Gender and Diversity
For the first article Pride and Prejudice: Employment Discrimination against Openly Gay Men in the United States by András Tilcsik, is one of the first large studies to study the discrimination against openly gay men in the U.S. They talked about stereotyping and hiring discrimination with gay men and what they must go through. They noted that employers who were looking for applicants with stereotypical male heterosexual traits were more likely to discriminate against gay applicants than employers who do not emphasize such traits.
Another emphasis of this article is how gay job seekers adapt to the reality of discrimination and how it might affect them. Another article, Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace: A Systematic Review of Literature by Emir Ozeren focuses on employers can easily fire or not hire LGBTQ employees in work contexts in which specific non-discriminatory legislation related to sexual orientation does not exist (Ozeren, 2014). The article also focused on the actual “coming out” at work and how that effected employees and employers.
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The overall perceptions by the participants in the study noted that homosexual men were the most likely to be fired once people knew what they identified as. At the same time, other authors noted that workers who identified as “out” in the workplace had higher organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and lower conflict. Also, companies that have certain policies to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation are more likely to encourage LGBTQ employees to come out in the workplace. Social institutions, legal frameworks, and cultural norms that were identified as the major pillars of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. Simple changes are insufficient, an overall transformation is required to achieve sexual orientation equality in the workplace.
Another article, “Lay (Mis)Perceptions of Sexual Harassment toward Transgender, Lesbian, and Gay Employees” by Sheila Brassel, Isis Settles, and Nicole Buchanan, focused on if power, prejudice, and sexual attraction were underlying factors towards harassment of LGBTQ individuals in the workplace. They also found that sexual harassment of transgender’s was less acceptable than harassment toward lesbian, gay, and cisgender heterosexual targets to the extent that it was viewed as motivated more by power and prejudice (Brassel, Settles, & Buchanan, 2019).
Employees and managers, witness or are aware of sexual harassment and their perceptions of these events can influence their responses to the targeted employees and the implementations of policies against sexual harassment. Furthermore, “Workplace Discrimination: Sexual Orientation” by Bruce Mirken, focuses on different forms of discrimination against gays and lesbians and that it can be subtle as well. For example, subtle in the sense of promotions that go to less qualified employees or constant insults and antigay jokes that create a hostile work environment.
The author also focuses on the issue of gender identity and that transgendered people tend to face more discrimination than gay and lesbians because of their appearance and their mannerisms and appearance don’t match their gender. In addition, “Is Coming Out Always a ‘‘Good Thing’’? Exploring the Relations of Autonomy Support, Outness, and Wellness for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals” by Nicole Legate, Richard M. Ryan, & Netta Weinstein focused on coming out and concealing their gender identity. Concealment of LGBTQ identity can cause lower relationship satisfaction, fewer job promotions, and negative job attitudes. Coming out is not all or none, some LGBTQ individuals often decide how “out” they want to be with different people.
Both interviews and interviewees had similar experiences and stories but also had many different experiences as well. For my first interview it was with a woman who identifies as lesbian and she also considers herself more masculine. At one of her jobs, she was fired because her boss saw a picture on her cellphone of her and her girlfriend kissing. She stated, “I did not lose my job because I was incompetent or unprofessional, I worked hard and always did my best when I was there.
All of that went down the drain when my boss found out I was lesbian. In one day, I went from being a favored employee to being jobless.” The woman I interviewed is very strong willed, so she tried to fight this and call upper management, but they did nothing about it and disregarded her and what happened. In addition, she also noted that she has also worked at a few places that were the complete opposite, when they found out she was lesbian they were not shocked or disturbed by it, they told her they were there if anything ever happened and needed to be addressed.
At one of those jobs, she was faced with more subtle discrimination, it was mainly two people who were making anti lesbian jokes and creating a very hostile work environment. She went to her boss first and told him what happened, and he took immediate action, he went to the two people and asked them about the situation and he asked other employees as well because this usually happened in the break room when other people were around.
Furthermore, many people spoke up and told him what these two had done and he took immediate action and listened to this woman and told her that there is zero tolerance for things like that and that it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. In most of these places she felt as though she could not be open about her sexual identity because of previous experiences. She felt as though she had to choose between being visible and being safe at work and choose between being employed or being open in her identity.
For my second interview, I interviewed a man who identifies as gay and considers himself feminine and masculine. He said he has had more positive experiences rather than negative experiences with his sexual orientation and work place experiences. In his previous job he had to work with customers and had to deal with discrimination from them, derogatory terms and jokes and stares because of the way he presents himself.
The people he worked with were not very supportive and there was even an instance of sexual harassment he had gone through at this job. The instance happened with another manager, he would touch him inappropriately and told him that he would not get a promotion unless he slept with him. So he went to another manager confidentially and explained the situation and what happened, it went under investigation but he ended up being told that there was not enough evidence to accuse this other manager and the manager ended up getting no consequences and still kept his job, so the man I interviewed ended up having to leave the company because he did not feel safe or comfortable being there anymore.
He told me this was probably the worst thing that he has experienced while working and being open about his sexual identity. For the other places he’s worked his experiences have been very different. At one place, when they found out his sexual orientation, they were very supportive all the way from upper management and down.
They never treated him any differently and he did not have to worry about his safety at work or being discriminated against for his sexual orientation. Another barrier he has had to face is the interview process itself and being a candidate for possible jobs. He has had to deal with being discriminated against his appearance and having to deal with stereotypes of being emotional, weak, etc… because he is more “feminine.”
Both people I interviewed had to deal with discrimination solely based on their sexual orientation and “coming out” at work. They both faced subtle discrimination as well, derogatory terms and jokes as well as having to work in a hostile work environment. They both have had to deal with working at companies where their voices were not heard and have had managers that silence them and do not stand up for them.
Furthermore, my first interviewee has never experienced sexual assault or harassment while working, which she stated she thinks about every day and is grateful that she hasn’t but also disturbed that she even has to think about something like that. While the other person I interviewed sadly has had to deal with sexual assault on top of being told he was “exaggerating the situation” and that there wasn’t enough evidence, even though all the proof was there. He also had to deal with discrimination based on his appearance and stereotypes because he is more “feminine.” With my first interview she expressed that she has not had to deal with a lot of discrimination on her appearance and more so just her sexual identity.
The readings I researched connected a lot with both interviews I had; a lot of the information correlated with the experiences they have shared. There was also some disconnect with the readings and what was shared in the interviews. While these are only two people and two experiences, I would not say that those experiences represent the whole population but a lot of it and what the LGBTQ community must face and the workplace discrimination they deal with. Sexual orientation discrimination has been part of the workplace in America for decades.
While federal, state and local laws, as well as increased social awareness have improved the situation dramatically, many people who are not heterosexual still face obstacles at work related to being gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc… Workplace discrimination manifests in a variety of forms and all around the country people are afraid of employers knowing about their sexual orientation because of harassment and fear of being fired. We have come a long way regarding discrimination at work but still have a long way to go. It is important to be aware that while everyone’s experiences are different, many people are still being discriminated and harassed in the workplace because of their sexual orientation.
Furthermore, my interview with the man who identified as gay faced discrimination and sexual assault when they found out his sexual orientation and had to deal with negative and positive effects as well. One of the articles focused on employment discrimination against openly gay men and a lot of what they talked about correlated with the interviewee’s experiences. The article mentions “Barriers gay men may encounter during the hiring process because employers more readily disqualify openly gay applicants than equally qualified heterosexual applicants.”
The article also found that “Gay job applicants were approximately 40% less likely to be offered a job interview than their heterosexual counterparts” (Tilcsik, 2016). There were a few times where the guy I interviewed felt like he got passed over on jobs solely based off his appearance, he was very qualified for the position and had previous experience and still got passed over. In addition, the article also talked about employers who sought out applicants with stereotypically male heterosexual traits were much more likely to discriminate against gay applicants than employers who did not emphasize the importance of such traits.
This suggests that employers’ stereotypes of gay men are inconsistent with the image of an assertive, aggressive, and decisive employee. It seems, therefore, that the discrimination documented in this study is partly rooted in specific stereotypes and cannot be completely reduced to a general antipathy against gay employees (Tilcsik, 2016).
Another article that resonated with the interview with the openly gay man was, Workplace Discrimination: Sexual Orientation. This article focused a lot of subtle workplace discrimination and the effect it can have on people who identify as gay, lesbian, etc… The author talks about work being a cental part of everyone’s lives and harassment can leave employees feeling alienated from their co-workers and this can create a lot of emotional turmoil (Mirken, 2019).
Another thing that my interviewee had to face was biases and stereotypes because of his appearance and this article focused on that as well. The article mentioned that employees may experience discrimination because supervisors and co-workers believe they are gay without even knowing (Mirken, 2019). The interviewee had to deal with that a few times, people always assumed he was gay without him even telling them what his sexual orientation was, so he did not even have a chance to conceal it even if he wanted to.
For the interview with the woman who identified as lesbian, the article Is Coming Out Always a ‘‘Good Thing’’? Exploring the Relations of Autonomy Support, Outness, and Wellness for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Individuals described opposed some of her experiences, which was an interesting view on the topic. They talked about “coming out” and that it can be associated with mental health benefits and positive effects (Legate, Ryan, & Weinstein 2016).
The woman I interviewed did not experience this, she mentioned that at most of her jobs when she did tell people her sexual orientation or they found out, it caused a lot of negative mental health and even more stress and job security. In addition, that could also be because most of her experiences have been negative, but it does not make her experiences any less valid. They noted that the findings supported the value of coming out but only conditionally, as people who disclosed more tended to experience greater wellness only in a supportive atmosphere, “The data showed that disclosing in controlling social contexts was not associated with the positive emotional outcomes that are anticipated as benefits of coming out” (Legate, Ryan, & Weinstein 2016).
Furthermore, an article that did correlate to her experiences was, Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace: A Systematic Review of Literature. The article talks about companies that implement certain policies to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation are more likely to encourage the degree to which LGBTQ employees will come out at work. This was definitely the case for the woman I interviewed, at one of her jobs when an incident happened, they took immediate action and made sure to take care of the situation and that made her feel a lot more comfortable about “coming out.” Also, having the policies the company did it made it easier for other employees to speak up and not worry about backlash or getting fired.
There are still a lot of barriers and discrimination that gays, lesbians, transgendered, etc… face, especially in the workplace. Here are just a few facts that put it into perspective, “15 percent to 43 percent of gay and transgender workers have experienced some form of discrimination on the job. 8 percent to 17 percent of gay and transgender workers report being passed over for a job or fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 10 percent to 28 percent received a negative performance evaluation or were passed over for a promotion because they were gay or transgender” (Burns, & Krehely 2016).
They also suffer from socioeconomic inequalities because of discrimination in the workplace. Which then causes job instability and unemployment and poverty rates (Burns, & Krehely 2016). Workplace discrimination related to sexual orientation can have many forms. Using derogatory terms and threating language, which creates a hostile work environment. In addition, slurs and comments about their sexual orientation and their gender expression. They also deal with sexual harassment and inappropriate touching which is often dismissed and ignored.