LGBT, voice, identity management, workplace experiences
This paper explores the separation and isolation from the mainstream workforce that lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees can experience due to their sexual orientation, and how this can affect their voice and silence in the workplace. In response to perceived threats and actual experience of stigma in the workplace, we highlight the need for LGBT voice in organizations, whilst unpacking the complexities and concerns for LGBT employees in publicly voicing their sexual orientation at work. We explore how LGBT employee networks help mitigate LGBT isolation at work, and can directly and indirectly provide them with voice in the organization. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with LGBT employees across organizations in Ireland. The findings confirm that LGBT employees can experience isolation at work, affecting their voice, and that workplace networks may moderate this loneliness and stigma. However, the findings question the value of LGBT employee networks in providing voice for all sexual minority employees. Our research considers the individual-level responses of LGBT employees to participation in, and the value of, employee networks, and the perceived role of these networks in giving them visibility and voice.