LGBTQ+ workers face a substantial pay gap, Glassdoor says

LGBTQ+ employees in the U.S. earn about 16% less than non-LGBTQ+ workers, and transgender workers earn 23% less than non-LGBTQ+ workers, according to Glassdoor data released May 31.

This pay gap is similar to the pay gap recorded between women and men, Glassdoor noted, though it is unadjusted for age and industry.

Diving deeper into industry and age, however, reveals some notable trends. LGBTQ+ workers tend to be disproportionately represented in food service and nonprofit roles, which historically pay less overall. But looking within sectors also reveals some stark differences; LGBTQ+ retail workers have a 17% pay gap, compared to a 5% pay gap in the nonprofit sector.

LGBTQ+ workers skew younger in the data, which likely impacts earnings since they are earlier in their careers, Glassdoor said. While more than a fifth of workers ages 18-24 who left salary reviews on Glassdoor identified themselves as LGBTQ+, less than 10% of workers ages 45-54 identified themselves as such.

And notably, women are more likely to identify as LGBTQ+, “meaning the gender pay gap also disproportionately affects LGBTQ+ workers,” Glassdoor said.

The difficulty in tracking LGBTQ+ worker statistics is that it relies on self-identification, and workers may have reasons to keep such identities private. Many told LinkedIn in a 2021 survey that they worried being open about their identities would cause co-workers to treat them differently. A 2023 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management indicated similar sentiment; 40% of employees surveyed said they had not disclosed their identity at work, and 1 in 5 of those workers said they felt they wouldn’t be promoted if they did disclose.

To be inclusive, employers can empower employee-driven groups, develop a culture of respect and empathy and foster authentic allyship that extends through the whole year, Randstad said in a recent report.

And when it comes to compensation, HR can perform a internal pay equity audit, experts previously told HR Dive. Such efforts can go a long way toward advancing diversity and inclusion goals, they said.