If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you likely understand the value of acceptance and inclusion at work. However, these values are not always found in professional environments and can manifest in a lack of LGBTQ+ representation in leadership.

LGBTQ+ representation doesn’t end after recruiting and hiring — elevating LGBTQ+ employees to positions of leadership provides a “seat at the table” for voices traditionally underrepresented in the workforce. This, in turn, can help inspire younger employees and help create a more inclusive work environment. 

Taking that next step into a higher leadership role as an LGBTQ+ employee can feel daunting, especially if your company currently lacks diverse representation in management.

Why Does LGBTQ+ Leadership Matter?

According to a 2021 McKinsey study, LGBTQ+ employees often lack role models who share their identity. Only about half of LGBTQ+ respondents said they saw people like themselves in management positions at their organizations, while fewer than 25 percent of respondents reported having an LGBTQ+ sponsor. 

No matter the workplace, there are always opportunities for companies to improve their inclusion efforts. As an LGBTQ+ leader, taking the initiative to foster a more welcoming space for both yourself and your colleagues can ultimately lead to positive results. 

There are multiple professional development opportunities that both support and understand you, and can help you achieve higher levels of success. 

How LGBTQ+ Leadership Benefits Everyone

As society progresses, an increasing number of professionals are actively seeking out inclusive work environments. A 2023 article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that newer generations of workers are more actively engaged when they believe their employers foster an inclusive culture. 

Higher engagement from employees means 17 percent higher productivity — and 21 percent higher profitability — according to Gallup

A 2022 Gallup poll found that 20.8 percent of Generation Z and 10.5 percent of Millennials identify as LGBTQ+, compared to 4.2 percent of Generation X and 2.6 percent of Baby Boomers. Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of all respondents to a 2020 McKinsey survey said they had rejected a job offer or decided not to pursue a position because they felt that their potential employer was not inclusive.

Benefits of fostering LGBTQ+ leadership

Businesses with LGBTQ+ inclusive practices can see a positive impact on profitability and market valuation, and companies that welcome diversity amongst their employees can attract strong talent that ultimately leads to business success.

Losing talent is expensive, too; Gallup estimates that the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the person’s annual salary. 

Fostering an inclusive work environment can help companies attract and retain strong tallent, saving them the time and money of having to replace employees who leave for more diverse workplaces.

How LGBTQ+ Leaders Can Advocate for Themselves

Your ability to lead with confidence includes your workplace, colleagues, and peers embracing your authentic self. Learning how to develop this confidence and apply it to your career might require some focus, which is whyHarvard DCE Professional & Executive Development developed the program LGBTQ+ Leadership Program: Leading with Pride

This short, intensive program aims to help elevate and support LGBTQ+ leaders by helping them discover how to lead more fully, authentically, and effectively in ways that align with their values and identity. 

The program is specifically tailored to meet the needs of ambitious mid- to senior-level managers with 5+ years of experience. 

If you are presenting your case for investing in professional development, here are a few tips and resources:

Next Steps: Level Up Your Career

Harvard DCE’s LGBTQ+ Leadership Program: Leading with Pride offers guidance from qualified instructors on topics including:

  • Designing a personalized action plan outlining leadership goals and implementation strategies
  • Cultivating authentic leadership
  • Navigating organizational structures and cultures
  • Inclusive leadership that encompasses sexual orientation, gender identity, and allyship
  • Effective mentorship, sponsorship, and networking

Register today to gain this invaluable experience and reach the next stage of your career!