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06.05 Informal Social Networks and Organizational Inclusion: The Invisible Minority’s Dilemma

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Project Summary
Discriminatory behaviours against minorities of all kinds are common in many organizations. This may negatively affect e.g. their individual well-being and work performance. How can the inclusion of minorities at the workplace be safeguarded? Specifically, we are interested in those employees who possess a concealable stigmatized identity, and, thus, in principle have the option to not share this characteristic with others within the workplace. The particular minority group we study are lesbian women, gay men, and bisexual people (LGBs). This project investigates the interplay between informal social networks, organizational policies, and inclusion of invisible minorities at work. We focus on two aspects of inclusion - perceptions of belongingness and opportunities for authenticity - and their impact on work-related outcomes, for the individual and organization alike.

Research Design and Data
A multi-method approach will be used to address several sub-projects. First, we collect mixed-method (semi-structured interview and ego-network) data on LGB employees within the workplace, in order to assess how the workplace experiences, perceptions of inclusion, and assess how the informal social networks within which they are embedded play a role therein. Second, we conduct an online vignette experiment, wherein we study the (mis)match between acceptance/rejection cues originating from the employer, a manager, or a co-worker, and how this may differentially affect disclosure decisions (i.e., instantaneous moments wherein one must decide whether to disclose a concealable stigmatized identity). Based on these data, we also aim to study the relationship between perceived workplace inclusion and degrees of openness about one's sexual identity at work.

Julian Rengers

Prof. dr. Rafael Wittek 
Prof. dr. Sabine Otten 
Dr. Liesbet Heyse 

University of Groningen, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

Sociology, Psychology

September 1, 2017 - December 31, 2021

University of Groningen

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