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Sexual minorities in the workplace: An examination of individual differences that affect responses to workplace heterosexism

Dissertation
Author: Phillip Lipka
Abstract:
Workplace heterosexism has been linked to numerous negative outcomes for gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) employees. While GLB is the term commonly used in the literature, research examining workplace heterosexism often focuses on gay and lesbian (GL) employees. Thus, GL was the term used in the current study. Negative outcomes of workplace heterosexism include concealing one's sexual identity, the use of identity management strategies to keep one's sexual orientation a secret, increased psychological distress, and greater organizational withdrawal. The current study examined self-monitoring, neuroticism, and locus of control as individual difference variables that can affect the relationship between workplace heterosexism and the negative outcomes that are experienced by GL employees and organizations. As hypothesized, results indicated that workplace heterosexism was negatively related to the disclosure of one's sexual identity at work and the use of integrating identity management strategies, as hypothesized. Workplace heterosexism was also positively related to the use of counterfeiting and avoiding identity management strategies, psychological distress, and work and job withdrawal, as hypothesized. Hypotheses regarding the moderating effects of self monitoring, neuroticism, and locus of control on the outcome variables were also tested. Self-monitoring moderated the relationship between workplace heterosexism and work withdrawal; however, the pattern of the interaction was not consistent with the proposed relationship. Additionally, neuroticism moderated the workplace heterosexism-counterfeiting relationship and the workplace heterosexism-job withdrawal relationship, as hypothesized. Finally, consistent with the hypotheses, locus of control moderated the workplace heterosexism-disclosure relationship and the workplace heterosexism-avoiding relationship, as well as the workplace heterosexism-integrating relationship. Thus, locus of control had a consistent moderating effect on the relationship between workplace heterosexism and personal outcomes for sexual minority employees. Theoretical and practical implications of the significant findings are discussed.

v TABLE OF CONTENTS Page TITLE PAGE....................................................................................................................i ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................ii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS..............................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES.........................................................................................................vii LIST OF FIGURES......................................................................................................viii CHAPTER I.INTRODUCTION.........................................................................................1 Work Discrimination...............................................................................3 Minority Stress Theory............................................................................4 Heterosexism as Minority Stress.............................................................5 Workplace Heterosexism.........................................................................8 Stigma Theory..........................................................................................9 Disclosure and Stigmatization...............................................................10 Disclosure at Work................................................................................11 Identity Management.............................................................................13 Psychological Distress...........................................................................16 Organizational Withdrawal....................................................................17 Limitations in the Current State of the Literature..................................18 The Current Study..................................................................................19 Moderating Variables of Interest: Self-Monitoring, Neuroticism, and Locus of Control..................................................21 Hypotheses.............................................................................................28 II.METHOD....................................................................................................32 Participants.............................................................................................32 Materials................................................................................................33 Procedure...............................................................................................40

vi Table of Contents (Continued) Page III.RESULTS....................................................................................................41 Correlational Analyses on Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer Individuals’ Data............................................................41 Initial Analyses......................................................................................44 Control Variables...................................................................................44 Tests of Main Effects.............................................................................47 Tests of Moderating Effects...................................................................49 IV.DISCUSSION..............................................................................................61 Interactions and Practical Implications..................................................62 Limitations and Future Research...........................................................76 APPENDICES...............................................................................................................79 A:Demographics Questionnaire.......................................................................80 B:Outness Inventory........................................................................................83 C:Stress in General Scale.................................................................................84 D:Workplace Heterosexist Experiences Questionnaire...................................85 E:Revised Self-Monitoring Scale....................................................................88 F:Neuroticism Scale........................................................................................90 G:Modified Work Locus of Control Scale.......................................................91 H:Identity Management Strategies Scales.......................................................93 I:Psychiatric Symptom Index.........................................................................96 J:Work Withdrawal Measure..........................................................................98 K:Job Withdrawal Measure...........................................................................100 REFERENCES............................................................................................................129

