Original Paper

Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 293-306

First online:

Can Being Gay Provide a Boost in the Hiring Process? Maybe If the Boss is Female

  • Benjamin A. EverlyAffiliated withSchool of Business, Management, & Economics, University of Sussex Email author 
  • , Miguel M. UnzuetaAffiliated withAnderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles
  • , Margaret J. ShihAffiliated withAnderson School of Management, University of California, Los Angeles

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether men and women differentially prefer hiring gay and lesbian job applicants relative to equally qualified heterosexual job applicants.

Design/Methodology/Approach

Data were collected from two samples of non-student participants. Each participant evaluated the perceived hirability of an ostensibly real job applicant by reviewing the applicant’s resume. In reality, all participants were randomly assigned to evaluate the same fictitious resume that differed only in the gender and sexual orientation of the applicant.

Findings

We find that men perceived gay and lesbian job applicants as less hirable, while women perceived gay and lesbian job applicants as more hirable than heterosexual job applicants. Additionally, we show perceptions of hirability are mediated by perceptions of gay and lesbian job applicants’ competence.

Implications

These results show that bias against gays and lesbians is much more nuanced than previous work suggests. One implication is that placing more women in selection roles within organizations could be a catalyst for the inclusion of gay and lesbian employees. Additionally, these results could influence when and how gays and lesbians disclose their gay identities at work.

Originality/Value

These studies are the first to identify a positive bias in favor of gay and lesbian job applicants. As attitudes toward gays and lesbians become more positive, results like these are important to document as they signal a shift in intergroup relations. These results will also help managers and organizations design selection processes to minimize bias toward applicants.