Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling: How LGBTQ+ people can thrive and succeed at work (Paperback)

Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling: How LGBTQ+ people can thrive and succeed at work By Layla McCay Cover Image
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A compelling look at the challenges facing LGBTQ+ professionals as they navigate their careers – with advice from many senior figures who have smashed their own rainbow ceilings.

There are currently only four LGBTQ+ CEOs across all Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies who are out at work, and just 0.8% of Fortune 500 board positions are filled by LGBTQ+ people. This deficit, occurring across sectors and around the world, reveals a diversity gap playing out in today's workplace: LGBTQ+ people are less likely to reach the top jobs. But what is holding LGBTQ+ people back at work – and what can be done?

Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling explores the hidden differences that cause LGBTQ+ people to be underrepresented at the most senior levels of professional life. Combining data with personal insights from over 40 prominent LGBTQ+ trailblazers, from CEOs to Ambassadors, Layla McCay reveals the challenges that LGBTQ+ people commonly encounter as they find their way in work environments, and provides the practical strategies that can help empower LGBTQ+ people to reach their full professional potential.

The book explores how everyone – from boards, CEOs, managers, HR professionals and colleagues, through to LGBTQ+ people navigating their own career paths – can recognize and address the barriers, achieve their career goals, and build a more inclusive workplace where everyone can thrive and succeed.

About the Author

Layla McCay is Director of Policy at the NHS Confederation and Executive Lead of the national Health and Care LGBTQ+ Leaders Network. A psychiatrist and founder of the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health, her co-authored book, Restorative Cities: Urban Design for Mental Health and Wellbeing, was a finalist for the Great Places Book Award. Layla McCay has been recognized on the Outstanding 100 LGBTQ+ Executives Role Model List 2023 as a global role model driving LGBTQ+ inclusion in business. She lives with her wife in London.

Praise For…

“Layla is right that the challenges to opportunity exist disproportionately across minority communities – I am thrilled that she's not only highlighting these disparities for the LGBTQ+ community but is providing insights and solutions to overcome these challenges.” —John Amaechi OBE, author of the New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling leadership book, The Promises of Giants

“This much-needed and engaging book will resonate with LGBTQ+ people on every step of the career ladder and leave everyone who reads it with a little extra knowledge, insight, inspiration and a sense of hope.” —Dame Inga Beale, Former CEO of Lloyds of London

“As CEO of the premier non-profit organization working exclusively on LGBTQ+ workplace equity, inclusion, and belonging, it is such a pleasure to find a book so full of personal insights, research and practical actions on these topics. This book makes it clear how the rainbow ceiling was built, and how to break it down, with anecdotes from people all over the world that make it funny, sad, surprising, and real. Required reading for LGBTQ+ people pursuing their careers as well as for anyone seeking to build a more inclusive workplace.” —Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal

“Employers can ignore the rainbow ceiling or deny its existence altogether as self-identification and representation estimates remain rare. Consequently, LGBTQ+ people are often not part of the decisions that shape their lives. Through fascinating interviews with business, diplomatic, and administrative senior professionals, Layla McCay has pinpointed the subtle mechanisms of exclusion behind this phenomenon and how to mitigate them. Her book honours the experience of a generation of resilient and exemplary LGBTQ+ leaders who often had to overcome significant hurdles and do twice the work for half the recognition. But perhaps more importantly, it provides a guide to overcoming these obstacles for LGBTQ+ people and their employers today. Breaking the rainbow ceiling is crucial in filling the representation gap – Layla McCay's book brings us one step closer to this goal.” —Fabrice Houdart, Founder and Executive Director, Association of LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors

“Coming out is often a challenging and frightening experience. In some jurisdictions, it is still illegal to be openly LGBTQ and in other places, despite no legal restrictions, coming out can expose individuals to harassment, bullying and violence.

Closer to home, although less pronounced and largely less dangerous, discrimination and prejudice is still with us. For many, being openly LGBTQ in the workplace still presents a challenge. The rainbow ceiling loomed large in my professional career and was one of the reasons I remained in the closet for so long. I was outed by a tabloid newspaper in 2007, resigned as CEO of BP, and began to build a new life in the world I had feared since my youth. After the initial pain, I found it to be life-giving. Coming out enabled me to think bigger and aim higher.

