Imagine you want to tell your colleagues about your vacation plans with your significant other, but you have to avoid any hint as to their gender. Bringing your partner to the company party? This is not an option; neither are pictures of your family on your desk. This may sound stressful and absurd to you. That’s why proutz is committed to a culture of trust at zeb, to allow each person to be themselves.
For many cisgender heterosexual people, it is perfectly normal to disclose their sexual orientation in the workplace. However, for queer people who feel part of the LGBTQI+ community, this is much more difficult – and not just when it comes to the gender of their significant other, but also in terms of their own sexual or gender identity. Between 40 and 50 % of queer employees feel that they have to worry more about some of the issues mentioned above than their cisgender heterosexual colleagues. The word “cis” refers to people whose gender identity corresponds to the sex assigned to them at birth. According to a 2020 survey, one in three people are not open about their LGBTI+ status. The reasons given for this include concerns about being reduced to one’s sexuality or identity, or about being treated differently by colleagues after coming out. Financial or reputational downgrading is also a major risk for people outed in the workplace. But why is it important to know the sexual orientation of your colleagues? Isn’t that a private matter?
Sexual orientation is not the same as sexual preferences. Those are indeed a private matter. Sexual orientation, however, is part of one’s personality. As the examples at the beginning of this text illustrate, hiding one’s personality can be enormously draining. Employees who are open about their sexual identity in the workplace therefore need to spend less energy on controlling their behavior and the content of their conversations. As a consequence, they suffer from fewer psychosomatic conditions, have a more positive opinion of their company and feel more loyal towards it. Accordingly, they speak more positively about their job satisfaction.
Moreover, a diverse and inclusive corporate culture improves the overall performance of teams. For all those reasons, it is important to us at zeb to foster a diverse environment in order to increase the satisfaction of our employees and the productivity of our project teams. We have started addressing these issues with various measures, including the use of gender-sensitive/gender-neutral language on our corporate websites and platforms, our anti-discrimination policy and our proutz initiative.
proutz is a network that aims to raise awareness, promote tolerance and understanding and thus counteract prejudice. Our goal is to shed light on various aspects of diversity and make them visible in order to foster an exchange of ideas and experiences within the community. Tabea and Michael, two of the initiators of proutz, discuss some of the basic concepts and the importance of an open and inclusive corporate culture in the video below (available in German only):