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WSJ: Should Employers Out Themselves To Job Applicants

Jim Burroway

April 9th, 2010

The economy is in the dumps, but job losses have slowed significantly, and the recent jobs report indicates a very modest increase in hiring. But there are still a lot of unemployed workers chasing too few jobs. The Wall Street Journal poses a question worth discussing: Should Gay Owners Out Themselves? My immediate answer was absolutely not; just as it’s none of the employer’s business to ask the applicant’s sexual orientation, the same principle should apply in reverse. This seemed like a no-brainer to me, but some gay employers have found some gray area in that thinking.

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Jason D
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

“My immediate answer was absolutely not; just as it’s none of the employer’s business to ask the applicant’s sexual orientation, the same principle should apply in reverse.”

Except that the power doesn’t flow equally in both directions, thus your reversal doesn’t make sense.

For example. a business can be sued for firing an employee for their sexuality……can a business sue an employee for leaving due to the sexuality of the owner/board president/supervisor?

A business can be sued because they refused to hire a black man because of his race…..can a business sue because a candidate refused to work due to the race of the employer/other employees?

No. We are absolutely free to leave any job at any time so long as there is not a contract involved.

An owner who outs him/herself is in many respects protecting him/herself from HR issues and the expense of hiring and training an employee who quits two days later.

Lindoro Almaviva
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

Well, let me tell the story from the opposite side:

Back in 2000 I was interviewing for a job is a Temp Agency and it seemed that it was going well, I sensed that i was going to get an offer. When the interview was abut over, the inevitable is there anything else you want to add? question came out and without thinking I said (This being an agency that staffed for industrial jobs, I expected it to be very homophobic): Yes, you need to know that i am gay and i will come to work as a gay man and will do my job as a gay man and if there is anyone in here who might have an issue with that, or if you have an issue with that, or if the company will have an issue with that, don’t bother calling me My future employer said Perfectly fine, i don’t have an issue with that, so we will get along beautifully. You’ll get a call from me soon

I worked for this company for 2 years and I am still in contact with this former boss who is now a good friend. I was one of the first calls get made when she got engaged.

Fastforward a couple of years and i was again in the job market. I was interviewing with the distribution center of one of the divisions of TJMAXX (TKMAXX, in Europe) and when the same questions was asked (again, this being a warehouse and I was expecting it to be a homophobic environment)I fired up the same answer. This time my future boss said: not a problem, our non discrimination policy, unlike the government, does include sexual orientation, so if anyone here gives you a hard time, please let us know so we can take care of that right away

I worked there for 5 years…

I do see a gray area and I think that sometimes it can be a good thing when you out yourself and sometimes probably not so good. I have made it a policy to out myself; I just tell prospective employers that I will not work for a company that puts a bigger emphasis on my personal life than in my job performance and that they could not pay me enough to deal with abusive people. Most of the time, I just get a nod and a I can understand that. Then, one of the first things i put on my desk is a pic of me with the hubby…

Candace
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

FYI….. the recent modest increase in hiring was due to hiring thousands and thousands of temporary Census workers. (Those jobs will last about 3 months, if that.) Last week there was an “unexpected” jump in Unemployment claims. Why? The first round of temporary Census workers have already been laid off for lack of work.

On the bright side, many wingnuts are refusing to send back their Census forms, thus there will be less Republican representation in Congress and perhaps the Administration will finally be able to do something to create real jobs for unemployed Americans.

Ben in Oakland
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

I think outing is ALWAYS a good idea. The closet is the enemy.

Back when my business was flourishing and I needed employees, that wiould always be the last thing I would discuss in the interview. I work at home, my husband is often around. I did not want to waste my time hiring someone who would not work out, nor owuld i wish to give my money to anyone who sees me as a fag before he sees me as another human bieng.

Richard Rush
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

My partner and I will soon be hiring a general contractor for a major renovation of our little house. I will be informing the potential bidders that we are a gay couple, although unless they are really dense, it should be obvious since the titles on the drawings and specification read,
“House Renovations for my-name and his-name.”

I realize a potential contractor may hide their anti-gay attitude in order to get the job in this bad economy, but as long as we inform them, there is not much else we can do.

While neither one of us generally make a point of informing people that we are gay, we don’t make special efforts to hide it either. Perhaps due to being older and thus growing up decades ago, we are not as forthcoming as young people seem to be today.

paul j stein
April 9th, 2010 | LINK

My spouse worked for a large interior furnishings distributor, BLANK&BLANK Interiors in Sandusky Ohio. This firm is owned by 2 Gay men. He was harassed by a straight guy calling him Faggot, Queer, Cocksucker. At the time he was living a straight lifestyle, and not ever dating men. The supervisor did NOTHING about it for months until his female co-worker stepped in and damn near killed the idiot. He was treated hospital with stress induced panic attacks.the next day I very clearly told the owners what was going on and still they kept the harasser employed and laid off my spouse. GAY owned is NO guarantee of proper actions in dealing with GAY hate crimes in the workplace.

Mike Camardelle
April 10th, 2010 | LINK

My partner and I present ourselves to other people just as we are, 2 men. We’re in the process of building a house and have grown to have a close relationship with our builder and his crew. While he has different views (Sarah Palin, Tea Party, etc) that have come up in conversations, he’s never acted differently towards us in anyway. I’ve confided in him that I hope our new neighborhood is as welcoming as the old, since there are children in the area. He’s confided in me wondering if some problems we initially had with the homeowners association and the architectural review committee were because we’re a gay couple. Everything has been on the up and up, and it’s no different in conversations anyone would have, unless they were trying to hide something. Even our planner, working closely with us for two months customizing our plans, has been just as warm and welcoming as anyone else could be, but again, we’ve been honest. I truly believe that whether you’re a business owner or a prospective hire, you have the right to represent yourself as who you truly are.

Note: We live in Mississippi.

Shannon
April 10th, 2010 | LINK

Personally I think that would make for a rather awkward interview. Well we’ll give you a call btw I’m gay/straight.

Which ever they said I would squirm, I mean what do I say “good for you, or thanks but that was too much information?” Plus anytime I’m getting interviewed I’m nervous, if I’m nervous I’m prone to awkward thoughts. I really, really don’t want to think of any potential employer in the sack with anyone of any gender.

Also do you continue up the ladder?
Example Statement: I’m straight, my boss is gay, her supervisor is straight, no one is sure about the executive manager, oh and the CEO is… etc. etc.

I suppose I can see the reasoning, after all seemingly nice people can become quite vicious if they turn out to be prejudiced against you for some reason.

I still think it’s awkward though, there are parts of everyone’s lives that overs might not “approve” of or simply don’t need to know. Do we have to start listing them off at every first meeting? Regardless of whether or not it should have any effect on them or their work?

Burr
April 11th, 2010 | LINK

Yeah I don’t think it’s a great idea unless it’s going to be an obvious consideration (i.e. lots of gay employees or customers). Otherwise better to feel out a prospective’s confidence with diversity in general. Anyone who can’t work with others for any stupid non-work related reason can take a hike.

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