The experience of being the only one in the room of one’s gender, race and sexual orientation can be a powerful reminder of the discrimination women and minorities still face in the workplace. In a survey by McKinsey & Company, 18 percent of men said they experienced this situation regularly, while it was shared by 29 percent of women. Excluding minority and/or LGBTQ+ men, only 8 percent of straight white men experienced being the only one in the room often or always. While the sexes are equally spread, around 60 percent of U.S. Americans are non-Hispanic whites, according to the Census.
In contrast, 58 percent of female LGBTQ+ respondents found themselves as the only one in the room often and that number rose to 66 percent with LGBTQ+ women of color. The report found that LGBTQ+ people were still underrepresented in U.S. workplaces and that this effect was confounded for LGBTQ+ women. While around 5 percent of women in the U.S. identify as LGBT, the report only found 2.3 percent at entry level positions and less than one percent in managerial positions. For LGBTQ+ men, around 4 percent identified as LGBTQ+, while representation in the workplace reached around 3 percent for entry-level employees as well as managers.
The report assumes that there is a substantial number of employees in the U.S. that are closeted at work and do not tell their co-workers about their sexual orientation. In LGBTQ+ women, however, those who felt it was possible to come out at work were happier with their jobs. For LGBTQ+ people overall, between 21 and 36 percent said their sexual orientation was a barrier for progressing at their company.