vii LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1 Descriptive Data, Internal Consistency Reliability of Measures, and Intercorrelations Among Variables..............................101 2 Hierarchical Regression Results for Hypotheses 2a–2g............................104 3 Hierarchical Regression Results for Hypotheses 3a–3g............................110 4 Hierarchical Regression Results for Hypotheses 4a–4g............................116

viii LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page 1 Self-monitoring, neuroticism, and locus of control as hypothesized moderators of workplace heterosexism and disclosure at work, the use of counterfeiting, avoiding, and integrating identity management strategies, psychological distress, and work and job withdrawal.....................................................................................122 2 Moderating Effect of Self-Monitoring on the Relationship Between Workplace Heterosexism and Work Withdrawal..........................................................................123 3.1 Moderating Effect of Neuroticism on the Relationship Between Workplace Heterosexism and the Use of Counterfeiting Identity Management Strategies..............................................................................................124 3.2 Moderating Effect of Neuroticism on the Relationship Between Workplace Heterosexism and Job Withdrawal...........................................................................................125 4.1 Moderating Effect of Locus of Control on the Relationship Between Workplace Heterosexism and Disclosure at Work........................................................................126 4.2 Moderating Effect of Locus of Control on the Relationship Between Workplace Heterosexism and the Use of Avoiding Identity Management Strategies..............................................................................................127 4.3 Moderating Effect of Locus of Control on the Relationship Between Workplace Heterosexism and the Use of Integrating Identity Management Strategies..............................................................................................128

1 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION As of March 2010, 138,905,000 individuals were employed in the United States (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). Based on recent social science research suggesting that 3% of the U.S. population is gay or lesbian (Gates, 2004), it is estimated that 4,167,150 gay and lesbian (GL) individuals are employed in the U.S. workforce. Moreover, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2007) stated that 48.2% of the U.S. population is not covered by a state, county, and/or city nondiscrimination law based on sexual orientation. Therefore, it is estimated that 2,008,566 GL employees are not protected against discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation. Thus, no mandated repercussions exist for these individuals if sexual orientation discrimination is experienced and the only option may be to remain in (and attempt to cope with) the discriminatory work environment. The current study examines this issue further by identifying individual differences that can help sexual minorities cope with such discrimination. Moreover, while discrimination against women and racial minorities in the workplace has been a widely studied topic, less attention has been given to the experiences GL employees. Therefore, the topics investigated in the current study provide a better understanding of the issues faced by sexual minorities in the workplace and expand on the existing literature in a number of ways. In the literature review, concepts and theoretical perspectives concerning discrimination that are applicable to GL employees are described in order to provide a

2 better understanding of how discrimination in the workplace impacts sexual minorities. Especially pertinent to this topic are Minority Stress Theory and Stigma Theory. These are used as the theoretical foundations for the current study. Furthermore, the experiences that are unique to GL employees are discussed and related to these theoretical perspectives in order to demonstrate that being a sexual minority involves issues which are distinct from those faced by other minority groups. More specifically, workplace heterosexism and the decision to disclose one’s sexual identity at work are explored as unique challenges faced by GL employees. After these distinctive experiences of GL employees are explored, a discussion of outcomes of workplace heterosexism, such as not disclosing one’s sexual identity, is provided. The use of identity management strategies by sexual minorities and the issues of psychological distress and organizational withdrawal are also reviewed and treated as significant personal and organizational outcomes for both the GL employee and the organization. This is followed by a discussion of the current state of the literature concerning sexual minorities in the workplace. After providing this theoretical framework and overview of the heterosexism- outcome relationships that will be investigated in the current study, moderators of the relationship between workplace heterosexism and the outcome variables of interest are examined. More specifically, self-monitoring, neuroticism, and locus of control are introduced as individual difference variables that can affect the negative outcomes experienced by GL employees as a result of workplace heterosexism. Hypotheses are developed regarding the moderating effects of each of these three variables on the

