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Sexual Orientation Discrimination at the Workplace Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 27th, 2020

Study design

The proposed research will use a case study approach to the problem. Six organizations will be used in the study, with each organization treated as a different case. The study will be carried out between January 2015 and April 2015. A case study approach is important because it is an investigation of a phenomenon as it occurs without the need for the investigators to intervene (Baxter & Jack, 2008). It is a detailed analysis of an individual case in which the primary assumption is that the investigator can acquire knowledge about the phenomenon or issue using an intensive exploration of one case out of a population of cases. The aim of a researcher in a case study is to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of an event (Baxter & Jack, 2008). At the same time, the researcher aims at developing a generalized set of theoretical statements or descriptions of the regularities in the phenomenon or problem being investigated.

In most cases, there is no rigorous plan of case studies because it allows the researcher to plan a field study without a comprehensive or predefined structure for the data collection and analysis. The assumption in the process of data collection is that the observations made in the field will guide the conduct of the study. As explained by Baxter and Jack (2008), a case study approach provides the researchers with a high degree of flexibility, an important attribute of the research. The major activity in the process is the collection of data. The nature of the subject matter has an important role of determining the nature and type of the selected data collection techniques and tools (Baxter & Jack, 2008). It allows the researchers to choose from a wide range of data collection techniques such as observations, interviews, surveys, focus groups or investigations of the available documents recorded from previous studies or surveys (Baxter & Jack, 2008).

Study population

As described above, the proposed study will examine six organizations as the cases. The cases will be selected from three different industries- manufacturing, service and health. Each of the three industries will provide two organizations. In addition, the researcher will target 15 participants from each of the six organizations, which means that the total sample will be 90 participants. Moreover, in each organization, 4 participants will be drawn from the management level while the remaining 11 participants will be drawn from the lower levels of the organizational structures. In addition, the researcher will include both males and females in the sample from each of organization in order to ensure that bias towards any gender is avoided. The aim is to ensure that equal representation of the two genders will be achieved.

Inclusion criteria

The criteria for choosing the case organizations will be based on six major aspects. First, both medium-sized (SME) companies and large organizations will be included. Secondly, the cases will be drawn from the three different types of sectors described above. Thirdly, the private and public sectors will be represented. In addition, the case cases for the study will be drawn from different parts of the country in order to ensure enough representation of diverse geographical regions. The case studies will also represent the diverse nature of the workforce as described above, where the demographic aspects of age, sexual orientation and religion/ belief will be represented. Finally, the cases chosen will be used as a paradigm of good practice in an organization based on the aspects of sexual orientation, religion/belief, age or the mixture of the three factors.

Identification of the sample population

First, a list of companies will be drawn based on a comprehensive review of good practice. The organizations will be selected to represent the inclusion criteria described above. It is expected that the researcher will be able to identify the diversity of the workforce in all the organizations. However, this will not be included in the final selection because the possibility of limitations is expected, including the inability to identify the diversity of the labor in some of the organizations at the initial stage of selection.

Data collection apparatus

It is expected that varying level of access in all the six organizations chosen as the case studies will be available. In all the cases, the researcher expects that human resource and diversity representative will be available for the interviews.

Semi-structured interviews will be used in the data collection procedure. Comprehensive schedule for the interviews will be developed. First, the participants from the managerial levels of all the organizations will be interviewed at strategic positions such as their offices, boardrooms or other places chosen by the participants. The interviews of the low-level employees will be conducted based on a comprehensive set of questions that the interviewer will be filling. The following table will be used to outline the key aspects of the organizations and the participants interviewed in each of the six cases.

Case Name Sector Location Participants Study issue
Housing corporation Private service sector 15
Regional Hospital Public health sector 15
Retail company Private service sector 15
Police Public 15
Communications company Private service 15
Local authority Public 15

The study will primarily be qualitative in nature. The information given by the interviews will be recorded in statements as well as in electronic formats. An important aspect of a qualitative study is to allow the freedom of describing the phenomenon as it occurs in nature. There will be little intervention or manipulation of the variables by the researcher. This is an important aspect of the study because it will allow the researcher to draw information based on the observations made. In this case, the feelings, perceptions and lived experiences of the participants will be examined. The participants will be expected to express their feelings or perceptions towards sexual discrimination at their workplaces. It is expected that the closed interviews will give the participants a good environment to express the lived experiences, especially because enough privacy will be provided.


The study will attempt to describe the phenomenon of sexual orientation discrimination at the workplace. As such, the aim is to determine whether sexual orientation discrimination occurs at the specific workplaces chosen as the case studies. In addition, it aims at describing how and why the phenomenon occurs (or does not occur) at the workplaces and the effects it has on the employees.

