The double-edged sword of having a unique perspective

Jesus Gacilo (Birkbeck University of London, London, UK)
Brigitte Steinheider (Department of Psychology, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)
Thomas H. Stone (Department of Management, Oklahoma State University, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)
Vivian Hoffmeister (Department of Psychology, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)
I.M. Jawahar (Office of the Provost, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, USA)
Tara Garrett (Department of Psychology, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Publication date: 16 April 2018



Drawing on social identity theory and the concept of perceived organizational support, the authors conducted an online, exploratory survey of 150 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers in 28 countries to examine whether being LGBT provides a unique perspective in the workplace, if they perceive their employer appreciates this perspective, and what effects this has on perceived discrimination and perceived career advancement. Collectively these questions have implications for work engagement and career prospects of LGBT workers. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Multiple regression and qualitative analyses were used to analyze Likert scale questions along with open-ended options.


The majority of respondents agree that being LGBT offers a unique perspective compared to heterosexual workers. The more respondents agree that they have a different perspective, the more they feel discriminated against. After controlling for demographic variables as well as education, tenure, job level, and disclosure, hierarchical linear regression analyses showed offering a unique perspective increases perceived career advantages. Results also showed increased perceived career advantages if the employer appreciates this perspective. Results of a second regression analysis also showed that a unique perspective is associated with more perceived discrimination, unless their employer appreciates this perspective.

Research limitations/implications

Although single-item measures and a small international sample limit generalizability, rich qualitative responses provide insights into LGBT attitudes across multiple countries.

Practical implications

This study can be applied to future understandings of the diverse nature of LGBT perceptions and attitudes in the workplace.

Social implications

This is one of the first studies to examine LGBT perceptions that they possess a unique perspective that should be valued by employers.


This exploratory study is one of the first to recognize unique LGBT perspectives and examine the relationship between their perspectives and perceived discrimination and career advantages.



Gacilo, J., Steinheider, B., Stone, T., Hoffmeister, V., Jawahar, I. and Garrett, T. (2018), "The double-edged sword of having a unique perspective", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 298-312.

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