3 outcome variables of interest in order to provide a better understanding of individual differences that influence sexual minorities’ experiences in the workplace. Work Discrimination Minorities face many forms of discrimination due to their group status and research suggests that these issues generalize to sexual minorities. One such form is work discrimination, which Chung (2001) defined as “unfair and negative treatment of workers or job applicants based on personal attributes that are irrelevant to job performance” (p. 34). Work discrimination comes in many forms and it is important to examine the aspects of work discrimination that are most related to the experiences of GL employees. Much of the research on this topic focuses on two distinct forms of work discrimination: formal and interpersonal discrimination (Hebl, Foster, Mannix, & Dovidio, 2002). These concepts have also been referred to as overt and subtle discrimination, respectively (Dovidio &Gaertner, 2000). Formal discrimination includes discrimination in salary decisions, job assignments (Chung, 2001), hiring, access, resource distribution, and promotions, and is illegal in many states (Hebl et al., 2002). Interpersonal discrimination, on the other hand, is more subtle, involves interpersonal dynamics in the work atmosphere, and is legal because no federal laws exist against the more subtle forms of interpersonal discrimination. It includes both verbal and nonverbal harassment, as well as prejudice, hostility, and lack of respect (Chung, 2001; Hebl et al., 2002). Many theories have been proposed as to why minorities experience work discrimination, but there is a lack of theory concerning discrimination against GL

4 employees. However, because some of the same dynamics that characterize reactions to gender, ethnic, and racial minorities may generalize to reactions to GL employees, it is worthwhile to review this related research. Much of the literature is based on related theoretical perspectives concerning discrimination and diversity (Ragins & Cornwell, 2001). Two such theoretical perspectives are Minority Stress Theory and Stigma Theory. Minority Stress Theory is examined first and related to the issue of heterosexism. The way in which this distinctive form of prejudice impacts sexual minorities is also explored. This is followed by a description of Stigma Theory and a discussion of how it relates to the disclosure of one’s sexual orientation in the workplace, which also creates a unique challenge for sexual minorities. Finally, psychological distress and organizational withdrawal are examined as common negative outcomes experienced by sexual minorities as a result of workplace heterosexism. Minority Stress Theory Minority Stress Theory stemmed from Social Stress Theory, which states that personal events and conditions in the social environment can lead to physical, mental, or emotional pressure, strain, or tension in an individual (Meyer, 1995).All of these adverse effects are believed to cause stress for an individual. The concept of minority stress was developed to emphasize the unique stress that individuals from stigmatized social groups encounter as a result of their minority social status (Meyer, 2003). An apt description of minority stress is provided by Brooks (1981), who defined it as “a state intervening between the sequential antecedent stressors of culturally sanctioned, categorically ascribed inferior status, resultant prejudice and discrimination, the impact of these forces

5 on the cognitive structure of the individual, and consequent readjustment or adaptational failure” (p. 84). Similarly, Smith and Ingram (2004) state that minority stress results from the strain of having values, needs, and experiences that are at odds with the majority group. Meyer (2003) identified three basic assumptions concerning minority stress. First, minority stress is unique to stigmatized individuals because they experience stressors from being a minority in addition to the general stressors that are experienced by all individuals. Therefore, stigmatized individuals must exert more effort to adapt to social conditions as compared to individuals who are not stigmatized. Second, minority stress is chronic because it “is related to relatively stable underlying social and cultural structures” (Meyer, 2003, p. 676). Lastly, minority stress is socially-based because it results from social processes, institutions, and structures that are outside of the stigmatized individual’s control. Many researchers have related Minority Stress Theory to the experiences of sexual minorities in general, and in the workplace, with the majority of this research focusing on the issue of heterosexism. It is important to examine the relationship between minority stress and heterosexism in order to understand the distinctive experiences of sexual minorities and to also gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues that GL employees encounter in the workplace. Heterosexism as Minority Stress Sexual minorities can be distinguished from other minority groups because, unlike members of ethnic and racial minority groups, GL individuals spend most of their

