.
- My [gender identity/sexual orientation/family status etc.] does not affect my ability to perform in this job.
Advice for those interviewing that may be gender non-conforming, non-binary and/or genderqueer:
- Based on your comfort level, you can make the decision to disclose your pronouns during the interview
- You have the control to educate others about your identity
- Each employer or interviewer may react differently or have different levels of education on gender non-conformity
- The degree of gender non-conformity or conformity you present in the interview may lead to expectations around appearance and behavior once you obtain work
LGBTQ2IA+ Friendly Workplaces
- Is there a LGBTQ2IA+ support/resource group?
- Does the place of work have at least one gender-neutral washroom?
- Has the organization supported any LGBTQ2IA+ initiatives or community activities?
- Does the organization have any LGBTQ2IA+ focused competency training?
- Am I willing to work for an organization that does not support LGBTQ2IA+ individuals?
- Am I willing to conceal my LGBTQ2IA+ identity for the duration of my employment?
- What does this job mean to me? How long do I plan on staying?
- You may feel it unnecessary to disclose if you are only staying short-term.
The Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) is a law that provides for equal rights and opportunities and recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario. The Code prohibits discrimination against someone or to harass them because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or their marital status. This includes same-sex relationships. This right to be free from discrimination and harassment applies to employment, services and facilities, accommodation and housing, contracts and membership in unions, trade or professional associations.
When is it harassment?
Harassment is making demeaning or hurtful comments or actions that are known or should be known to be unwelcome. Inappropriate behavior does not always have to happen repeatedly to be against the law. A single incident might be serious enough. Some examples are:
- Homophobic jokes or hints being made about a person's sexual orientation or same-gender relationship
- If you’re repeatedly being misgendered when you’ve already shared what your pronouns are
When is it discrimination?
Discrimination happens when a person is treated unequally or differently because of sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, or a same-sex relationship, and it results in a disadvantage to that person. It is also against the law to tell others to discriminate because of sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, or a same-sex relationship. Discrimination can result from a person’s actions, inaction, or from an organization’s rules and policies. Some examples are:
- An employee is denied promotions, training or is fired because of their sexual orientation or same-sex relationship
- A company’s health insurance plan covers the needs of an opposite-gender partner but not a same-sex partner
- Jarred Sanchez-Cacnio (Sexual and Gender Diversity Advisor): Provides advising and support for students who are LGBTQ2IA and other identities that fall outside of heterosexual and cisgender paradigms.
- Lord John Browne’s “The Glass Closet”: Written by one of the few openly gay business figures, this is an essential read for anyone taking diversity in the workplace seriously.
- Pride at Work Canada : Provides a job search engine with employers who provide services that support individual strategies for inclusion based on gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation.