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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Monday, February 21, 2011

Can heterosexism harm organizations? Predicting the perceived organizational citizenship behaviors of gay and lesbian employees

Summary and commentary by: Ian Mondrow

Employees who are open about their sexual identity have an increased chance of confronting workplace discrimination. Some instances can include: glass ceiling effect, loss of credibility and less positive regard from their peers. An organizational culture with a strong emphasis on heterosexism (the lack of concern for members of the GLBT community) has previously been found to predict the self-disclosure of sexual minority employees. Previous research has found that the stereotype of being gay instills a higher sense of self-focus, or monitoring one's actions. Stigmatization salience is defined as an individual's self-focus to the membership of a culturally stigmatized group (such as sexual orientation).

OCBs are positive work behaviors that increase the performance of an organization. Helping behaviors and organizational compliance are two OCBs that will be utilized in this study. Help behavior is the voluntary effort to help others. Organizational compliance is the following of organization policy.

Data was collected from an online national study of gay and lesbian individuals. Individuals that identified themselves as bisexual were excluded from the sample as their experiences may differ from gays and lesbians. A total of 606 employed individuals were included in the sample. The sample was split into two groups: 311 participants were in the testing group and 295 participants were placed in the validation sample.  Four vignettes from the Organizational Tolerance for Heterosexism (Waldo, 1999) was used to assess organizational climate for each participant. Workplace outness was measured using three items from Mohr and Fassinger's (2000) outness indicator. Stigmatization silence was measured by six items created by the authors of this article. Finally, seven items were utilized from the sub-scales of Smith et al. (1983).

A goodness of fit model (correlation) was utilized for the analysis. It was found that heterosexism within an organization's climate did impact one's ability to be out. Stigmatization salience was negatively related to both organizational climate and outness. Finally, workplace behaviors were positively predicted of being out. Findings were verified with similar results from the validation sample.

**Correlation statistics to be posted later today**

To put it shortly, the ability to be out and open has a positive impact on performance. A workplace culture that heterosexist focused is more likely to increase stigmatization salience and hinder one's ability to be out.

The study clearly demonstrates the toxicity of a heterosexist environment. Gay and lesbian individuals are continually monitoring their behavior and weary of any indicators that they may demonstrate. The truth is that organizations should embrace the differences between every individual. Since diversity increases innovation, what benefit does a heterosexist culture provide? Basically it is merely encouraging gender norms for both men and women, regardless of one's sexuality. Therefore, one could be heterosexual but still be cautious of their behaviors as they do not want their coworkers to think they are gay. Therefore, a heterosexist environment is not only harmful to gay and lesbian employees but any individual that is a member of the organization.

Source: Brenner, B.R., Lyons, H.Z. Fassinger, R.E. (2010). Can heterosexism harm organizations? Predicting the perceived organizational citizenship behaviors of gay and lesbian employees. The Career Development Quarterly. 58, 321 - 335.

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