Sexual Orientation Discrimination Essay

Running Head: DISCRIMINATION HR Management Issue – Sexual Orientation Discrimination Table of Contents Introduction ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Sexual Orientation Discrimination Definition ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Explanation of Topic ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Background of Issue ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Challenges this issue Presents Workplace Discrimination ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Recommended Organizational Response ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Projection about Future ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Interview with Michael ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Embracing Differences ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Conclusion ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 References ……………………………………… . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Introduction About seven years ago I attended a twelve week training session for child care center directors sponsored by 4C’s Community Coordinated Child Care of Milwaukee. This twelve week Center Director’s class focused on enhancement of leadership, staff development, diversity in the workplace, team building, and communicating effectively. The class participants in the class were from various child care centers throughout Wisconsin. During a class discussion a participant asked the instructor about handling an employee who was gay and wanted to wear makeup and women’s clothing to work.

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Their main concern was the impression it would give the parents and the children at the center. Many participated in the discussion explain how they would react to the situation. Some stating they would have never hired him in the first place while others gave personal views how homosexuality was wrong. The instructor explained to the class about discrimination and suggested she view their policy regarding dress code for the child care center. If there isn’t a specific dress code outline in the policy it was possible to add a section relating to dress codes and distribute to all employees.

After the instructor’s comments, a young lady began to speak and voiced her opinion about the discussion. She thanked the instructor for the way she handled the discussion and politely stated that she is a lesbian. I can remember almost everyone’s mouth dropped open and hung in awe. She continued stating that she felt offended by all the comments made in the discussion and even though everyone has their personal opinions sometimes it’s important to understand who’s in the audience before you partake in any discussion that you don’t have real knowledge of the lifestyle.

She mentioned that she and others like her don’t talk about heterosexuals for their lifestyle therefore she would ask that the class get and understanding before judging anyone. At the end of the conversation many felt ashamed and embarrassed because their attitude toward homosexuality which was strictly based on their opinion or personal preference. Not everyone agrees with this lifestyle; however it is important to keep opinions to ourselves so that we don’t offend nor discriminate against other because of their lifestyle, color, race, gender, religion, sex or any other thing that distinguish them from others.

Unfortunately, sexual orientation discrimination is a serious issue today. Many people are treated different when they choose to be open about their sexual orientation or if someone assumes they know what ones sexual orientation is. This paper will discuss sexual orientation discrimination as a major issue in Human Resource Management. Information will be shared giving a background of the issue, key concepts, challenges the issues present for the organization, recommended organizational response and a projection about the future. Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Everyone agrees that workplace discrimination has no place in the modern business world. But not everyone understands the laws that protect employees against discrimination. In this case, what you don’t know can hurt you, especially if an aggrieved employee files a discrimination claim. Definition According to an article published by Workplace Fairness, a non-profit organization that provides information and education on employee rights, sexual orientation discrimination means treating someone differently solely because of his or her sexual orientation whether it be homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual.

This discrimination may occur because of a perception of someone whether the perception is right or wrong. Someone who is discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation may also be discriminated against or harassed on the basis of sex, gender identity, disability, such as actual or perceived HIV status, and/or marital status. This is very important to Human Resource Professionals because they are the ones that make sure organization objectives are being met, and policies are being followed.

It is the Human Resource professionals that deal with staffing, compensation, safety and health, training and development as well as employee and labor relations issues. Therefore if any situations in the workplace occur relating to discrimination or harassment, including recruitment and interviewing the employee can talk to their company’s HR personnel. If a person has questions concerning health insurance for partners, they can talk to HR personnel as well as any other benefit questions.

Another concern of the HR personnel would be employees experiencing workplace violence due to their sexual orientation and complaints. and training staff to understand diversitiy and issues surrounding it The 1991 Act combined elements from two different civil rights acts of the past: the Civil Rights Act of 1866, better known by the number assigned to it in the codification of federal laws as “Section 1981”, and the employment-related provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, generally referred to as “Title VII”, its location within the Act.

