White Papers / 26 May 2023 2 min

The three barriers to progression: LGBTQ+ edition

A report on the barriers preventing gender equality for the LGBTQ+ community – and what organisations can do to support them.

Download the report


The Three Barriers refers to the Societal, Organisational and Personal forces that can stand in the way of gender equality.

To date, our focus at Shape Talent has been on understanding the career barriers faced by cis women at various intersections, as detailed in our comprehensive Shape Talent Three Barriers ModelTM. Increasingly it became apparent to us in our work that a number of these barriers also applied to the LGBTQ+ community, across different gender identities. We wanted to understand more comprehensively the extent that these barriers overlap, and what organisations and allies can do to help dismantle these barriers.

In this report we present the findings of an extensive literature review of over 150 studies conducted by scholar Dr Ciarán McFadden. The report provides a detailed explanation of the LGBTQ+ barriers that research has identified, highlighting how Shape Talent’s three major barriers – social, organisational, and personal – interact to limit the opportunities and progression of LGBTQ+ employees and jobseekers.

In doing so, we hope to present a base upon which organisations and policy-makers can build meaningful policy, practice and interventions to improve the experiences of LGBTQ+ people around the world.


About the author

Dr Ciarán McFadden is a Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management at the University of Stirling. His teaching, research, praxis, and consultancy work centres on workplace equality, equity, diversity and inclusion. His PhD focused on the career and workplace experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers in the Republic of Ireland. His current research explores the workplace experiences of trans workers in the UK, hiring discrimination against trans job applicants, diversity resistance, and neurodiversity in the workplace.