As a result, they are missing out on access to a $5trn (£3.7trn) market, improved brand recognition, better customer relationships, a wider pool of talent and a boost to share performance.
The research – based on a survey of 231 high-potential LGBT+ employees and 28 corporate leaders from Out Leadership member organisations – shows that 74% of the LGBT+ employees felt that being out has had a positive effect on their career opportunities and progress, while 61% found it had boosted their ability to do business and engage with customers.
Disappointingly, though, more than a third (39%) do not think their employer is doing enough to promote LGBT+ diversity in the workplace, while 65% say their company fails to use LGBT+ inclusion to commercial advantage.
PwC global chairman Bob Moritz agrees. He warns that too many LGBT+ employees still feel unable to come out. “This hinders not only the organisations in recruiting and retention but, more importantly, this hinders the careers of LGBT+ professionals.
“All of us need to create inclusive environments where LGBT+ talent can feel safe, free to be their true selves, and fully participate in the workplace.”
He called on fellow business leaders to be “loud in their support for LGBT+ colleagues”.
The research reveals the existence of a wide gap between LGBT+ employees’ aspirations and what their employers actually provide in terms of targeted support.
Although all the LGBT+ employees say an obvious pathway to promotion is important, just 29% of employers have established programmes focused on retaining them. And where such programmes do exist, only 12% of LGBT+ employees are aware of them.
There are other mismatches between expectation and reality – nearly 60% of employers say they have created a pathway to senior management, but only 43% of LGBT+ employees think this is accurate.
And while 99% of the LGBT+ employees believe an organisation’s reputation as a fair and equal employer is important when deciding where to work, only 57% of employers see it as a significant factor in their ability to attract LGBT+ talent.
Out Leadership founder Todd Sears says that the past five years have seen huge strides forward in the development of the next generation of LGBT+ talent.
In 2013, his organisation reported that only 9% of LGBT+ women and 17% of LGBT+ men felt their orientation was an asset. Now more than 60% think it benefits them in their field.
“The game has changed but many companies are still missing out on significant opportunities to drive business through inclusion,” Sears adds.
The report also offers guidance to employers on how to support LGBT+ equality in the workplace.