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Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace

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Scholars have proposed that interpersonal workplace discrimination toward members of oppressed social groups has become covert and subtle rather than overt Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace explicit and that such experiences lead to negative outcomes for targets. The present study examined this proposition by examining experiences and consequences of workplace incivility—a seemingly harmless form of interpersonal maltreatment—based on gender, sexual orientation, and their intersection.

Results showed that sexual minority women reported the highest levels of workplace incivility. Findings also revealed that women reported lower job satisfaction than men and that heterosexuals reported higher job stress and lower job identity centrality than sexual minorities with higher levels of incivility. Thus, sexual minority status buffered the negative effects of incivility for sexual minorities.

Introduction

These findings point to the resiliency of sexual minorities in the face of interpersonal stressors at work. Organizations have become more inclusive and tolerant of diversity Thomas; Mor Barak,including enacting formal policies against workplace discrimination. However, research suggests that discrimination in organizations remains pervasive and that policies are often unenforced Dipboye Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace Halverson, ; Goldman et al.

For example, the U. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 88, discrimination charges during the fiscal year with an average of 90, yearly charges over the last decade. Discrimination may endure in organizations because it is more subtle than it was thirty or more years ago Deitch et al. Moreover, covert forms of discrimination allow employees to continue to engage in discriminatory behavior while maintaining an unbiased image and evading punishment Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace, ; Sue, One form of subtle discrimination, workplace incivility, had begun to receive considerable attention.

Andersson and Pearson defined workplace incivility as rude and discourteous behavior in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect. Examples of incivility in work contexts include interruptions, excluding someone from professional camaraderie, and addressing a coworker inappropriately.

A majority of workers cite incivility as being both common and a major issue in their work lives Pearson et al. Moreover, research shows that such behavior can interfere with the occupational well-being of employees who are targeted Pearson et al. There remain critical gaps in the workplace incivility literature, however.

For example, little is known about who is most at risk for being targeted with incivility at work. Women and sexual minorities have been historically Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace from power and status in society DiTomaso et al. We propose that these individuals may be frequent targets of incivility as well.

We further propose that women and sexual minorities are the most harmed when targeted with workplace incivility because of their minority status Meyer, In the coming sections, we build arguments for how and why status should affect experiences and outcomes of incivility for women and sexual minorities in work organizations.

Measuring experiences of LGBT microaggressions...

In contrast to formal discrimination, which is characterized by overtly discriminatory words or deeds, interpersonal Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace is conveyed through subtle actions but may still represent more formal negative attitudes Hebl et al.

Cortina argues that targets of such behavior, namely women Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace racial minorities, are chosen in a systematic Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace than unbiased manner and may be especially likely targets for workplace incivility because of their social group membership. Because uncivil interpersonal behaviors are seemingly harmless, perpetrators can mask their discriminatory attitudes toward women and people of color behind these acts and leave their personal image Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace. Supporting selective incivility theory Cortina,research shows that women and racial minorities are especially likely to experience uncivil treatment at work Cortina et al.

Experiences of workplace incivility related to other status characteristics, such as sexual orientation, has received less attention. Scholars Waldo, ; Ragins and Wiethoff, ; Sue, have argued that the workplace discrimination suffered by sexual minorities is also likely to be subtle and covert due to the nature of heterosexism and homophobia, which is often implicit.

However, we could not identify even one study examining experiences of workplace incivility for sexual minorities. Research in other areas e. For example, Woodford et al. In the microaggressions i. An additional critical omission from the workplace incivility literature is the Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace to which multiple low-status group memberships intersect to affect experiences of incivility at work.

That is, little attention has been given to how experiences of uncivil treatment at work vary as a function of the intersection of different social categories. The one exception is the work of Cortina et al. Research in the microaggressions literature also suggests that social identities intersect e. Previous research lends support to the notion that low-status individuals are targeted more often with workplace incivility than majority-group members and that those holding multiple low-status identities are especially at risk.

Corroborating and extending this past research, the present study examines the extent to which women and sexual minorities experience incivility at work, both as independent and interactive categories. Workplace incivility has been conceptualized as a type of chronic stressor Cortina et al. Chronic stressors Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace from acute stressors in that they occur over an extended period of time and have ambiguous onsets and offsets Hepburn et al.

These daily stressors, while low impact in the short term, accumulate to create deleterious work environments that can lead Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace well-being detriments for targeted individuals.

In fact, they can be even more damaging to well-being than more dramatic life events Kanner et al. Consistent with theory, research has documented the negative well-being consequences of workplace incivility for those who are targeted, including increased job stress Lim and Cortina, ; Kern and Grandey, and reduced job satisfaction Cortina et al. However, which individuals experience the worst outcomes as a result of incivility has yet to be fully investigated.

We propose that the effects of incivility may not be equal across targets and that low-status individuals may be the most harmed by uncivil treatment. We advance previous research by examining the extent to which individuals holding low-status social identities are differentially negatively affected by Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace incivility and assess a novel outcome of incivility: Minority stress theory is especially useful for understanding why low-status individuals might be likely to experience worse outcomes than high-status individuals when exposed to workplace incivility.

