Telling your employer

  • bro4bro

    Posts: 1034

    Dec 20, 2013 7:15 PM GMT
    I work for a major American corporation in a very conservative industry. Twenty years ago if they found out you were gay you would probably be fired. Very recently they have granted full benefits to same-sex partners who are legally married.

    Yesterday the following item appeared in the weekly email newsletter:

    LGBT Self-Identification Program
    In an effort to improve the effectiveness of company policies and identify enhancements to diversity and inclusion efforts for [the company]’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, employees are invited to participate in an ongoing voluntary and confidential self-identification program on Employee Direct Access by identifying themselves as a member of that population under the “Personal Information” section of the site. This self-identification is strictly confidential.

    Since full benefits have already been granted to same-sex married couples, it seems to me there's no legitimate use for this information. They just want to find out who's gay. Given the poor track record of the company and the industry in dealing with LGBT issues, this is not something I feel at all comfortable with sharing. Part of me feels like forwarding the email to The Advocate or The Huffington Post, and letting the chips fall where they may.

    Maybe I'm overreacting. But to put things in perspective, what would the reaction be if the company asked Jews to "self-identify"? Is this any different?
  • Chainers

    Posts: 375

    Dec 20, 2013 7:21 PM GMT
    You are overreacting.

    Companies would not ask you just to fire you. Things have changed in Corporate America, and companies are realizing that being pro-gay attracts talent to the company from allies and family. The reason they are probably asking you is for tracking purposes, or because they want a diversity committee to make things better at the company.
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    Dec 20, 2013 8:04 PM GMT
    I agree with the original poster; it's definitely sketchy. There's a loose cannon in their HR department.

    Forwarding the email to The Advocate or The Huffington Post could be interesting. Be sure and do it anonymously with a sock account from a non-work computer, preferably one that can't be traced back to you.
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    Dec 20, 2013 8:29 PM GMT
    Pazzy has a point. Let's face it.. Every workplace has drama and scheming cunts. If a person higher up doesn't like you for whatever reason, they can find ways to railroad you outta there legally.

    Since OP mentioned that he works in a conservative industry/company, he should put some serious thought into this. Only he can decide what works best for his situation.
  • bro4bro

    Posts: 1034

    Dec 20, 2013 8:51 PM GMT
    Let me be clear: I'm not afraid of losing my job. They would not fire me for being gay (although they could make my life much more difficult if they wanted). They would definitely fire me for sending their email to an outside news service. If I were to do that, I'd be accepting that risk.

    My problem with the whole "self-identification" thing is that it is just plain wrong. IT. IS. NONE. OF. THEIR. BUSINESS. And I don't like the idea that corporations can get away with shit like this (Keeping a list of gay employees? Really?) just because they think no one's looking.
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    Dec 20, 2013 8:54 PM GMT
    Sketchy.
    Even if it's totally innocent it's still totally inappropriate.
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    Dec 20, 2013 9:15 PM GMT
    bro4bro saidLet me be clear: I'm not afraid of losing my job. They would not fire me for being gay (although they could make my life much more difficult if they wanted). They would definitely fire me for sending their email to an outside news service. If I were to do that, I'd be accepting that risk.

    My problem with the whole "self-identification" thing is that it is just plain wrong. IT. IS. NONE. OF. THEIR. BUSINESS. And I don't like the idea that corporations can get away with shit like this (Keeping a list of gay employees? Really?) just because they think no one's looking.


    In your original post, you italicized "invited to participate." This tells me that it's 100% voluntary. You are correct that it's none of their business and the company has given you an option.
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    Dec 20, 2013 9:29 PM GMT
    bro4bro saidLet me be clear: I'm not afraid of losing my job. They would not fire me for being gay (although they could make my life much more difficult if they wanted). They would definitely fire me for sending their email to an outside news service. If I were to do that, I'd be accepting that risk.

    My problem with the whole "self-identification" thing is that it is just plain wrong. IT. IS. NONE. OF. THEIR. BUSINESS. And I don't like the idea that corporations can get away with shit like this (Keeping a list of gay employees? Really?) just because they think no one's looking.


    let me give you a tip, as someone who has been through this, as corporate america (fortune 500) leads the way in gay friendly policies, and they are as evident by HRC. Top level management along with board members are making the friendly decisions to change.