Layla McCay's Breaking the Rainbow Ceiling picks up where I left off. Much has changed for the better in the decade since I told my own story in The Glass Closet, but we are still not where we should be. This book is essential reading for those who are building up the courage to bring their authentic self into the workplace, for those who have already taken that leap, and for those who stand ready to support them. No one should be held back on the grounds of their sexual orientation or imprisoned by their own fear. This book is a reminder that the rainbow ceiling can and will be broken.” —Lord Browne of Madingley, Group CEO of BP (1995–2007) and author of The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good Business

“A brilliantly researched book packed full of insight, advice and inspiration for those who want to be able to live, work and succeed as their authentic and fabulous LGBTQ+ selves.” —Suki Sandhu OBE, Founder & CEO of Involve and Audeliss, and author of How To Get Your Act Together: A Judgement-Free Guide to Diversity and Inclusion for Straight White Men

“At last we have a view from the top from LGBTQ+ leaders in business and other sectors. Layla McCay convincingly shows that these pioneers did not have an easy path. But even as the stakes grew higher on the way up, this impressive group of leaders managed to break through the rainbow ceiling. LGBTQ+ readers of this fascinating book will have an easier time on their own journeys thanks to the wonderful advice that McCay has distilled from her research.” —M. V. Lee Badgett, Economist and author of The Economic Case for LGBT Equality: Why Fair and Equal Treatment Benefits Us All

“Layla McCay has deftly brought together clear facts and compelling stories to shine a light on the realities of being LGBTQ+ in today's world. This compulsively readable work celebrates the progress that has been made and illuminates the challenges that still lie ahead. It is an important prompt for questions we all must ask ourselves – whether gay or straight – about our shared commitment to busting through the rainbow ceiling on the way to a more inclusive and compassionate society.” —Marjorie Chorlins, Senior Vice President for Europe at the US Chamber of Commerce

“Enough of talking about inequity! It's time to start doing, to help create change, and in this brilliant, and useful book, Layla McCay gives us a manual of how to create inclusion infrastructures for LGBTQ+ people to thrive and rise to the top. It is time for us, along with help from our allies to break that rainbow ceiling, and to “lift as we climb”. Layla's interviewees come from different professions and from all over the world, and they offer a wealth of perspectives that support her extraordinary data-driven research. For instance, I was fascinated to read about the barriers to LGBTQ+ progression that Layla outlined, like “unmooring”, or simply the fact that so many queer leaders may have been lost due to the AIDS pandemic! I teared up when I read the “advice to my younger self” section and I think that you will too.” —Parmesh Shahani, Head of Godrej DEI Lab, and author of Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in the Indian Workplace

“Profound research, inspiring stories, a clear message: Why are LGBTQ+ people underrepresented at the most senior levels in global workplaces? What can be done to change this – by employers, lawmakers, managers, the queer workforce? And why is this so important – for all of us? Layla McCay has written a very important book, essential for every leader at all levels.” —Jens Schadendorf, Economist and author of GaYme Changer: How the LGBT+ community and their allies are changing the global economy

“An important look at ways to combat the impacts of prejudice in the workplace so that everyone can thrive at work.” —Matthew Todd, author of Straight Jacket: Overcoming Society's Legacy of Gay Shame and previous editor of Attitude magazine

“McCay is spot on. In this new era for LGBTQ+ equality, it's imperative that we continue to break down the structural barriers to LGBTQ+ equality. In our global advocacy work – from developing emerging LGBTQ+ talent to empowering senior LGBTQ+ leaders – Out Leadership has seen time and again that the lift-as-you-climb approach is our best hammer to break the rainbow ceiling.” —Todd Sears, Founder and CEO of Out Leadership

“In the decade since Lord Browne published The Glass Closet it's disheartening to see LGBTQ+ folks on both sides of the Atlantic enjoy fewer protections than they did 10 years ago and still encounter inequalities in the hiring process and in the workplace. Layla's research is therefore both important and timely: more than ever we're relying on corporations to step into issues of social justice, and today's managers need more guidance than ever before. My hope is that this book will help more LGBTQ+ folks rise to positions of leadership, and in turn inspire the next generation.” —James Hudson, British HR executive working in the US for brands including Levi's and Nike

“A powerful, inspiring and critically important read for HR professionals and for LGBTQ+ people developing their careers.” —Lutfur Ali, Senior Policy Advisor (Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Transformation), Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Non-Executive Director, Business Continuity Institute

Product Details
ISBN: 9781399410762
ISBN-10: 1399410768
Publisher: Bloomsbury Business
Publication Date: May 21st, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English