Ivy Tech CCI Diversity Management Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Discussion Chapter 11
1. Explain the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
2. Discuss some of the differences in education and income levels for those in the
3. How is the invisibility of sexual orientation similar to or different from the invisibility of
4. Some states and cities have legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual
orientation, weight, appearance, and other factors that are not covered under federal
legislation. What factors may affect the passage of such legislation in some areas
but no in others? Is sexual orientation discrimination prohibited in the city or state in
which you live?
1. What do you think about the US’s Pledge of Allegiance saying “one-nation, under
God…” and “In God we trust” written on all US currency?
2. You have 8 employees that report to you. 5 of them are of the same faith and have
all asked for a day off of work to celebrate a religious observance. How should you
handle the request? Discuss responsible accommodations and undue hardships.
3. What do you think about a pharmacist not filling birth control of morning after pills
because of their faith?
4. How does religion affect those that identify as GLBTQ+? Chapter 12
After completing this chapter, readers should have a greater understanding of religion as
an aspect of diversity in organizations. Specifically, they should be able to:
1. discuss religion as an aspect of diversity
2. explain legislation related to religious diversity and selected legal cases involving
3. understand relationships between religious organizations and gender diversity
among organizational leaders.
4. discuss ways in which employers can accommodate religious practices of
employees and applicants.
5. examine ways employers can deal with conflicts among employees’ different
Lecture Notes and Teaching Suggestions
This chapter considers religion as an aspect of diversity. Religion is one of the original
areas covered by Title VII; however, when compared with race and sex, religion has
received considerably less attention as a diversity concern. The increasing religious
diversity of the U.S. population, partly as a result of increased immigration, makes
religious diversity an important issue. Racial profiling and harassment of Muslims or
those perceived to be Muslims are also important diversity concerns.
The chapter briefly covers the history of religious diversity in the U.S., emphasizing that
although many people came to the U.S. fleeing religious persecution, they did not always
find refuge in the U.S. Catholics and Jews faced severe discrimination in employment,
housing, and other areas. The U.S. population has historically been Christian and
continues to be so, although the percentage of Christians is now 76%, down from 86% in
Religion is a particularly interesting aspect of diversity in that religious organizations
tend to be homogeneous (that is, people generally worship with those who are similar to
them in race and ethnicity), many have narrowly defined roles for women, and one’s
religion is generally invisible. Students are often well aware of the homogeneity of
specific churches or other places of worship and the lack of women in leadership roles in
many religious organizations.
Under Title VII, employers should make reasonable accommodations to allow people to
observe their normal religious practices. The chapter provides several cases of religious
discrimination against people of various religious backgrounds. Some appearance
Chapter 12: Religion
requirements, such as no beards or short hair, may result in religious discrimination, and
thus should be carefully managed. (This is also discussed in Chapter 15). Emphasize to
students that because there are so many different religions, it is impossible for an
employer to be knowledgeable about them all. Instead, employers should listen to
employees’ requests for accommodation and try to be flexible.
Religious discrimination against Arabs and Muslims are discussed, as such
discrimination has increased since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United
States. The chapter emphasizes that most Arabs are not Muslims and most Muslims are
not Arabs, which is surprising to many students.
Women’s roles in organized religions, including the stained glass ceiling, and conflicts
between employees’ religious beliefs and organizations’ diversity programs (that include
sexual orientation diversity) are two focal areas of this chapter. The Hewlett-Packard case
and the AT&T Broadband case provide real-life examples of how religion and sexual
orientation conflicts were handled (and mishandled) in organizations. Students of all
religious backgrounds may find it interesting to learn that religious fundamentalism,
rather than religiosity itself, is associated with hostility toward sexual minorities.
Key Facts (and Associated Questions)
An estimated 84% of the world’s population is part of a religion.
Question: Were you surprised by the fact that so many people identify with a
Discuss that this statistic is somewhat higher than the percentage of the U.S.
population who report that they identify with a religion (about 80%). Students
may also be surprised to learn that the number of people in the U.S. stating no
religious preference is up from 8.2% in 1990 to 15.0% in 2008.
