National

Website aims to help LGBT job seekers find a comfortable workplace

Kyodo

A sexual minorities support group has launched a job hunting website to help students discover which employers are proactive on issues specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff.

Information that the LGBT Shukatsu website offers includes the names of companies that hold recruitment seminars specifically for LGBT applicants and which offer appropriate in-house training. It also has a section in which LGBT workers share their experiences of job hunting and appraise their current workplaces.

The support group, called ReBit, says the jobs market is intimidating for some LGBT students, as they may be unsure which gender to declare when submitting their resumes and whether to wear male or female office dress to an interview. Many wonder to what extent they should disclose their sexuality during the recruiting process.

After they get a job, some suffer from bullying and a general lack of understanding from their coworkers, and wind up quitting.

Late last month, a group of students gathered to discuss their concerns at a seminar hosted by ReBit in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

“I cannot figure out my identity other than being a sexual minority,” one student said.

Another added: “I was worried I may get fired if the company finds out.”

Dentsu Inc. conducted an online survey of 70,000 people in Japan aged between 20 and 59 in April, and found that 7.6 percent identified themselves as a sexual minority.

“The only identity I’d say I have is my sexuality. I cannot see what I want to do,” said a 21-year-old student at a university in Kyoto, who attended the event.

The student was born female but associates with the word “pansexual,” or a person who associates with people of all sexual orientations. The student therefore lacks a sexual identity and struggles with what to say when required to declare it in searching for a job.

“When I asked my teacher whether I should disclose my sexual identity during job hunting, the teacher advised me not to, and it drove me to depression,” the student said, pointing to a lack of a role model for job hunting.

Another participant warned of the risk of being too open.

“I am attracted to people of any gender,” said a woman who declared her sexuality openly when searching for work, and sometimes encountered a negative reaction as a result.

She offered advice for people in a similar situation: “If you get exhausted with discussing LGBT issues, you should prepare something different to talk about so that you don’t have to touch on it,” she said.

ReBit chief Mika Yakushi, 25, is registered as a woman but lives as a man. Yakushi had been worried about getting a job, and found it a revelation to meet some LGBT people who seemed at ease, even joyful in their work.

“If only I had known about this earlier,” Yakushi remembered thinking.

This led him to establish ReBit while he was still a student.

“Many people give up something or suffer because of their sexuality,” Yakushi said. “But sexuality is just a part of yourself, not you as a whole. You shouldn’t be too obsessed with it, but work the way you want to.”

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