Most Americans don’t care about coworkers’ sexuality and gender expression

Graph plot
Those 75 and up are the most accepting of LGBT coworkers

A new study says that a majority of Americans (55 percent) have no preferences about with whom they work when it comes to sexuality and gender expression. Bospar, a boutique PR firm teamed up with Propeller Insights to conduct the study. They asked 1,000 American adults with whom they preferred to work.

The study was somewhat surprising:

Here’s the breakdown representative of the entire country:

  • 55% – No preference
  • 31.6% – Straight women
  • 31.1% – Straight men
  • 9.8% – Gay men
  • 8.0% – Lesbian women
  • 4.7% – Transgender men
  • 4.6% – Transgender women

“This is an amazing milestone,” said Curtis Sparrer, a principal of Bospar. “I remember coworkers citing my sexuality as a reason why I shouldn’t be hired or promoted. To see a majority of Americans now shrug and basically say ‘so what’ to their coworkers’ sexuality or gender expression is extraordinarily satisfying. But before we get smug and say, ‘You’ve come a long way, baby,’ we have to admit that these numbers show there is a lot of progress yet to be made.”

Baby Boomers were the least accepting

Bospar and Propeller drilled down by gender, political party, race and age and discovered a trend that bucked conventional wisdom. Older Americans were, the more accepting group for sexuality and gender expression. A majority of 75-year-olds and older (60 percent) were the age demographic most likely to not care about the sexuality or gender expression of their colleagues. That was followed by Generation X (35 to 54-years-old) at 59.3 percent. Next came Millennials (18 to 34-years-old) at 56.7 percent. Baby Boomers were the least accepting, with 47.9 percent saying they had no preference.

While most Americans said they had no preference on who they worked with, they did show a preference. Most preferred working with people just like them. For example, while 54.3 percent of heterosexuals said they had no preference regarding with whom they worked, their next favorite group to work with was heterosexual men and women. There was one exception to cohorts favoring their peers, and that came with men: while 47.3 percent of men said they had no preference with whom they worked, their second preference was straight women (39.6 percent), followed by straight men (38.2 percent), lesbians (10.3 percent), gay men (9.3 percent), transgender women (5.3 percent), and transgender men (4.8 percent).

Latinos were most likely not to have a preference

On sexuality and gender expression as well as other criteria Democrats were the most likely not to have a preference with whom they worked. The results showed 61.9 percent versus Independents (59.4 percent) or Republicans (41 percent). The higher the level of education completed, the more accepting people were. That was also true with high income earners. A majority of people making over $200,000 per year (66.7 percent) said that sexual orientation or gender expression was not important to them. Latinos were most likely not to have a preference, (63.3 percent), followed by Caucasians (54.9 percent) and African-Americans (48.1 percent). Americans with children in the house were slightly more likely to be more accepting of LGBT coworkers (58.5 percent versus 53.5 percent).

“It’s exciting to see the growth in tolerance within the workplace,” said Gabrielle Ferdman-Ayala, Principal of Propeller Insights. “While the overall numbers by political party point to expected differences between liberals and conservatives, there is hope in youth. Just under 50 percent of Millennial Republicans say they have no preference about with whom they work, while their political elders collectively fall below 40 percent.”

Specific survey results: 

Work Preference by Gender:

Work Preference by Age Group:

Work Preference by Political Affiliation:

Work Preference by Sexual Orientation:

Work Preference by Ethnicity:

Work Preference by Marital Status:

Work Preference by Level of Education:

Work Preference by Household Income:

Work Preference by Children in HH:

Propeller Insights is a research firm based in Los Angeles.