In the United States, employers are required to make reasonable
accommodations for employees’ religious practices, much like reasonable
accommodations for people with disabilities.
Questions: How does an employer determine what is reasonable and what is not
reasonable? Did you know employers should make accommodations to allow
people to observe their religious practices at work? What or who determines what
Emphasize that what is reasonable varies by employer and the circumstances at
hand. Many accommodations are associated with no costs, such as allowing time
off to pray (which can be made up) or allowing employees to wear certain
religious attire (such as culottes instead of pants), or not scheduling employees on
certain days (and scheduling employees of other faiths on those days). If students
wonder about employees who do not want to work on Saturdays, suggest they
Chapter 12: Religion
think of alternatives (some possibilities are allowing those who worship on
Sundays to work on Saturdays and those who worship on Saturdays to work on
Sundays; or allowing those who can work after worshipping to come in later). If
the organization is only open Tuesday-Saturday (beauty salons, for example), not
accommodating someone’s request for time off would not be illegal, however.
Many students (and employees and managers) are unaware of the need for
reasonable accommodation for religious practices. Emphasize that although
“reasonable accommodation” is commonly associated with people with
disabilities, it’s also needed for religion.
Harassment of Middle Easterners, Asian Indians, Sikhs, and others believed or
known to be Muslims increased significantly in the United States after
September 11, 2001 and has not returned to previous levels.
Question: Are you aware of any such harassment? Discuss.
Students may be familiar with cases in which people who looked Middle Eastern
were removed from airplanes. Discuss people’s stated discomfort with profiling,
while at the same time being uncomfortable with flying with someone who looks
Middle Eastern. Emphasize that profiling results in many innocent people being
harassed and many “guilty” people being missed.
Women clergy experience a “stained glass ceiling” in religious organizations
that is similar to the glass ceiling in other organizations.
Question: Have you heard of “the stained glass ceiling”? What factors affect
women’s experiences with the stained glass ceiling? How is the stained glass
ceiling similar to the regular glass ceiling that women face in other organizations?
Most students are not aware of the stained glass ceiling, but given thought, will
recognize its existence. Depending on the type of religion (denomination), women
may or may not face barriers to advancement. Some religions prohibit women
from serving in the highest leadership roles. Both types of glass ceiling keep
women from advancing past a certain level and confine them to certain positions.
Employees may post religious sayings in their workspaces, as long as they are
of a size that is reasonable for personal viewing, but posting large religious
sayings that target specific groups (e.g., gays), can be grounds for dismissal.
Question: Why can employers dictate what kinds and sizes of religious sayings
can be posted?
Emphasize that when at work, employers can prescribe much of the conduct that
occurs among employees. Most states are “employment-at-will” states, and thus
people can generally be terminated for any or no reason as long as it is not based
Chapter 12: Religion
on one’s race, sex, age, national origin, religion, or disability. Employers can
define acceptable conduct, and allowing religious sayings for one’s own use but
not to teach a lesson to others is their prerogative.
Table 12.2: Clarifying Religious Discrimination (EEOC)
This table provides definitions of different types of religious discrimination drawn from
the EEOC Web site to help employers understand issues associated with religion and
national origin discrimination and reasonable accommodations.
Students often wonder how a manager can tell if someone is just trying to use religion to
miss work or receive special privileges. The idea is to encourage accommodation of
“strongly held” religious beliefs, and individual managers should work to understand
someone’s beliefs rather than doubting them initially. Students often ask what if someone
has recently converted or changed religions. Managers should take employees’ word
about their faith-based needs for accommodation and judge them on whether undue
hardship is required to make the requested accommodation.
Questions to Consider (End of Chapter)
How is the “stained glass ceiling” similar to and different from the regular “glass
Depending on the type of religion (denomination), women may or may not face
barriers to advancement. Some religions prohibit women from serving in the
highest leadership roles. Both types of glass ceiling keep women from advancing
past a certain level and confine them to certain positions. In religious
organizations, these are often smaller churches (entities), with less prestige, or
junior pastor (leader) positions.
