STAYING IN THE CLOSET VERSUS COMING OUT: RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN COMMUNICATION ABOUT SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND WORK ATTITUDES

Authors


  • This study was funded by a grant from the SHRM Foundation. The interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations, however, are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent those of the Foundation. A previous version of this paper was presented to the Association on Employment Practices and Principles.

and requests for reprints should be addressed to Nancy Day, HW Bloch School, UMKC, 5110 Cherry, Kansas City, MO 64110

Abstract

The threat of job discrimination causes many gay men and lesbians to keep their sexual orientation secret at work. This study investigates the relationships between extent of communication about sexual orientation and critical work attitudes. We hypothesize that “closeted” gay workers will experience more negative work attitudes than will either “openly” gay or heterosexual workers. The sample consisted of 900 lesbian, gay, and heterosexual workers identified from the mailing list of a civil rights group focused on homosexual rights. The hypothesis is supported for affective organizational commitment, job satisfaction, belief in support of top management, role ambiguity, role conflict, and conflict between work and home issues, but not for continuance commitment. Although causal relationships are not specified, we conclude that work attitude levels of gay and lesbian workers are predicted in part by the amount of communication about their sexual orientation in which these workers engage.

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