The two statutes, passed nearly a century apart, approached the issue of employment discrimination very differently: Section 1981 prohibited only discrimination based on race or color, while Title VII also prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, and national origin. Section 1981, which had lain dormant and unenforced for a century after its passage, llowed plaintiffs to seek compensatory damages and trial by jury; Title VII, passed in the 1960s when it was assumed that Southern juries could not render a fair verdict, allowed only trial by the court and provided for only traditional equitable remedies: backpay, reinstatement and injunctions against future acts of discrimination. By the time the 1991 Act was passed both allowed for an award of attorneys fees.

There are several myths and facts that play a huge part in cultural homophobia, for example: • Homosexuality is abnormal and sick, truth is according to the American Psychological Association, “It is no more abnormal or sick to be homosexual than to be left handed. ” Homophobia, not homosexuality, is what needs to be cured • Loving people of the same sex is immoral (sinful), but research shows many religious denominations do not believe this.

What is universally understood is that intolerance and hatred is wrong • Gay men are child molesters and recruit children into their life-style. Fact: By far, the majority of child molesters are heterosexual. There are no laws keeping heterosexuals away from children • Bisexuals, lesbians and gays could change if they really wanted to; however, most studies indicate that those who are highly motivated to change their sexual preference may change their behavior, but not their underlying desire (orientation).

In fact, it is often societal homophobia that forces people to attempt change. Therefore, energy should go into dismantling homophobia so that people will feel comfortable with their sexual orientation whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. (Clay, 2007) Workplace Homophobia Homophobia is also a problem that affects the workplace in a negative way. Homophobia in the workplace comes in many forms.

For instance: • Hiding one’s sexual orientation and/or pretending to be straight for fear of unequal treatment or harassment • Harassment in the form of jokes and innuendos, homophobic comments and threats • Fear of reporting harassment and of not being taken seriously; being accused of over-sensitivity, of lacking a sense of humour, or of “bringing it on themselves” • Not having access to spousal entitlements in areas like parenting leave, relocation allowances or superannuation   Here is some interesting information that was researched about sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. 52. 8% of gay and lesbian employees surveyed in a recent workplace study said they were the subject of harassment or discrimination in their current employment on the basis of their sexuality • 50. 3% reported being ridiculed in front of colleagues or subject to homophobic remarks or jokes in the workplace • 28. 3% had been the subject of aggressive, inappropriate or unwelcome questions about their status • 21. 7% of participants had been ‘outed’ in the workplace against their will. • 11. % had experienced verbal abuse, including threats of physical and sexual abuse • Over 17% felt that their careers had probably been restricted because of their homosexuality (Working it out. ) Ssexuality discrimination is usually ignored in our society. It is a known fact that most of us have seen and heard people at work, at home, or in public expressing their lack of acceptance with people with a different sexual orientation. This kind of discrimination can damage people’s job security, work performance, and their health.

It violates their right to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness. Sexuality and gender discrimination can also affect other employees, managers and employers because it contributes to reduced productivity, increased drop-out rates, stress levels, absenteeism, resignations and loss of precious skills (Anonymous). Interview with Gabriel I had the opportunity to conduct an interview with a man named Gabriel (who prefers to be called Michael), he is 25 years old, works as a Customer Service Representative at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, and is open about being gay.

I asked him a few questions regarding his sexual orientation and the effects it has on his life on the job: Adriane: At what point did you decide to be open about your sexuality at work? And what was your employer’s response? Michael: When I first started working I stayed in the “closet”, but as soon as my parents found out about my sexuality, I figured why should I hide it any longer? As for my employers, I never had negative responses from them. I think it’s because I keep everything I do at work professional.

Adriane: Did you ever deal with harassment or negative feedback from co-workers and supervisors? And how did it make you feel? Michael: No, not anything too serious. There would be the occasional stare and gossip behind my back, but generally everyone warms up around me after awhile. I try to stay focused on what I’m doing at work, so I tend to block out all the drama that goes on. Adriane: Do you think your sexual orientation has been a barrier to finding employment? Why or why not?

