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Coming out of the Closet

Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research

Edited By Natalie T.J. Tindall and Richard D. Waters

Despite representing significant portions of the advertising, marketing, and public relations work force, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community has largely been ignored by scholarly research in strategic communications. With the exception of case studies that document strategies that can be used to secure the LGBT consumer dollar, little has been done to understand the LGBT community’s experiences with strategic communications efforts. This edited volume fills this gap by sharing research on the impact and interaction of campaigns and programming from advertising, marketing, and public relations on internal (e.g., practitioners and employees) and external (e.g., consumers, activists) stakeholders from the LGBT community. Several chapters in this volume highlight a significant change in the focus of strategic communications that recognizes the long-term benefits of having legitimate partnerships; others, however, counter this optimistic trend by discussing the continued struggles of practitioners working in strategic communication and the LGBT community at large.
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Chapter 1: Harassment in the Workplace: Violence, Ambivalence, and Derision Experienced by LGBT Strategic Communicators

Extract

Richard D. Waters

Workplace harassment has been conceptualized as verbal and nonverbal aggression at work, designed to attack individuals personally, ostracize them socially, and cause humiliation through psychological, and possibly physical, abuse (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2003). These interactions include personal attacks, social ostracism, and other painful messages ranging from inappropriate comments to physical threats of violence. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2011) reported that it received 32,053 claims of general workplace harassment and 11,717 claims of sexual harassment. Of these claims, investigations by the Commission found that 12,653 and 5,324, respectively, were legitimate and were subject to mediation or civic procedures.

Workplace harassment does not only affect the individuals involved; it also has a significant impact on businesses. The United States National Institute of Occupational Safety Health estimates that harassment results in organizational losses of $9 billion annually due to employee turnover and avoidance of work by employees. Additionally, $3 billion is lost to declining productivity by employees who are unfocused at work because of varying degrees of harassment (Douglas, 2012). Harassment is not restricted to the United States, as the Australian Productivity Commission estimates that it costs their national economy more than $15 billion annually (Berkovic, 2010), and workplace harassment costs the United Kingdom more than $6 billion pounds annually (Know Bull!, 2012).

Employers should strive to provide a hospitable working environment for everyone. While there is no moral obligation to do so, the benefit to the bottom line can strengthen...

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