February 27, 2023

Essential Guide to Being Out at Work: A Discussion on Coming Out as LGBTQ+

Being out at work is something that can be a difficult decision for many LGBTQ+ and TGNC individuals and it is one of the hottest topics for an LGBTQ+ coach. The path to coming out at work is often different for everyone, and it’s important to remember that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of being out at work, share tips on how to come out, and provide resources for additional support.

Should You Come Out at Work?

Coming out at work can be complex. If you are considering coming out at your workplace, it is important to think through the potential risks and rewards of doing so.

One of the biggest benefits of coming out at work is that it allows you to be your true self without the burden of having to avoid certain topics and hide parts of your identity. Being your true self can give you a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, as well as help you build stronger relationships with colleagues. Additionally, coming out at work can help create a more inclusive work environment and encourage others to do the same.

On the other hand, there are potential risks associated with coming out at work. Depending on the culture in your workplace, there is the possibility that you may face discrimination or harassment from colleagues or supervisors. Additionally, there is the risk that coming out could have a negative impact on your career prospects or job security.

It is important to take into account both the risks and rewards when deciding if you should come out at work. When you decide to come out, here are some steps you can take to make sure you protect your mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as your safety and security.

Decide How You Want to Respond to Possible Reactions

Before you decide to come out, consider how you want to handle any potential negative reactions, microaggressions or discrimination that could come as a result of coming out. People’s reactions don’t have to dictate when and how you come out. That said, it can help to think through how you will respond ahead of time.

  • Think about who you would like to come out to first, and what their potential reactions might be. It might be helpful to practice responding to different reactions with a trusted colleague or coach in order to gain confidence in how you want to handle possible reactions.
  • Talk to an LGBTQ+ resource group to get advice on how to best approach coming out at work. They may be able to provide advice in managing possible reactions to you coming out, based on their experience in the company.
  • Ensure that you have access to resources such as legal advice or mental health support in case you need them.

Develop a Support System

Having a support system in place when coming out as LGBTQ+ and TGNC at work is essential for managing any potential risks. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do it alone and can draw on the support of your peers and colleagues.

  • The first step to having a supportive system in place is to identify who in your workplace you feel comfortable confiding in. This could be a trusted colleague or boss, or even an executive coach. Having someone to talk to can help you make sense of your experience of coming out.
  • Your next step should be to create an LGBTQ+ network. This can be done by joining an existing LGBTQ+ group in your workplace or forming one yourself. Being a part of a larger community can provide you with the support and advice you need. Additionally, it can help to create a safe space for discussion and socializing.
  • Once you’ve identified a support system, it’s important to reach out to them before, during and after you come out. They can help you navigate any potential issues that may arise and provide you with emotional support. Additionally, they can help to ensure that you’re treated fairly and given the same respect and privileges as other employees.

Reach Out for Professional Help

Coming out as LGBTQ+ at work can be an exciting and scary process, and seeking professional help and support from a coach who specializes in working with LGBTQ+ professionals can be incredibly beneficial.

  • The International Coaching Federation offers a Credentialed Coach Finder on its website where you can search for coaches who specialize in working with LGBTQ+ individuals. If you have coaching benefits through your employer, such as Lyra Health, you can ask their customer support team to help you find a LGBTQ+ focused coach.
  • Working with an experienced coach can help you to become more self-aware and gain a better understanding of who you are and what is important to you. This can be especially beneficial as you come out, as it can provide a safe space to explore and express your identity without fear of judgement.
  • A certified coach can also help you to develop effective communication skills, which can be beneficial when coming out at work. It can help you to understand how to effectively communicate your identity to colleagues and managers, and learn how to respond to any questions or concerns that may arise.

LGBTQ+ Professional Resources

The process of coming out at work can be daunting – especially if you don’t have access to the right resources. Fortunately, there are a number of LGBTQ+ professional resources available to help guide those who are out at work.

  • Out & Equal is a non-profit organization that works with employers to create equitable workplace environments for LGBTQ+ people. The organization provides workshops, training, and consulting services to help foster understanding and acceptance in the workplace. It also offers a comprehensive library of resources for LGBTQ+ professionals, including information about legal rights and protections, workplace policies, and best practices.
  • The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is a leading national organization dedicated to protecting LGBTQ+ rights. HRC provides a wealth of information on workplace rights, including state and federal laws, employment policies, and other resources. HRC also offers a variety of counseling and support services to LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as a list of recommended books to read and films to watch.
  • The National LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is another great resource for professionals. NGLCC is the largest global advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ business owners, and it offers a range of programs and services designed to help LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs succeed. This includes networking events, business development opportunities, and access to capital.

About the author: Kirsten Bunch is a writer, speaker and certified leadership coach who helps LGBTQ+ professionals get promoted to leadership positions without sacrificing their queer identities. Get your free Out CEO Checklist.

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