Title VII requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for
employees’ or applicants’ religious beliefs that do not cause undue hardship. How
frequent do you think requests for religious accommodation are?
Given that the majority of Arabs in the United States are Christians, why is the
perception that they are Muslims so widespread?
Students may suggest that the media plays a role here, which it likely doe. You’re
encouraged to question what you hear from the media and investigate other, more
sound, sources of data.
This chapter considers profiling against people who look as though they might be
Arab but aren’t. How do mistakes such as these relate to the “identifiability”
characterizations of minority groups as proposed by Dworkin and Dworkin? What
Chapter 12: Religion
implications do these mistakes have for perpetrators of profiling and hate crimes
and for their targets?
These types of mistakes emphasize that one must be identifiable in some way to
be singled out for differential treatment. These kinds of mistakes make the
perpetrators of profiling and hate crimes appear extremely ignorant. The targets of
this discriminatory behavior are likely to feel angry and frustrated. If the target is
a customer, he or she may not remain as a customer of an organization that allows
this behavior to occur.
Brodkin, K. (1998). How Jews Became White Folks & What That Says About Race in
America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Harris, G., Religious Diversity and the Workplace (2004).
http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=73543 . Accessed
Purvis, S. B. (1995). The Stained Glass Ceiling: Churches and Their Women Pastors.
Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press.
Salzman, J., Back, A., & Sorin, S. G. (Eds). (1992). Bridges and Boundaries: African
Americans and American Jews. New York: George Braziller and The Jewish Museum.
After completing this chapter, readers should have a greater understanding of sexual
orientation as an aspect of diversity. Specifically, they should be able to:
1. discuss the experiences of sexual minorities in organizations, in particular, gays
2. explain similarities and differences between sexual minorities and other nondominant groups.
3. compare population estimates, education, and income levels of gays and lesbians
with those of heterosexual men and women.
4. examine misperceptions about sexual minorities at work, negative outcomes
associated with being closeted, and benefits of full inclusion of sexual minorities.
5. suggest individual and organizational measures that can be employed to include
sexual minorities as valued employees, customers, and constituents.
Lecture Notes and Teaching Suggestions
This chapter concerns sexual orientation as a diversity issue, an area that is often
emotionally charged and that has similarities to and differences from other diversity
issues. Starkly different from other issues are the emotional and moral connotations
associated with homosexual behavior that accompany many people’s beliefs about and
behavior toward sexual minorities. While people are not faulted for or blamed for being
Black, female, or Latino, people fault gays and lesbians for their sexual orientation. In
contrast to overt racism or sexism, overt heterosexism is more commonly expressed and
widely viewed as acceptable. Further, friends of someone who is Black or Latino are not
fearful of being viewed as being Black or Latino if they are not, simply because of being
friends with or spending time with someone who is Black or Latino.
Sexual orientation is defined as a component of sexuality “characterized by enduring
emotional, romantic, sexual, and/or affectional attractions to individuals of a particular
gender”. The chapter focuses on the experiences of gays and lesbians as sexual
minorities, although suggestions for inclusion, equity, and fairness do include bisexuals
and transgenders as well.
The chapter begins with a brief review of the history of gays and lesbians and their
struggle for civil rights in the United States. No widespread federal legislation exists
prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, although several states and many cities
prohibit it. Sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited in federal civilian workplaces
by Executive Order 11478.
Chapter 11: Sexual Orientation
Many organizations include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination and harassment
policies, even though no widespread federal legislation currently protects sexual
minorities from discrimination at work. In such organizations, as with race, sex, age, or
ability discrimination, discrimination and harassment against sexual minorities is
prohibited. In addition, many of the Fortune 500 companies also include full partner
benefits for same sex partners. Many students perceive the term “partner benefits” to
mean medical benefits, but “full partner benefits” refers to medical benefits, rights to
retirement and pension plans, leave under plans similar to the family and medical leave,
and other broader benefits. Being able to take a same-sex partner to company events,
having his or her photo on one’s desk, and providing him or her with income security as a
family member are some of the benefits of working with companies with full partner
One’s sexual orientation is invisible, despite many people’s perceptions that they can
“tell” who is gay, lesbian, or heterosexual. This invisibility presents the option to remain
closeted for gays and lesbians, but this option is fraught with negative consequences. The
costs of continual vigilance to ensure that no one finds out distracts gays and lesbians
from doing productive work and is physically and emotionally taxing. Sexual minorities
who work in organizations in which they are comfortable being out are not subject to
such wasted energy and experience less role conflict, ambiguity, and less conflict
between work and home.