Brooks developed the concept of minority stress from her study of lesbian women, and Meyerwho developed minority stress theory, studied the experiences of gay men. Therefore, these concepts are especially relevant to the mistreatment experiences and outcomes of sexual minorities. In line with minority stress theory Meyer,research shows that even seemingly minor acts of workplace discrimination can result in acute negative reactions for individuals who are members of marginalized minority groups.

For example, research shows that women report more work withdrawal compared to men when they work in contexts tolerant of workplace incivility Loi et al.

Using an experimental paradigm, Woodzicka and LaFrance found that women showed worse performance during a job interview when the interviewer engaged in subtle incidents of harassment compared to women who did not have a harassing interviewer. Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace also shows that perceived discrimination relates to Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace psychological distress and job dissatisfaction for White and Black female professional employees; interestingly, the relationship between discrimination and distress were especially pronounced for White women, suggesting the intersection of social identities affects outcomes associated with subtle workplace mistreatment Maddox, Research also shows that workplace stressors based on sexual orientation e.

Waldo found that experiences of workplace heterosexist discrimination were associated with lowered psychological and physical health and with heightened job withdrawal and job dissatisfaction among Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace minorities.

Using an intersectional lens, Rabelo and Cortina found that concomitant experiences of workplace gender and sexual orientation based harassment were associated with greater job burnout and lower job satisfaction in a sample of sexual minority employees in higher education. Perceived workplace sex and sexual orientation discrimination has also been linked to work withdrawal and, in turn, lateness, absenteeism, and intentions to quit Volpone and Avery, The purpose of the present study is to examine the extent to which demographic characteristics associated with societal power and status make employees vulnerable to experiencing incivility at work.

Specifically, we investigate whether employees in two low-status social groups—women and sexual minorities—report more frequent uncivil workplace experiences and show more pronounced negative outcomes with higher levels of incivility compared to their higher-status counterparts—males and heterosexuals. Importantly, we also investigate whether employees who hold multiple low-status identities are most targeted with and harmed by incivility at work.

First, we extend the literature on workplace incivility by examining Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace dimensions of status: Second, we investigate these dimensions not only independently, but also at their intersection.

Third, we seek to address the fundamental question of whether low-status individuals, especially those who belong to multiple minority groups, experience a greater frequency of uncivil work behaviors compared to members of one or more dominant social groups. In light of the call for and importance of real-life implications for research on discrimination e. Based on the past research and theory in this area, we hypothesize the following:. Women report experiencing more workplace incivility compared to men a and sexual minorities report experiencing more workplace incivility compared to heterosexuals b.

Gender and sexual orientation interact to predict experiences of incivility such that sexual minority women report the highest levels of incivility. Women report worse outcomes i. Gender and sexual orientation Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace to predict the severity of outcomes related to workplace incivility such that sexual minority women report the worst outcomes with higher levels of incivility.

Participants for this study included a nationwide sample of academic law professors. Participants were asked to indicate their sexual orientation using the following choices based on Kinsey et al.

Completion of the survey served as consent to participate in the survey. Nine-hundred of Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace invitation e-mails were rejected due to e-mail filters or inaccurate e-mail addresses; thus, the total potential pool of participants was 8, The measures for the present study i. Survey construction focused on minimizing response bias and utilizing valid and reliable measures.

All items were scored such that higher values reflected higher levels of the underlying construct. This scale measures the degree to which respondents perceived being a target of rude and disrespectful behavior at work.

Instructions asked participants to indicate how often a coworker had instigated any of nine behaviors e. A complete account of the development and validation of the WIS using a large employee sample is available in Cortina et al. Internal reliability for this measure in the present study was 0. Job stress was measured with an abbreviated six-item version of Stanton et al. Items ask whether each of a list of adjectives e.

The third type of workplace...

A complete account of the extensive development and validation of this measure with three diverse samples of workers is available in Stanton et al. Respondents indicated on a scale ranging from 1 strongly disagree to 7 strongly agree the extent to which each of three Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace characterized their work: A full description of the development and validation of this measure is available in Cammann et al.

Recent meta-analytic analyses also indicate that the MOAQ is a reliable and construct-valid measure of job satisfaction Bowling and Hammond, Job identity centrality was measured with a revised Sexual orientation and gender identity microaggressions in the workplace of the importance subscale of the Collective Self-Esteem Scale Luhtanen and Crocker, Luhtanen and Crocker describe the full development and validation of this measure, demonstrating its strong psychometric properties in three separate studies.

We included four demographic variables as covariates in the analyses to help isolate the effects of the variables of interest. These control variables included organizational tenure, years teaching law, department size, and age. Workplace incivility was positively correlated with job stress and negatively correlated with job satisfaction and job identity centrality. In addition, the covariates organizational tenure, years teaching, department size, and age were correlated with incivility and at least one of the outcomes, corroborating our decision to include them as covariates in the analyses.

Hypothesis 1 predicted that women would report experiencing more workplace incivility compared to men a and that sexual minorities would report experiencing more workplace incivility compared to heterosexuals b. Hypothesis 2 predicted that gender and sexual orientation would interact to predict experiences of incivility such that sexual minority women would report the highest levels of incivility. Gender and sexual orientation were the predictor variables and workplace incivility was the outcome variable in the analyses.

Thus, Hypothesis 1a was fully supported and Hypothesis 1b was not supported.

Interaction of gender and sexual orientation on workplace incivility. Hypothesis 3 predicted that women would report worse outcomes i.

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