    here is the problem:

    middle and lower management who dont agree with corporate leaders who are making the changes, some of these can and are the worst offenders, are old school everything, conservative and will not follow the newly enacted company policies. middle and lower management, especially ones that are long time employees, and depending on the department you are in, have there own HR people, who they control and do the HR people hiring, even though HR might be a separate department

    it is supposed to be top down management, CEO says he wants this and every manager down the chain is supposed to incorporate it into each level and department, that does not always work, especially in a former conservative industry or company because the left over attitudes. Believe me, many in management will fight like dogs to keep their own kush jobs when corporate above them makes decisions they dont agree with because of their bias or existing religious beliefs

    so...
    its not your fellow co-workers you have to worry about
    its not your top level management you have to worry about

    its your middle management you should worry about, the way some corporate structures itself (usually management top heavy) you may have 2 or 3 reporting bosses

    i can also tell you that 'company surveys' are supposed to be anonymous and 'third party', but with all the email tracking software the company IT dept has, your privacy is really not protected at work, they do have a way to track it and any comments you make, before you decide to make your life known, make sure you have a employee resource group (gay ERG) that you can confer with them first, if lgbt survey was made by them or they had input in the questions, just dont tell your department manager head about your life,
    but DO get to know your top level management who are supporting you
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    Dec 20, 2013 9:33 PM GMT
    It does sound like the sort of thing that happened twenty years ago. Here's how it went in the industry where I worked. If you "self identified" the feds would revoke your security clearance because a foreign agent might hook-up with you and you'd spill all the secrets (as if there were any) in pillow-talk. But if you declined, and they found out that you were gay, then you were by-definition "closeted" and they'd revoke your security clearance because a foreign agent might blackmail you over it and force you to spy for him. icon_rolleyes.gif And of course, since your job required a security clearance, you'd have to "leave the company," or get demoted to some token pre-termination job.

    Nah, I'm sure it's all different now.
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    Dec 20, 2013 9:43 PM GMT
    mindgarden saidIt does sound like the sort of thing that happened twenty years ago. Here's how it went in the industry where I worked. If you "self identified" the feds would revoke your security clearance because a foreign agent might hook-up with you and you'd spill all the secrets (as if there were any) in pillow-talk. But if you declined, and they found out that you were gay, then you were by-definition "closeted" and they'd revoke your security clearance because a foreign agent might blackmail you over it and force you to spy for him. icon_rolleyes.gif And of course, since your job required a security clearance, you'd have to "leave the company," or get demoted to some token pre-termination job.

    Nah, I'm sure it's all different now.


    yes, it is different, openly gay is no longer a security clearance issue, as long as you tell them, worst thing you can do now for that is be in the closet, being closeted opens up blackmail issues.

    HRC is promoting these lgbt self identifying surveys
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    Dec 20, 2013 9:52 PM GMT
    Maybe someone in hr didn't think this all the way though. I agree with you that it is absofuckinglutely none of their business and wouldn't participate in that survey.

    Later, if there is an lgbt-group, you can decide whether you want to join. Until then, business as usual.
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    Dec 20, 2013 9:54 PM GMT

    Hmmm...let's look at this for a moment: "Very recently they have granted full benefits to same-sex partners who are legally married."

    So if you were married, would you be not participating in these benefits? Because to do so you would have to tell them you're gay.
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    Dec 20, 2013 10:06 PM GMT
    Hm the way I see it, whenever a company mentions **it's voluntary to do whatever, in this case, self-identify if you're a homo, it's sketchy! They want to know your business, even if you refused and don't identify, they would get sorta annoyed about it! (Speaking from personal experiences). I learned my lesson from being Out in the workplace in the past, it kinda got me nowhere! I learn to keep my mouth shut and just share info of my life to the people I like/trusted, rarely these people are co-workers or bosses.
  • bro4bro

    Posts: 1034

    Dec 20, 2013 10:09 PM GMT
    Mindgarden,

    It is in fact the same industry.

    And Scruff,

    It has changed, but not all that much.

    The Security department regularly sends us "informational" emails that say "sexual misconduct" is grounds for denial or revocation of a security clearance. They also claim "sexual orientation alone" is not.

    Problem is, they don't define what "sexual misconduct" is, exactly. And when they say "sexual orientation alone" is not, they're implying it is, or can be, a factor. For that matter, they have never informed us what the "new" rules are for gay people. The only way to find out is to go to the Security ofice and make a "full disclosure" - and then they'll tell you what happens to you as a result.

    In my 27 years in the industry no one has ever asked me if I'm gay, so I haven't brought it up. It was never mentioned in any of the paperwork for my security clearances. But they consider it to be "hiding" my orientation if I don't answer a question they've never asked (another Catch-22).

    So, while this "voluntary" program may have been conceived innocently enough, I can see a huge potential for future abuse.

    And, getting back to my original question: Is this any different than asking people to "self-identify" as Jews?

  • bro4bro

    Posts: 1034

    Dec 20, 2013 10:20 PM GMT
    Oh, and meninlove...

    Actually I've always told myself if I ever found anyone to partner with I'd leave the industry and find a better way to make a living. Not because I'm embarrassed about them knowing I'm gay, but because my partner would have to submit to a background check. They'd be on record with the Federal Government as a known homo. OK, maybe that's not as bad as it used to be. But still, I would not ask anyone to do that for me.
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    Dec 20, 2013 10:45 PM GMT
    Chainers saidYou are overreacting.

    Companies would not ask you just to fire you. Things have changed in Corporate America, and companies are realizing that being pro-gay attracts talent to the company from allies and family. The reason they are probably asking you is for tracking purposes, or because they want a diversity committee to make things better at the company.


    Chainers is correct. This isn't sketchy at all.

