What is the Glass Closet?

Caterina Sullivan
2 min readSep 20, 2018

We’ve all heard of the glass ceiling — the invisible barrier for women and minority groups to receive certain aspects of recognition in the workplace.

So what is the glass closet?

The glass closet is the invisible barrier preventing those identifying as LGBTIQ* from receiving certain aspects of recognition in the workplace or from feeling comfortable in being themselves in the workplace.

While many businesses have gender and diversity policies which promote the acceptance of those identifying as LGBTIQ*, a recent survey of US LGBTIQ* senior executives found that 72% of those surveyed had not come out in the workplace.

With the marriage equality debate hot in the press at the moment, let’s explore how to break down some of these barriers in the workplace.

Never assume

Assuming someone’s sexual identity and / or sexual orientation can be one of the elementary barriers for creating a safe and inclusive workspace. Gender neutral nouns such as ‘partner’ instead of ‘boyfriend’ or ‘wife’ are strongly encouraged.

Be mindful of what questions are asked

Some people who identify as LGBTIQ* are very open to questions about their sexual identity and / or orientation as they want to educate people about the concept, so it is not seen in such a negative light as it currently is by some people. However, others are less open to questions about their sexual identity and / or orientation. “How does it go for your child having two dads?” or “Who is going to have your baby?” are questions which can often make people feel uncomfortable.

Creative a supportive team environment

Employees will feel more comfortable being themselves in a workplace which is supportive and friendly. Creating positive team atmospheres will allow staff members to perform at their best without the stress and pressure of the fear of being judged or disadvantaged based on their sexual identity and / or orientation.

Start at the top

All good leadership starts at the top. The same applies here. If staff see accepting and inclusive behaviour from the senior members of an organisation, it will create a culture for others to follow suit.

LGBTIQ* — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual / transgender, intersex or questioning. Strategic Sustainability Consultants also recognises any other people who find difficulty in articulating their sexuality and sexual orientation by the above parameters in this acronym.

This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.



Caterina Sullivan

Chief Executive | Business Founder | Change Agent | Inspirational Leader | High Achiever | Role Model | Award-Winner