6 lives relatively isolated from members of their cultural group (Waldo, 1999). Moreover, sexual minorities must endure experiences of heterosexism, which serves as a form of minority stress unique to GL individuals. Heterosexism is defined as “an ideological system that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes, any nonheterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship or community” (Herek, 1992, p. 89). According to this definition, heterosexism includes both implicit and explicit forms of discrimination. Waldo (1999) explains how heterosexism may include implicit events such as inquiring as to why an individual is not married to explicit malicious antigay jokes and bashings. These forms of heterosexism were labeled indirect and direct heterosexism, respectively. Regardless of the type of heterosexism, each is stressful for GL individuals because they arise “from a culture that considers heterosexuality the normal and only acceptable sexual orientation” (Waldo, 1999, p. 218). These are common experiences for GL employees who choose to reveal their minority status. For example, in a stratified sample of 662 sexual minorities, 20% reported criminal, personal, or property violations linked to their sexual preference, 50% reported verbal harassment, and over 1 in 10 reported employment or housing discrimination (Herek, 2009). Thus, heterosexism has the potential to have powerful consequences for GL individuals. In discussions of this construct, it is important to distinguish heterosexism from homophobia. Lance (2002) notes that heterosexism is a “discriminatory assumption that people are or should be attracted to people of the other gender,” whereas homophobia

7 consists of “irrational fears and negative attitudes of lesbians and gay males” (p. 410). While at its most extreme expression, heterosexism may contain some elements of homophobia, the former construct also encompasses less extreme beliefs, such as the idea that a heterosexual lifestyle is the only normal path for individuals. For example, in one study of attitudes toward homosexuality, reactions including disgust, “don’t ask/don’t tell,” and ostracism/fear were identified (Embrick, Walther, & Wickens, 2007). Thus, although the two constructs overlap, heterosexism has unique components which are related to minority stress. Meyer (1995) described three distinct components of heterosexism that are related to stress among GL individuals. These components are internalized homophobia, perceived stigma, and prejudiced events. Internalized homophobia describes the negative views of homosexuality that become internalized by GL individuals. Perceived stigma refers to the belief that an individual will be treated unfairly due to his or her sexual orientation. Prejudiced events are discriminatory, biased, and violent actions GL individuals experience. All three of these phenomena are the manifestation of heterosexism’s effects on GL individuals. Whereas internalized homophobia and perceived stigma are embodied within GL individuals, prejudiced events are direct or indirect behavioral displays of heterosexism by others. In summary, Minority Stress Theory provides a useful general framework for examining the potential stressors experienced by GL employees. Meyer’s research was significant because it identified different facets of heterosexism and served to further define the construct of heterosexism. This work also provided evidence that heterosexism

8 may lead to negative consequences for GL individuals, and it is likely that these extend to the workplace environment. In the next segment, the research on the impact of workplace heterosexism on GL employees is explored. Workplace Heterosexism While heterosexism serves as a form of minority stress for sexual minorities in everyday life and in the workplace, research concerning heterosexism in the workplace is relatively new and not extensive. However, the research that has been conducted demonstrates that heterosexism has many adverse effects on GL employees.For example, Waldo (1999) examined interpersonal heterosexism in the workplace and found that fear of discrimination was associated with higher levels of distress and health-related problems in sexual minority employees, as well as decreased satisfaction with many aspects of their work. More specifically, sexual minorities who experienced heterosexism in the workplace had stronger intentions to quit, higher levels of absenteeism, and other work withdrawal behaviors. Waldo concluded that the findings were “consistent with the minority stress theory in that GLB employees working in a majority context experience distress when their minority status is emphasized” (p. 229). This finding also emphasizes that the personal stress experienced by sexual minority employees may impact organizational outcomes, such as the loss of valued employees. Furthermore, Ragins and Cornwell (2001) found that formal heterosexism, such as discriminatory policies and hiring and promotions procedures, was related to lower levels of a number of attitudinal variables including job satisfaction, organizational commitment, organization-based self-esteem, satisfaction with career opportunities for