Research evidence on the lower earnings of gay men compared with similarly educated
heterosexual men and the higher earnings of lesbians compared with similarly educated
heterosexual women is presented. These findings suggest that gay men are penalized for
being gay and lesbians are penalized less than heterosexual women for being women.
The chapter discusses the unnecessary and unfounded fears that are sometimes expressed
about working with or hiring someone who is gay. In contrast to perceptions
(increasingly less common, however), HIV/AIDS is no longer a gay male disease; nearly
half of new cases are contracted through heterosexual contact or IV drug use. The risk of
contracting HIV or AIDS at work in most jobs is very small.
Key Facts (and Associated Questions)
No federal laws currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in private
workplaces in the United States, but many cities, states, and organizations do
prohibit such discrimination.
Question: Can someone be fired for being gay or lesbian?
Indeed in most states, someone can be fired for being gay or lesbian. Where there
are state or local statutes, such discrimination is prohibited, however.
Chapter 11: Sexual Orientation
On average, gay males have higher education but lower earnings than
heterosexual men; lesbians have higher education and earnings than
Question: What factors affect these differences in return on educational
investment based on sexual orientation?
As discussed in the chapter, gay men may be steered to jobs deemed appropriate,
and these may be feminine-typed jobs (e.g., hairdresser, designer, or artist).
Penalties for deviating from the preferred male norm of male heterosexuality may
be greater for those members of the higher status (e.g., male) group than for
women who are lesbians. Lesbians may be perceived to be self-reliant and
independent (e.g., not having a man to provide financial assistance) and thus may
be viewed as more committed workers than heterosexual women. This reflects
stereotypes about both lesbians and heterosexual women.
Regardless of their sexual orientation, employees are more committed to
organizations in which sexual orientation discrimination is not tolerated.
Question: Why do you think employees are more committed when an
organization practices tolerance?
Employees may be glad that whatever their sexual orientation, they can be
comfortable. There is a lot of tension for sexual minorities, and they are likely to
feel grateful that they don’t have to be on guard about their sexual orientation.
Research has found that people who perceived sexual orientation discrimination at
their workplace had more negative job attitudes and lower satisfaction, and
thought they had less opportunity for promotion.
Organizations with inclusive GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender)
policies financially outperform competitors with less inclusive policies1.
Question: Why do you think the organizations that are more inclusive outperform
People may be more productive in these firms because they don’t have to spend energy
trying to conceal their sexual orientation. Also, gays and lesbians have strong buying
power and are responsive to organizational fairness. In addition, many heterosexual allies
of the GLBT community will choose to patronize companies that emphasize fairness.
Wang, P. & Schwarz, J. (2010). “Stock Price Reactions to GLBT Nondiscrimination Policies.” Human
Resource Management, 49(2): 195-216.
Chapter 11: Sexual Orientation
Organizational Feature 11.1: Cracker Barrel Reverses its Anti-Gay Stance,
but Diversity Problems Remain
This feature discusses Cracker Barrel’s 1991 policy that called for termination of
non-heterosexuals and its ultimate reversal and inclusion of prohibitions against
sexual orientation discrimination in its non-discrimination policy in 2002. The
1991 policy resulted in the termination of several gay employees, which is not
illegal under Federal law in the United States. Public outrage, boycotts, and
shareholder activism resulted in Cracker Barrel’s reversal of the policy.
The company has also had trouble with discrimination against African American
customers and employees. A U.S. Justice Department inquiry found that Black
customers had longe…
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