Therefore, the researcher will examine the interviews and describe the degree of discrimination based on the lived experiences. The measured factors will include level of earning for persons perceived to be (or are confirmed to be) lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender against the level of earnings for the people perceived to be non-LGBT. The level of earnings will also be measured against an individual’s level of education, marital status, occupation and region of residence (Dawson, 2005). The level of education, marital status, area of residence, gender and sexual orientation will be the independent variables while the level of income will be the dependent measure.

Secondly, an individual’s ability or willingness to disclose sexual orientation will be measured against the independent variables (Dawson, 2005). The researcher will examine the organization perception of the individuals who freely and openly portray or express their sexual orientation and the perceptions of the colleagues towards the individual’s orientation. In addition, the researcher will measure the outcomes of the disclosure of sexual orientation based on the level of income and the probability of promotion/demotion at the workplace. Discrimination will be described in terms of the probability of an individual being promoted or demoted or an increase/decrease in the level of income after the disclosure (Badgett, 2005). Therefore, disclosure is the independent variable while the dependent variables are the likelihood of promotion/demotion and increase/decrease of the income level for every individual who discloses the sexual orientation at the workplace.

The measures will require a comprehensive method for determining their validity as well as reliability. In this case, it will be important to carry out a pilot study prior to the actual study. In this case, the researcher will use a sample of students at the affiliated university. The students will be required to pretend to be the employees in the organizations mentioned and describe their perceptions towards sexual orientation in their “companies”. The pilot study will take one week to complete. Students and professors in the researcher’s department will be involved in verifying the effectiveness of research tools as well as the validity and reliability of the case studies, the data collection tools (interview questions) and the measures involved. any weakness noted in the pilot study will be addressed by improving the tools and measures in order to reflect the actual experiences of the employees with diverse sexual orientations in their respective companies.

Ethical considerations

In general, it is important to note that information about an individual’s sexual orientation is a personal matter. It should remain a private issue. In fact, the debate about the disclosure of sexual orientation in the US and other parts of the world is highly contentious due to the private nature of the issue. As such, the proposed study will apply comprehensive measures to ensure that the privacy of the participants is addressed adequately.

In general, the five principles of ethics for psychologists provided by the American Psychological Association (2010) will be used to developed the ethical standards and guidelines of the proposed study.

First, the principle of no maleficence and beneficence will be considered. The researcher will seek to safeguard the rights and welfare of the organizations and the participants (American Psychological Association, 2010). The researcher will work independently of bias, malignant affiliations as well as prejudices. Bias towards any of the employee or organizations chosen in the case study will be avoided.

Secondly, the principle of responsibility and fidelity will be applied. The ethical compliance of the researcher will be considered by ensuring that the researcher does not have any personal interest in the information gained from the companies and their employees (American Psychological Association, 2010). The researcher will inform the case companies and their employees that the intended study will be used for academic purposes. It will be stated clearly that the knowledge gained will be used to contribute to the general knowledge about the issue of study.

Thirdly, the study will follow the principle of integrity as provided by the American psychological association. The aim is to ensure that manipulations, fabrication of results as well as fraud are avoided. The researcher will ensure that the reported results reflect the actual responses given by the participants.

The principle of justice will be applied in the study. The researcher will ensure that the information gained from the study will be made available through publication in the appropriate journal (American Psychological Association, 2010). No information will be concealed for the purposes of the researcher’s personal or institutional gains.

Finally, the principle of respect for the dignity and rights of participants will be applied. In this case, the researcher will seek consent from the companies involved as well as their employees. Consent forms will be sent to the managers informing them of the need and intentions of the proposed study. The employees will be required to fill and return consent forms informing the researcher of their willingness to participate in the study and provide honest information. The researcher will not coerce any employee to give information because the aim is to obtain honest and voluntary employees. The employees will be informed that their names, details, perceptions and sexual orientation will not be disclosed. Unique identification codes will be given to all the participants (American Psychological Association, 2010). In addition, the final report will no reflect the names of the organizations or their employees. Rather, it will indicate them in terms of unique codes running from A to F.


American Psychological Association. (2010). American Psychological Association ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Web.

Badgett, M. L. (2005). The wage effects of sexual orientation discrimination. Industrial and labor relations review, 6(2), 726-739.

Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative Case Study Methodology: Study design and implementation for novice researchers. The Qualitative Report, 13(4), 544-559.

Dawson, G. A. (2005). Sexual orientation discrimination. Equal Opportunities International, 24(3/4), 46 – 49.

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