Roughly 5.6% of Americans identify as members of the LGBT community, according to a February poll from Gallup, but a staggering 46% of them are not out of the closet at work.
That statistic is attributed to a widely referenced 2018 study from the Human Rights Campaign, and surely casts confusion on an industry such as Hollywood — where expectations around acceptance and representation have shifted dramatically in recent years, to say nothing of the authentic voices the town loves to celebrate.
While many point to groundbreaking content like the “Queer Eye,” series from Ryan Murphy or the glorious voguers of “Legendary,” the workplace culture in show business can often inspire fear, according to Dr. Tasmin Plater, head of human resources at creative powerhouse Endeavor Content.
“I’ve worked in a ton of industries where certain assumptions have been made about me. I’ve been with my husband for about 12 years and practicing human resources about just as long. From manufacturing to logistics to entertainment to retail, I was always afraid, wondering if someone found out I was married to a man. I purposely shielded my relationship,” he says.
In his doctoral research, Plater found that fear of job loss, not being promoted, and being harassed were of primary concern to closeted employees. As institutions worked toward inclusion and celebration, however, he found job satisfaction increased as those fears decreased.
“The correlation should tell employers that fear is impacting their bottom line,” he says.
Plater uses his data — collected at institutions like UCLA’s Williams Institute, which has top research on queer people in the workplace, and Capella University — to inform health benefit structure, programs and culture at Endeavor Content.
“There’s always communication about our policies and practices. We’re always challenging the status quo. We introduced pronouns last year and had a self-identity campaign talking about how we identify. We can and must facilitate easy name changes, and know what deadnaming is and how to avoid it for individuals who are transitioning. Our benefits are starting to reflect that as well,” he says.
“My first year at Endeavor Content, our co-president Graham Taylor bought pride cellphone cases for everyone at the company. Those things show that it’s not just the month of June where I can be myself. We program throughout the entire year, and put our money where our mouth is from a benefits and programs perspective.”