Edited by Adelina M. Broadbridge and Sandra L. Fielden
Chapter 27: Coming out of the closet? The implications of increasing visibility and voice for the career development of LGB employees in UK private sector organisations
This chapter explores the opportunities and barriers to the career development of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees in United Kingdom (UK) private sector organizations. The research took place following the introduction of the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (2003) in the UK. This legislation encouraged UK organizations to add sexual orientation to their diversity policies. The chapter considers how this development has encouraged opportunities to improve LGB visibility and voice and explores the ways in which this has in turn enhanced LGB career development opportunities in UK organizations. It does so by drawing on interviews with 65 LGB private sector employees. There is evidence for optimism as many of the LGB respondents welcomed the increasing visibility of the sexual orientation strand with increasing numbers feeling able to come ‘out’ and ‘be themselves’ at work. This in turn was resulting in increasing opportunities for voice via lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) trade union and company networks and as empowered individuals. However, there was also worrying evidence of an uneven application of diversity policy and practice across organizations. The chapter explores these complexities, concluding that despite progress, LGB employees still recognise barriers to their career development in what are still perceived to be predominantly heteronormative working environments.
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