Magazine article HRMagazine

Concealing Identity Has an Economic Impact

Magazine article HRMagazine

Concealing Identity Has an Economic Impact

Article excerpt

Being forced to hide personal information, such as sexual orientation, can be emotionally stressful. However, researchers also have found that it can negatively affect employees' productivity and interactions with co-workers.

For employees, the strain of constantly monitoring what they say takes its toll on their work, says Clayton R. Critcher, assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

The research adds an economic perspective to what has been primarily a moral debate over the treatment of gays and lesbians in the workplace, he says.

"Employees perform best when they feel comfortable being open about themselves and their identities at work," says Critcher, who conducted the study with Melissa J. Ferguson, associate psychology professor at Cornell University.

They conducted three studies in which some participants were instructed not to reveal their sexual orientation during mock interviews. In the fourth study, the researchers measured whether the participants' intellectual, physical and interpersonal skills were degraded by concealment. In one study, the participants who concealed their sexual orientation performed 17 percent worse on a military spatial intelligence test than those who went through the interview without instructions to conceal. …

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