Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research
Chapter 2: Invisible in a Visible Profession: The Social Construction of Workplace Identity and Roles Among Lesbian and Bisexual Public Relations Professionals
Natalie T. J. Tindall
Although many U.S. workplaces have incorporated inclusionary policies, such as domestic partner benefits, employee-affinity groups, and nondiscrimination policies, much still remains to be done. Because federal civil rights laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, do not include fair employment practices for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, discrimination against LGBT employees continues to exist in the workplace (Beatty & Kirby, 2006). For example, 39% of LGBT employees reported some workplace harassment, and nearly 20% of LGBT employees reported encountering the “lavender ceiling,” barriers for promotion because of their sexual orientation (Lambda Legal & Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, 2006).
Public relations may attract LGBT professionals who may encounter racial discrimination, heterosexism, and sexism. Not knowing their experiences, barriers, and opportunities in organizational life limits the field and hinders theory development, because sexual orientation is a dimension of nonobservable diversity and performance. Yet, little is known about how lesbian and bisexual women navigate their professional, workplace, and personal identities as public relations practitioners. The paucity of material on LGBT public relations practitioners is challenging to scholars wishing to study this area. Thus, this research is a starting point for others desiring to know how practitioners’ lived experiences inform their work experiences. This study addresses the call for more research on practitioners of diverse backgrounds (see, for example, B.-L. Sha & Ford, 2007), and fills a void in public relations scholarship about the intersection of multiple socially...
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