Sunday, August 22, 2010

Can Heterosexism Harm Organizations? Predicting the Perceived Organizational Citizenship Behaviors of Gay and Lesbian Employees – by Bradley R. Brenner – June 1, 2010 - The Career Development Quarterly

Being out in the workplace is a complicated proposition for men and women who identify as gay or lesbian. These workers routinely make decisions about the personal costs and benefits of revealing their sexual orientation identity to their supervisors/superiors, coworkers, subordinates, and clients. Disclosure of one's same-sex attraction may bring increased psychological well-being and less discordance between vocational and avocational life spheres; however, the risks of being out, or "outness," in the workplace are increased levels of workplace discrimination and stress, such as the loss of advancement opportunities; diminished credibility; and less positive regard by coworkers (see Chung, 1995; Croteau, Anderson, Distefano, & Kampa- Kokesch, 2000; Croteau, Bieschke, Fassinger, & Manning, 2008; Waldo, 1999)…

The purpose of the current study was to explore the relationships among perceptions of organizational climate for heterosexism, level of workplace outness, stigmatization salience, and performance of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs; Smith, Organ, & Near, 1983). OCBs are extra- role prosocial behaviors performed by employees in the workplace (e.g., helping a coworker who is behind on his or her workload), which are theoretically and empirically related to organizational success (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, & Bachrach, 2000). We propose a theoretical model that attempts to explain variance in performance of OCBs (see Figure 1).

Organizational Climate for Heterosexism, Workplace Outness, and Stigmatization Salience

Most theories of identity development posit that the process of coming out is a complex series of lifelong cognitive, affective, and behavioral changes (Reynolds 8c Hanjorgiris, 2000), with different degrees of disclosure of one's sexual orientation identity across many life domains, including the workplace domain (Mohr & Fassinger, 2000). For lesbians and gay men, the organizational climate for heterosexism holds atypical importance. It signals to them, implicitly or explicitly, whether their work environment is one in which they can allow for the possibility of being exposed and comfortable in their sexual minority status (Croteau et al., 2008; Fassinger, 2000). Generally, studies have supported the notion that an organization's climate for heterosexism is related to levels of sexual minority employees' self-disclosure (e.g., Griffith & Hebl, 2002; Ragins & Cor'nwell, 2001; Waldo, 1999). Waldo (1999), for example, found that greater heterosexism in an organization was related to the reduced likelihood that sexual minority employees would disclose their sexual orientation.

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