Nearly 40% of LGBTQ employees at tech companies who participated in a recent survey said they’ve witnessed some form of gender or sexuality-related discrimination at work.
The anonymous workplace chat app Blind recently polled more than 7,000 Silicon Valley workers about their perceptions of their companies’ acceptance and treatment of LGBTQ employees. The results, provided exclusively to Business Insider, show that although an overwhelming majority of queer tech employees say their workplaces are “safe spaces,” a significant number of respondents say they’ve witnessed homophobic and discriminatory behavior.
The survey from Blind also showed a breakdown of harassment and discrimination at various tech companies. At least half of LGBTQ-identifying employees at Facebook, Oracle, LinkedIn, and Netflix all said they had witnessed homophobic harassment in the workplace. Silicon Valley staples including Uber, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon all saw more than a quarter of its queer employees say they had seen homophobia on display in their offices.
There was, however, a stark discrepancy between the amount of straight employees and LGBTQ workers who reported witnessing harassment and discriminatory behavior. Although nearly 40% of LGBTQ-identifying employees who responded told Blind they had seen homophobic behavior in the workplace, only 8% of non-LGBTQ tech workers reported witnessing harassment.
The results of the Blind survey are not representative of an entire company or its workforce; they represent only the views of employees who choose to use the Blind app. Still, the survey provides an interesting glimpse into the state of LGBTQ treatment within the Silicon Valley corporate world, at a time when the issue is in the news at one major tech company.
It’s also worth noting that California, where most of the tech companies in the survey have their headquarters, is one of only 21 states in the US that have laws protecting people in the workplace from being fired, not hired, or discriminated against based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
Blind’s survey provided a company-by-company breakdown of employees who feel their place of work is a safe space, and most companies included in the results reached above 90% of surveyed employees responding in the affirmative. Intel ranked among the lowest at over 17% saying they did not feel the company was a safe space, followed by Amazon. Interestingly, Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook is openly gay, ranked the third worst in this part of the survey, with 10.2% of respondents describing it as not a safe space for LGBTQ employees.
And Google, the tech company that’s gotten the most flak recently over its LGBTQ policies, didn’t fare nearly as poorly as some of its Silicon Valley neighbors.
Blind, which verifies users by their work emails, didn’t disclose the number of employees from each company who responded, but only 25% of LGBTQ-identifying Google employees said in the survey they had witnessed harassment in the workplace. More than 94% of surveyed Google employees, both straight and LGBTQ-identifying, said they felt the tech giant was a safe space.
Earlier this month, Google decided not to remove videos from a YouTube personality who used homophobic and racial slurs referring to a Vox journalist. YouTube’s inaction was met with criticism not only from the public LGBTQ community, but from employees within the company. LGBTQ Googlers told news outlets that they felt afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation from both the company and their coworkers.
“It’s hard to put my shoes on everyday and go to work when I don’t think the company I work for supports my identity,” a Google engineer, who wished to remain anonymous, told Business Insider.
On Monday, leaked internal emails revealed that Google employees who wished to march alongside the official Google float during the San Francisco Pride parade were forbidden from protesting YouTube’s LGBTQ policies – doing so would be a violation of the company’s communications policy (although Google said employees were free to protest YouTube if they marched on their own, or with other groups).