Non-heterosexual disclosure at the workplace: insights from an empirical study

Rikke Karen Voergård-Olesen, Pernille Eskerod

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    Many organizations state that they would like to develop a more inclusive culture when it comes to sexual orientation. In order to do this insight into non-heterosexual behaviors and considerations concerning disclosure is a prerequisite. As sexual orientation generally is invisible each person has a strategic choice concerning (non-)disclosure. Based on an empirical study, we contribute to the understanding of non-heterosexuals’ disclosure strategies and experiences at the workplace. Individual, semi-structured interviews on personal experiences and thoughts were conducted. The interviewees were eight non-heterosexual women, 34-44 years old, working in Denmark, open (to some degree) about their sexual orientation, and representing more industries and educational backgrounds.
    Even though the informants claimed openness, significant differences concerning disclosure were identified - across informants and across situations in the working life, e.g. at the job-interview, dealing with customers, at lunch breaks, at workplace-related parties. The empirical study shows that disclosure is not a matter of ‘once and for all’. Non-heterosexuals are on a continuous basis confronted with choice situations. Perceptions of cultural norms, especially heterosexual-normativity, but also norms for private life chats á là how did you spend the weekend? were highly influential on behaviors. In addition, perceptions of professional identity norms influenced: My colleagues know but I find it difficult to tell my client. Further, the empirical study shows that disclosure takes place in a relationship and it relates to the non-heterosexual and the hetero-sexual’s possibilities for positioning themselves e.g. as professional employee and unprejudiced colleague.
    Publikationsdatoaug. 2013
    Antal sider12
    StatusUdgivet - aug. 2013


    • Workplace culture
    • workplace environment