Doctor of Philosophy
Sydney Business School
Smith, Ian, The Australian Corporate Closet, why it’s still so full!, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong, 2015. https://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/4563
Research into discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and identity is becoming increasingly relevant in the workplace. In many nations gay rights have progressed to be in the forefront of the political and social arena and organisations are now turning their focus towards optimising the benefits of increasing workplace diversity. Still, discrimination in the form of heterosexism of GLBT employees continues to be a problem. Heterosexism is defined as a socio-political system that rejects, defames, and stigmatises any non-heterosexual type of behaviour, association, or community, with the continued promotion of a heterosexual lifestyle and concomitant subordination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender ones. Although a number of studies have begun to address this issue, large gaps remain in the literature. The aim of this study was to design a model to better understand the antecedents and outcomes of workplace heterosexist discrimination. Participants from multiple organisations from all states across Australia completed an online questionnaire regarding their experiences in the workplace to assess heterosexist harassment, in relation to organisational support and their concealment and disclosure in the workplace. Using a structural equation modelling framework the relationship between these variables was used to predict the well-being of employees in the Australian labour market. Well-being was measured in the form of psychological well-being, job satisfaction, satisfaction with life and mental health. The study indicated that disclosure and concealment of sexual orientation in the Australian workplace are not significantly affected by direct and indirect heterosexism. The study indicates significantly that organisational support plays a large role in influencing the type of heterosexism, which is present in the Australian workplace. The study indicated that when organisational support for GLBT employees is promoted in the form of policies and activities endorsing these policies, direct heterosexist behaviours decrease but indirect heterosexist behaviours increase. This suggests that employees engage in more underhanded/indirect ways of discriminating GLBT employees when organisations support for GLBT employees is present. This relationship was completely mediated by direct and indirect heterosexism. The study indicated that there were no differences between gay men and lesbians, providing evidence in support for the assumptions of minority stress theory specifically in relation to direct/indirect heterosexism. Implications of the study are that GLBT Australian employees have significant poor well-being due to the presence of discrimination in the workplace in the form of indirect heterosexism.