One of the major themes of International Pride Month is how dramatically the landscape has changed for LGBTQ people over the past few decades—and one measure of that change is the language employers use in job postings.
Over the past five years, Burning Glass Technologies data shows major increases in the number of job postings that include terms like gender identity and sexual orientation, particularly as part of equal opportunity employment statements. These statements are considered best practice but aren’t always mandatory.
To be sure, federal law makes it illegal for most employers to discriminate on the basis of transgender status, gender identity, or sexual orientation whether a company declares itself to be an “Equal Opportunity Employer” or not. But such a declaration is an important signal about the environment a company wants to promote to new hires. It signals the difference between active encouragement and passive compliance.
In the first six months of 2019, 33.2% of U.S. job postings included some kind of equal employment opportunity statement. A substantial number specifically used the terms sexual orientation (19.9%) or gender identity (17.4%).
As you can see above, the prevalence of employers signaling their openness to people of all sexual orientations has climbed dramatically over the past six years alone, rising from only 3.2% of postings in 2013 to 18.1% of postings last year. That works out to 5.1 million postings in 2018 compared to 588,962 in 2013 – a 766% increase.
Use of the term “gender identity” shows a similar pattern. Nearly 16% of the postings Burning Glass collected in 2018 used the term gender identity, up from only 1.3% five years earlier. In terms of actual postings, the number rose from 223,564 in 2013 to more than 4.4 million in 2018—a 1,902% increase.
By contrast, 31.2% of job postings used equal employment opportunity language in 2018, compared to 21.5% in 2013. That means the percentage of postings using terms like gender identity and sexual orientation grew at a much faster pace (1,115% and 465%, respectively) than postings mentioning equal opportunity employer (up 45%).
Job posting data can only be suggestive: as noted, not all employers are covered by the law and those that are covered aren’t always required to include an equal opportunity statement. The actual language can vary widely, depending on the company’s culture and goals. Plus, even with a strong EOE statement, discrimination can be unconsciously built into a hiring process.
But clearly more employers believe LGBTQ diversity is a goal worth embracing—and worth signaling to potential applicants.