    HR departments generally hold this kind of information extremely close to the vest. Where I work, there are clearly people who have self-identified to HR, but not authorized anyone else to know, so they don't get copied on all of the LGBT mailing list stuff.

    Probably there are reasons why the company will benefit from knowing that you're LGBT. In my industry, clients want data on how diverse we are, the more diverse, the better.
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    Dec 20, 2013 10:45 PM GMT
    I wouldn't trust them.
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    Dec 20, 2013 10:47 PM GMT
    Oh, and BTW, "self-identify" is a term of art in the diversity industry for LGBT folks. Query whether we need a diversity industry - but we have one. We have a diversity staff in my company, and any big company is likely to have one.
  • Chainers

    Posts: 375

    Dec 21, 2013 12:32 AM GMT
    showme said
    Chainers saidYou are overreacting.

    Companies would not ask you just to fire you. Things have changed in Corporate America, and companies are realizing that being pro-gay attracts talent to the company from allies and family. The reason they are probably asking you is for tracking purposes, or because they want a diversity committee to make things better at the company.


    Chainers is correct. This isn't sketchy at all.

    HR departments generally hold this kind of information extremely close to the vest. Where I work, there are clearly people who have self-identified to HR, but not authorized anyone else to know, so they don't get copied on all of the LGBT mailing list stuff.

    Probably there are reasons why the company will benefit from knowing that you're LGBT. In my industry, clients want data on how diverse we are, the more diverse, the better.


    Finally someone with a brain on this site.

    Some of these responses really make me wonder. Then again I've always been valuable so I never had to worry about this stuff.
  • Chainers

    Posts: 375

    Dec 21, 2013 12:42 AM GMT
    Captain_Teemo saidThey are probably going to round up all of [the company]’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgenders and take them to the gas chambers. That's what I would do. My dream is to become the next Hitler, except I would go after gays and not jews.


    This is why I'm glad for a block button...
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    Dec 21, 2013 12:43 AM GMT
    Just my opinion, but I don't think a company has any right to ask you to "self identify", and they certainly have no real need to know -- especially if the employee is single and not partaking in same-sex benefits anyway. It's not that I think one needs to hide this either, however I think a good general rule is to keep your personal life private from your employer. It's none of their business.
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    Dec 21, 2013 12:44 AM GMT
    NEVER TRUST A BUSINESS OR CORPORATION. THEY ARE ONLY OUT FOR THE COMPANY'S BEST INTEREST NOT YOURS. IF YOU BELIEVE OTHERWISE YOU ARE NAIVE. GIVEN ITS TRACK RECORD AS YOU PRESENT IT, I WOULD BE DOUBLY CAUTIOUS.

    Ask yourself: How is knowing who exactly is LGBT going to "improve the effectiveness of company policies and identify enhancements..." blah, blah, blah...?
  • Chainers

    Posts: 375

    Dec 21, 2013 12:45 AM GMT
    CuriousJockAZ saidJust my opinion, but I don't think a company has any right to ask you to "self identify", and they certainly have no real need to know -- especially if the employee is single and not partaking in same-sex benefits anyway. It's not that I think one needs to hide this either, however I think a good general rule is to keep your personal life private from your employer. It's none of their business.


    This would be a good idea, except that people bring spouses to company events all the time. It works in theory but not in practice. I really dont see what the big deal is and I would rather know that I can be myself at work without having to waste energy on gender neutral pronouns and such.
  • Chainers

    Posts: 375

    Dec 21, 2013 12:46 AM GMT
    UndercoverMan saidNEVER TRUST A BUSINESS OR CORPORATION. THEY ARE ONLY OUT FOR THE COMPANY'S BEST INTEREST NOT YOURS. IF YOU BELIEVE OTHERWISE YOU ARE NAIVE. GIVEN ITS TRACK RECORD AS YOU PRESENT IT, I WOULD BE DOUBLY CAUTIOUS.

    Ask yourself: How is knowing who exactly is LGBT going to "improve the effectiveness of company policies and identify enhancements..." blah, blah, blah...?


    It is really hard not to pity people like you.

    Never had an issue here, ever. And I worked in Finance.
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    Dec 21, 2013 12:51 AM GMT
    Chainers said
    CuriousJockAZ saidJust my opinion, but I don't think a company has any right to ask you to "self identify", and they certainly have no real need to know -- especially if the employee is single and not partaking in same-sex benefits anyway. It's not that I think one needs to hide this either, however I think a good general rule is to keep your personal life private from your employer. It's none of their business.


    This would be a good idea, except that people bring spouses to company events all the time. It works in theory but not in practice. I really dont see what the big deal is and I would rather know that I can be myself at work without having to waste energy on gender neutral pronouns and such.



    I don't necessarily disagree with you. Obviously, the best case scenario is an open and friendly work environment where everyone is accepted for who they are and can be themselves. However, in the real world this is, unfortunately, not always the case -- and that holds especially true *sometimes* in the corporate world. I think it depends on many factors -- the company, the particular employee and their value and likability to the company, etc.