At the frontier: gender diverse professionals in corporate workplaces and LGBT+ support mechanisms in Sydney, Australia
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 09:56 authored by Elizabeth Bennett
With focus on highly skilled professionals, this thesis seeks to contribute to the growing literature on the experiences of gender diverse employees, who collectively face some of the most severe forms of workplace discrimination. Using semi-structured interviews, this research examines the lived experiences of individual employees, as well as the role lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) workplace support mechanisms play in their advocacy and representation. Additionally, this thesis extends on previous research in the area by exploring how workplace experiences may overlap or diverge between the transgender and gender non-binary employees interviewed. My analysis reveals the centrality of the workplace to the on-going process of identity formation, a site where employees’ gender and professional identities were connected and moulded simultaneously. The employees interviewed navigated the challenges of having a stigmatised gender identity creatively and resiliently, but in isolation from LGBT+ support mechanisms. Interviews with representatives from an LGBT+ intrafirm employee network and a non-profit LGBT+ workplace inclusion program showed they were eager to advocate for gender diverse employees. However, the homonormative and cisnormative nature underpinning past LGBT+ workplace activism and the leadership structures meant they lacked the know-how. Moreover, these mechanisms more readily reached professionals at large and well-resourced corporations, indicating unequal distribution of support. I argue that gender diverse employees are at the frontier of not only workplace diversity and inclusion reform, but also of the evolving LGBT+ rights movement as it grapples with its corporatisation, and intersectional inequalities within.