9 promotion, and career commitment, as well as higher turnover intentions for sexual minorities. Moreover, GL employees who perceived more heterosexism in the workplace had more negative job and career attitudes than those who perceived less workplace heterosexism. Thus, heterosexism may create a hostile environment for GL employees and may also create negative outcomes for the organization. In summary, research associated with the minority stress perspective suggests that there are clear, definable stressors in the environment that may, in turn, relate to increased stress reactions and related withdrawal behaviors. A related theory, Stigma Theory, provides an additional perspective on the experiences of sexual minority employees in organizations. Stigma Theory extends beyond Minority Stress Theory in that it examines ways in which individuals cope with the stressors they may experience at work or in other social settings. Thus, it provides a useful framework for examining individual differences that may affect the relationship between workplace heterosexism and personal and organizational outcomes associated with GL employees. Stigma Theory Goffman (1963) defined stigma as “an attribute that makes one different from others in the category of persons available for him to be, and of a less desirable kind…He is thus reduced in our minds from a whole and usual person to a tainted, discounted one” (p. 3). Stigma Theory states that stigmatized groups are often discredited and viewed as inferior by the majority group. Stigmatized individuals may experience anxiety concerning social situations because they feel others do not accept them or consider them equal and, thus, learn to expect negative regard from the dominant group (Meyer, 2003).

10 Moreover, stigmatized individuals may try to conceal their stigma or pass as members of the majority group in order to avoid negative consequences. For this reason, Stigma Theory has been used to explore personal outcomes that influence a GL individual’s well-being (Ragins & Cornwell, 2001). In the next segment, two categories of personal outcomes directly related to sexual identity are examined: the decision to disclose one’s sexual identity and the use of identity management strategies. Disclosure and Stigmatization Sexual orientation is not a readily observable characteristic, which makes it distinguishable from other stigmas that have been examined in the discrimination literature. Whereas gender and racial minority groups’ stigmas are readily apparent, GL individuals have a choice of whether or not to disclose their sexual orientation (Ragins & Cornwell, 2001). As noted by researchers, the invisibility of sexual orientation makes the dynamics involved in prejudice against group members distinct from gender or racial discrimination (Clair, Beatty, & MacLean, 2005). According to Clair et al. (2005), sexual minority employees may engage in a type of cost-benefit analysis when deciding whether to disclose, with the organizational environment playing a central role in this decision. In fact, disclosing one’s sexual identity involves much fear and emotional distress, which is why it is one of the most difficult issues that sexual minorities face (Griffith & Hebl, 2002).GL employees may use cues regarding support at work for disclosure as an important factor in their decision to reveal their sexual identity. This, along with the extent of workplace heterosexism, may explain why the majority of GL employees are not “out” at work (Ragins, 2008).

11 Furthermore, since sexual orientation is not readily observable, GL employees may avoid stigmatization by choosing to not disclose their sexual identity at work (Badgett, 1996). As noted in prior research, the fact that minority status is “invisible” for GL employees may lead these individuals to shift their focus to information management, or how much of one’s sexual identity they reveal (Beatty & Kirby, 2006). Disclosure at Work Work is treated as a unique context for disclosure by most researchers (Croteau, Anderson, & VanderWal, 2008). This stems from findings indicating that the disclosure of one’s sexual identity at work can have both positive and negative outcomes for sexual minorities. For example, Rostosky and Riggle (2002) reported that disclosure at work can enhance worker satisfaction, productivity, and loyalty and that the visibility of sexual minority employees and their partners “increases the likelihood of effective advocacy for equitable workplace policies, a safe work environment, and effective support networks in the workplace” (p. 411). Disclosure may also be viewed as an important source of self- verification and may have positive effects on one’s identity and self-esteem (Ragins, 2008). In general, open disclosure is assumed to be universally preferred for self-esteem and self-integrity reasons, but must be balanced with concerns regarding the effects of stigmatization (Croteau et al., 2008). For example, disclosure may increase the likelihood of discrimination, job loss, verbal attacks, or physical threats for sexual minorities (Clair et al., 2005). While it may be the case that the openness of the organizational environment plays a role in determining the impact of disclosure on personal stress, research suggests