Michael: Definitely, I tried getting jobs at certain businesses and ultimately was turned down. I thought I had to pretend to be straight to get a job. There was this time when I applied at a bank, and in the interview, I noticed that the guy interviewing me would not give any eye contact and was really quick with his questions. He said that he would give me a call if anything came up, and when I stood up to shake his hand, he refused my hand shake and walked right past me to open the door. It was the most awkward interview I had.

It wasn’t until later that I realized that being gay lost me that chance. Adriane: What advice would you give any manager, supervisor or co-worker regarding dealing with ones sexual orientation in the workplace? Michael: Its one thing to not discriminate against another in the work area, but to have an open mind about that person and give him or her chance to show you what they can bring to the table can help you and the company you work for be more progressive and flow in a positive way (Personal Communication, September 24. 007). I was introduced to Michael through a very good friend, and she had nothing but nice and positive things to say about him. It is a shame an employer would miss out on hiring a qualified candidate because of his sexual orientation. Too bad for the guy at the bank, Michael’s current employer obviously did not use his sexual orientation as a barrier to hiring him. Embracing Differences

Employees can stop discrimination and harassment in the work place by using these simple strategies: • Employees should not tolerate homophobic behaviours and attitudes, challenge those who make slurs, jokes or other comments or who do things that demean or attack people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, or their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity • Use inclusive language that does not assume all people are of the same sexual orientation (for example, inviting ‘partners’ to team social events rather than husbands and wives) • Treating all people who you work with fairly, respectfully and valuing peoples contributions regardless of their sexual orientation • Be prepared with what you might say in response to discriminatory comments. For example, you could say: ‘Sexuality isn’t important. What is important is that workers fulfil their job requirements’, or what matters is that workers respect each other, are good workers and are committed to be the best they can be (Anonymous). Employers can also take steps to ensure they are not discrimination against a candidate or employee by; • Leading by example • Recruit, hire, and promote fairly • Build a culture of respect • Handle workplace harassment Implement and monitor equality policies the company adapts • Provide training to ALL employees Conclusion The good thing about homophobia in the workplace and society as a whole is we can do something about. First, we must realize it starts with self. We all need to realize it is truly unethical to discriminate on an individual or group because we do not agree with their lifestyle practices or beliefs. Being different makes each of us unique and we all bring something to the table for others to learn from. In purpose of the paper was to inform you about what is homophobia, the different types of homophobia, the effects of homophobia in the workplace, and provide helpful information to help embrace sexuality differences.

The important thing to remember is when you decide to embrace differences; it starts with educating yourself so you can educate others, and to have an open mind. References: Anti-Defamation League (2001). Homophobia. Retrieved on September 24, 2007 from http://www. adl. org/hate-patrol/homophobia. asp Anonymous, (n. d. ). Homophobia. Retrieved on September 21, 2007 from http://www. ebroadcast. com. au/lookup/encyclopedia/ho/Homophobia. html Blumenfeld, W. (1992). Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price. Retrieved on September 22, 2007 from http://web. missouri. edu/~umcstudentlifelgbt/resources/homophobiahurtseveryone. pdf Clay, G. (2007). Homophobia. Retrieved on September 21, 2007 from http://www. menstuff. org/issues/byissue/homophobia. tml Harvey, C. P. , & Allard, M. J. (2005) Understanding and managing diversity: Readings, cases and exercises (3rd ed. ). Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall. Menhinnitt, Dan (May 2007). Homophobia ‘hampered gay murder probe. Retrieved on September 21, 2007 from http://www. thisislocallondon. co. uk/misc/print. php? artid=1400779 Thompson, C. , & Zoloth, B. (1990). The Campaign to end Homophobia. Retrieved on September 25, 2007 from http://www. endhomophobia. org/homophobia. htm Working It Out (n. d. ). Homophobia in the Workplace. Retrieved on September 26, 2007, from http://www. workingitout. org. au/Homophobia_Workplace. html


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