Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights

Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights

Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights

Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights

Synopsis

Despite the backlash against lesbian and gay rights occurring in cities and states across the country, a growing number of corporations are actually expanding protections and benefits for their gay and lesbian employees. Why this should be, and why some corporations are increasingly open to inclusive policies while others are determinedly not, is what Nicole C. Raeburn seeks to explain in Changing Corporate America from Inside Out.

A long-overdue study of the workplace movement, Raeburn's analysis focuses on the mobilization of lesbian, gay, and bisexual employee networks over the past fifteen years to win domestic partner benefits in Fortune 1000 companies. Drawing on surveys of nearly one hundred corporations with and without gay networks, intensive interviews with human resources executives and gay employee activists, as well as a number of case studies, Raeburn reveals the impact of the larger social and political environment on corporations' openness to gay-inclusive policies, the effects of industry,and corporate characteristics on companies' willingness to adopt such policies, and what strategies have been most effective in transforming corporate policies and practices to support equitable benefits for all workers.

Nicole C. Raeburn is assistant professor and chair of sociology at the University of San Francisco.

Excerpt

Given the often contentious intersection between advocates for change and profit-oriented companies, a central question is how the rights of various groups are negotiated and secured in the workplace. Despite the backlash against gay and lesbian rights occurring in cities and states across the country, a rapidly expanding number of corporations are including sexual orientation in nondiscrimination policies, providing gay-inclusive diversity training, and extending health insurance and other benefits to domestic partners of lesbian and gay employees. Focusing on the Fortune 1000, or Fortune magazine’s list of the top 1,000 revenue-generating companies in the United States, my study reveals that the majority of equitable-benefits adopters instituted this policy change only after facing internal pressure from mobilized groups of lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees (see also D. Baker, Strub, and Henning 1995). Serving as powerful reminders that the state is not the sole contested terrain, these “institutional activists” (Santoro and McGuire 1997) demonstrate that committed individuals “do” politics not simply on the streets or in voting booths but also in the cubicles, offices, and boardrooms of companies across the country.

Yet not all gay employee groups have succeeded in their fight for inclusive policies, and some corporations have instituted these changes in the absence of employee activism. How, then, do we account for variation in companies’ willingness to adopt such policies? That question provides the grounding point for this book. My analysis focuses on the emergence and outcomes of the workplace movement, as it is typically called by challengers, a form of institutional activism that is long overdue for study. I concentrate particularly . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.