12 that disclosure often results in negative consequences for the individual. In fact, Woods (1994) reported that, in an interview study of 70 gay men, 97% said that their sexual orientation had cost them a raise, a promotion, or a relationship with a potential mentor. However, GL individuals who choose to hide their sexual identities report lower levels of psychological well-being and life satisfaction, as well as increased health risks (Griffith & Hebl, 2002), and expend energy that detracts from their productivity and overall career development (Rostosky & Riggle, 2002). Thus, the relationship between disclosure and the outcome for the individual may depend on the outcome measure of interest. It appears to have job-related costs (e.g., not receiving a promotion) but personally-related benefits (e.g., increased psychological well-being). Fear of discrimination and stigma effects based on sexual orientation can decrease an individual’s likelihood of disclosing their sexual orientation at work, while beliefs that the organization is supportive have a positive influence on disclosure (Ragins, 2008). For example, individuals may indirectly experience discrimination in a hostile work environment if no one knows or suspects that they are gay (Ragins & Cornwell, 2001). Indeed, Driscoll, Kelley, and Fassinger (1996) found that gay employees were more likely to disclose their sexual identities in workplaces that were viewed as supportive of sexual minorities. Similarly, Day and Schoenrade (2000) found that GL employees were more satisfied, more affectively committed, and more likely to disclose their sexual preference when they were in organizations with anti-discrimination policies encompassing sexual preference. Top managerial support for these policies also predicted these positive outcomes. Additionally, Ragins and Cornwell (2001) claimed support for

13 Stigma Theory because they found that GL employees were less likely to disclose their sexual orientation in workplaces in which they experienced or observed discrimination based on sexual orientation. In sum, this suggests that the organizational environment can have a significant impact on disclosure. Fear of discrimination because of sexual orientation not only affects GL individuals' decisions to disclose their sexual identity at work, but may also make them feel as though they need to actively conceal it.As Burn, Kadlec, and Rexer (2006) explain, “The looming expectation of social rejection and antigay harassment may explain why so many GLB persons feel compelled to keep their sexuality secret or even feign heterosexuality” (p. 25). The prominence of the issue of disclosure in the experiences of sexual minority employees suggests that there is a need to better understand the role of this variable in these employees’ well-being. A second, distinct response to heterosexism is the use of identity management strategies which conceal sexual identity. These are ways in which a GL employee may manage perceptions of his or her sexuality in order to minimize the negative impact of heterosexism on their personal well-being or career. In the next segment, these strategies and their use by sexual minorities are explored. Identity Management The decision of how to manage one’s sexual identity is a major issue in the lives of sexual minorities (Button, 2001).Chung (2001) explains that sexual minorities deal with potential discrimination and stigma through identity management. Identity management refers to strategies and techniques individuals use in face-to-face

14 interactions in order to manage, control, and manipulate the information others receive about them (Milman & Rabow, 2006). However, similar to not disclosing one’s sexual identity, the use of identity management strategies that serve to conceal an individual’s sexual orientation requires an extra expenditure of energy, which can be stressful for sexual minorities (Meyer, 2003). Based on an in-depth qualitative study, Woods (1994) identified three identity management strategies that gay males utilize in the workplace: counterfeiting, avoiding, and integrating. Counterfeiting, or “playing it straight,” is an active strategy that involves the construction and assertion of a false heterosexual identity. Examples of counterfeiting include a gay man using female pronouns to describe a relationship, even though the relationship is with another man, or the complete fabrication of a heterosexual relationship. Rather than falsely constructing a heterosexual identity, individuals utilizing the avoiding strategy choose not to reveal any information regarding sexual relationships and, thus, appear asexual. Examples of avoiding include verbally evading the issue when it comes up in conversations or excluding oneself from situations in which these types of questions may come up. Finally, integrating is characterized as the honest expression of one’s sexual identity. In other words, individuals using an integrating strategy are open about their sexuality and make efforts to deal with consequences that may result from their openness. While most examples of an integrating strategy involve an overt expression of one’s sexuality, individuals can also reveal their sexuality in a more indirect fashion, such as allowing coworkers to find a picture of the individual with their same-sex partner. It is important to note that, while Woods’ study included only gay

