skip to primary navigation skip to content

Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people

The best advice is to be true to yourself, but this doesn't necessarily mean that the right thing to do is to come out. It is possible to be 'authentically' not out in certain situations, and it's always up to you how much of yourself you are comfortable sharing. But it's important to consider that not disclosing your sexuality may also entail certain risks. For instance, research shows that trying to keep work and private life absolutely separate can take a physical and emotional toll because eventually it gets exhausting pretending to be what you're not.

For a personal view on issues around coming out in the workplace, you might be interested in this interview with Lord Browne (Guardian, May 2014), the former CEO of BP who was outed by the press in 2007.

Disclosing sexual orientation during the application process

At no point during an application process do you have to disclose your sexual orientation, nor should you expect to be asked about it (unless in an equal opportunity monitoring form, which is not used in selecting candidates and, in any case, returned on a voluntary basis).

However, it's worth considering whether there are ways in which your sexuality could be helpful to you in pitching yourself to a prospective employer. For example, having been the LGBT Officer in your college probably involved organisational skills, teamwork, leadership, responsibility, and sensitivity all qualities which employers tend to look for. And coming out to family and friends will very likely have needed, amongst other things, empathy and willingness to take a risk.

When it comes to interviews or assessment centres, it's important to decide what you're comfortable with. This isn't simply a question of whether to discuss your sexual orientation; it can also be about how you behave and what image of yourself you want to project. In other words, it's important to be mindful of how you will feel if you go into an interview attempting to police your speech and behaviour. What should you wear? How should you greet your interviewers? What's the best way to sit? What kind of body language is appropriate? To be sure, these are questions which any candidate will be asking, but it adds significant stress to an already stressful situation if you're distracted by second-guessing what an interviewer might assume about your sexual orientation.