Sexual orientation discrimination in the United Kingdom’s labour market: A field experiment
From Human Relations
This study shows that discrimination of gay and lesbian job seekers is commonplace within both private firms and the public sector in the UK. The research involved 144 young people – all first-time job seekers – making 11,098 applications. The study, the first of its kind ever conducted in the UK, found that gay applicants of both sexes are 5% less likely to be offered a job interview than heterosexual applicants with comparable skills and experience. The firms who offer interviews to gay male candidates pay an average salary of 2.0% less than those who invite heterosexuals for interview. For lesbian women the average salary is 1.4%. Gay men receive the fewest invitations for interviews in traditionally male-dominated occupations (accounting, banking, finance and management jobs), whereas lesbians receive the fewest invitations for interviews in traditionally female-dominated occupations (social care, social services and charity jobs).
Deviations from heteronormativity affect labour market dynamics. Hierarchies of sexual orientation can result in job dismissals, wage discrimination and the failure to promote gay and lesbian individuals to top ranks. In this article, I report on a field experiment (144 jobseekers and their correspondence with 5549 firms) that tested the extent to which sexualm orientation affects the labour market outcomes of gay and lesbian job-seekers in the United Kingdom. Their minority sexual orientations, as indicated by job-seekers’ participation in gay and lesbian university student unions, negatively affected their workplace prospects. The probability of gay or lesbian applicants receiving an invitation for an interview was 5.0nn percent (5.1%) lower than that for heterosexual male or female applicants. In addition,gay men and lesbians received invitations for interviews by firms that paid salaries that were 1.9 percent (1.2%) lower than those paid by firms that invited heterosexual male or female applicants for interviews. In addition, in male- or female-dominated occupations gay men and lesbians received fewer invitations for interviews than their non-gay and nonlesbian counterparts. Furthermore, gay men and lesbians also received fewer invitations to interview for positions in which masculine or feminine personality traits were highlighted in job applications and at firms that did not provide written equal opportunity standards, suggesting that the level of discrimination depends partly on the personality traits that employers seek and on organization-level hiring policies. I conclude that heteronormative discourse continues to reproduce and negatively affect the labour market prospects of gay men and lesbians.
Sexual orientation discrimination in the United Kingdom’s labour market: A field experiment Human Relations 0018726715569855, first published on April 8, 2015 doi:10.1177/0018726715569855