Gay women are higher earners – but employers still "biased against gay men"

by Chloe Taylor14 Jan 2015
A study by World Bank has revealed that the earnings of gay women are significantly higher than their heterosexual colleagues – but homosexual men earn less.

The report found that in the Western world, gay women are paid up to 20% more than their straight colleagues.

However, the study found that gay men earned between five and 12% less in the same countries.

Dr Nick Drydakis, senior lecturer in economics at Anglia Ruskin University and the author of the report, attributed the differences in pay to career and lifestyle choices that gay women are more inclined to make.

These decisions might include opting for longer periods of education, degree choices, working longer hours or choosing male-dominated career paths with higher average salaries. The report found that such choices “differ from those they would have made had they adopted traditional gender-based household specialisation roles”.

The lower income of gay men was, according to the report, due to many organisations being “biased against gay men”.

The study stated that “the labour market values gay men's characteristics less than those of heterosexual men, and the difference in earnings is attributable to the failure of gay men to conform to traditional gender roles.”

It was also said that the gap in the earnings of gay men was directly related to “the strength of the firm’s bias against gay men.”

Researchers gathered information from across the globe, finding that male-dominated industries were biased against gay men in the recruitment process, while lesbians were discriminated against by recruiters in female-dominated professions.

In spite of higher earnings, gay employees were found to be more likely to experience harassment, unfair treatment at work and lower job satisfaction than heterosexual workers.

Fewer than 20% of countries have legislations in place to prevent workplace discrimination based on sexuality, The New Zealand Herald reported.

However, the study claimed that governments could improve opportunities for gay workers by promoting respect and equality in the workplace as well as publishing annual data on progress towards equality in relation to sexuality.

“If employers make their organisation’s stance on LGBT inclusiveness clear during the recruitment process this can help avoid any claims of discrimination or bullying from either party,” Michael Stevens of Rainbow Tick told HC. “That is why we recommend that raising this issue should be on the general menu of topics covered during the recruitment process. Visibility is key.”

 This can be done in a number of ways, Stevens said, including:
  • Becoming Rainbow Tick certified and thus able to include the logo on your recruitment site or in job ads and automatically signalling your openness
  • Having a simple statement – something along the lines of: “We aim to be an inclusive workplace for all, and do not discriminate on the grounds of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age or religion” and including this in recruitment packs.
“At times either employers or potential recruits may feel uncomfortable raising the topic, and that is why we suggest some sort of passive as the best way to acknowledge it,” Stevens added.


  • by Tony 14/01/2015 11:30:20 AM

    Thanks for sharing this story - interesting study on a topic that isn't easy to research.

    Just to clarify though, the report headline isn't accurate for the Australian market. The report actually stated that in Australia, Gay women earned 28% less than their female heterosexual counterparts (the opposite to the worldwide finding).

    Also, at the risk of sound pedantic, the source report adoesn't use the outdated terms of 'lifestyle choices' or 'homosexual' - these aren't appropriate terms to use when talking about LGBTI inclusion.

  • by Bek 15/01/2015 11:51:53 AM

    I agree with the use of the outdated terms. However, in this case I don't think they meant being gay is a 'lifestyle choice' (!) Instead, I think they meant people who are gay may tend to make different career and lifestyle choices (when compared to the larger population) which could have an effect on the results. Eg- May be less likely to have children which could impact earning potential.

    Thank you for sharing the results in an Australian context though! This is very interesting. Is there any reason given for our apparent difference vs the rest of the world?

  • by Rex 16/01/2015 11:21:56 AM

    Just a comment from the left field - if employers are not permitted to ask a person's sexual orientation,, why would there be the need to be "rainbow ticked"? In reality, the topic should not even arise.

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