Healthy minds for all

Getting a Career Start for LGBTQ+ Folks


If you're just starting out in your career, the way you get your first opportunity and begin to develop professional relationships, hone your skills, and maintain the decades-long highs and lows pose certain challenges for the LGBTQ+ community. There are a number of considerations, including where your skills and interests align, your educational background, industry and role focus, location and building a personal life that affords work/life balance, and so many more factors.

For LGBTQ+ folks, these considerations are often compounded by finding a queer community in and out of the workplace; we must utilize the importance of choosing an employer that supports diversity and inclusion for a safe work environment where queer folks and all employees are encouraged to thrive. But once you land that first job, it's a joyous moment, one that you'll remember for the rest of your life.

Fortunately, McDonald's is a brand that has worked tirelessly over the years to create a workplace environment that values diversity and inclusion. It's not just a statement on their website supported by pictures of diverse people – McDonald's has actively participated in developing programs that support LGBTQ+ folks, cultivates their talents and offers opportunity for career development and advancement.

In fact, McDonald's has played such a pivotal role in helping young career professionals launch their careers that a study showed that one in eight Americans has had the experience of working at McDonald's. To commemorate this incredible fact, "McDonald's celebrates both former and current crew members who make up this diverse community with the [previous] launch of its '1 in 8' initiative," according to a post on the McDonald's website. "Members of the 1 in 8 will have access to unique programming, like opportunities to attend exclusive events, mentorships with notable alums who've gone on to make an impact in their respective fields, reunions with former team members and more."

Check out this quick guideline of considerations for LGBTQ+ folks to find the right starter position – whether it's with McDonald's or another company – to feel supported and have access to opportunities for growth and career advancement:

Diversity counts. When you are searching for a position, visit the company's website and check out their diversity and inclusion page to understand how they nurture LGBTQ+ folks in the work environment. But don't just look at the words on the page – check for concrete examples of the company working to make a diverse and inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ crew members. For example, McDonald's implements employee feedback surveys and follows up with corresponding action plans, demonstrating their efforts to listen to their crew members.
Company programs for career development. Many companies encourage their employees to join extracurricular organizations and networks to build professional relationships and foster growth opportunities, but lack a clear path or guidance to facilitate employees getting involved. Look for companies that have internal networks and organizations that support your needs as an LGBTQ+ employee and find a professional community of support. Since 2005, McDonald's put in place its own company Pride Network, "an employee business network dedicated to making McDonald's better by leveraging the talent and experiences of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender employees," according to a post on McDonald's LinkedIn. "Pride [Network] gives LGBTQ+ employees a chance to connect across the system with colleagues and mentors who want to foster their contributions and talents."
Mentorship is key. Mentorship in the workplace is instrumental in long term career growth and success. During the job hunt and interview process, ask about what kind of mentorship opportunities there are to learn and grow. A company that values mentorship and facilitates its practice for their employees will respond in kind and point you toward resources within the company to ensure you're paired with the right mentor. Beyond Pride Network, McDonald's also collaborates with organizations that foster community engagement for LGBTQ+ folks in the workplace and understand the vital importance of mentorship. One such organization McDonald's partners with, Out & Equal, fights for workplaces of equality and belonging for LGBTQ+ employees. "2024 begins with Mentoring Month – a month dedicated to elevating awareness around the value of... the development of workplace cultures rich with talent development and collaboration efforts such as coaching, mentoring, sponsorship and allyship," says out and proud Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal. "When they [LGBTQ+ employees] work in inclusive environments they produce, on average, more positive business outcomes than workplaces that do not or have not prioritized diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Essentially, when you show up for your LGBTQ+ employees and the community, customers will show up for you."

When you're starting out in your career as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, know that there are plenty of companies doing the work to foster acceptance and belonging. Companies like McDonald's professionally develop diverse crew members through a culture of inclusion and belonging, and put in place practical mentorship programs and organizations for long-term career growth for LGBTQ+ folks.

Queer individuals are stronger together, and it's important to pass on to younger LGBTQ+ folks who are just starting out in their careers with mentorship and advice to ensure our community thrives. And McDonald's is a company that can potentially be the starting place because of its inclusive culture and business practices.

by Roger Porter

This story is part of our special report: "McDonald's Unity in Diversity and Mentally Strong Editorial Series". Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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