15 males, these three identity management strategies have been found to generalize to a lesbian sample (Button, 2004). Many GL employees may feel the need to utilize the identity management strategies of counterfeiting and avoiding, which are associated with being less open about one’s sexuality, at work because legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation still persists in most parts of the United States (Tejeda, 2006). While legal protection is seen as a factor that can encourage more positive organizational climates for sexual minority employees, a fear of the effects of disclosing one’s sexual identity may inhibit individuals from filing claims, even in states that offer such protection (Clair et al., 2005; Colvin, 2009). Thus, it is certainly not the case that legal protection alone can protect individuals from the consequences of disclosure. While many organizations have enacted non-discrimination policies in order to affirm sexual diversity and show that they are accepting and supportive of sexual minority employees, there is currently no federal legislation against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and only 21 states and the District of Columbia have enacted such laws (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2009). Similarly, even though laws prohibiting sexual preference discrimination have been passed in the European Union, sexual minority employees covered by such legislation may feel that these laws have not been adequately publicized or enforced, although they do acknowledge benefits of the legal protection (Colgan, Wright, Creegan, & McKearney, 2009). Thus, in most jurisdictions, there is a lack of any legal recourse for sexual minority employees who face

16 discrimination and, although legal protection has benefits, it needs to be publicized and enforced to have maximum effectiveness (Button, 2001). This can lead to increased psychological distress for sexual minorities and may also result in organizational withdrawal behaviors for GL individuals attempting to cope with heterosexist work environments. Thus, heterosexism may be associated with identity management strategies regarding disclosure and increased stress for sexual minorities. In addition, the negative aspects of heterosexist environments can lead to outcomes that impact individuals’ well-being (e.g., psychological distress) as well as the organization (e.g., organizational withdrawal). Both of these responses to workplace heterosexism are discussed below. Psychological Distress Ilfeld (1976) conceptualized psychological distress as a combination of symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, and cognitive disturbance. As noted, GL individuals may cope with workplace heterosexism by not disclosing their sexual identity and concealing it through the use counterfeiting and avoiding identity management strategies. This vigilance requires a considerable expenditure of energy (Meyer, 1995), which may result in stress for sexual minorities, a proposition supported by Hobfoll’s (1989) Conservation of Resources (COR) model of stress. Hobfoll’s model proposes that individuals attempt to acquire and maintain that which is valuable to them(resources) and that stress results when those resources are threatened, lost, or not able to be recuperated after use. Thus, it is not surprising that previous research has linked workplace heterosexism to increased

Full document contains 143 pages
Abstract: Workplace heterosexism has been linked to numerous negative outcomes for gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) employees. While GLB is the term commonly used in the literature, research examining workplace heterosexism often focuses on gay and lesbian (GL) employees. Thus, GL was the term used in the current study. Negative outcomes of workplace heterosexism include concealing one's sexual identity, the use of identity management strategies to keep one's sexual orientation a secret, increased psychological distress, and greater organizational withdrawal. The current study examined self-monitoring, neuroticism, and locus of control as individual difference variables that can affect the relationship between workplace heterosexism and the negative outcomes that are experienced by GL employees and organizations. As hypothesized, results indicated that workplace heterosexism was negatively related to the disclosure of one's sexual identity at work and the use of integrating identity management strategies, as hypothesized. Workplace heterosexism was also positively related to the use of counterfeiting and avoiding identity management strategies, psychological distress, and work and job withdrawal, as hypothesized. Hypotheses regarding the moderating effects of self monitoring, neuroticism, and locus of control on the outcome variables were also tested. Self-monitoring moderated the relationship between workplace heterosexism and work withdrawal; however, the pattern of the interaction was not consistent with the proposed relationship. Additionally, neuroticism moderated the workplace heterosexism-counterfeiting relationship and the workplace heterosexism-job withdrawal relationship, as hypothesized. Finally, consistent with the hypotheses, locus of control moderated the workplace heterosexism-disclosure relationship and the workplace heterosexism-avoiding relationship, as well as the workplace heterosexism-integrating relationship. Thus, locus of control had a consistent moderating effect on the relationship between workplace heterosexism and personal outcomes for sexual minority employees. Theoretical and practical implications of the significant findings are discussed.