2019-Thomas Calvard

Lived Experiences of Bisexual Employees’ Exclusion in UK Workplaces

Principal Investigator: Dr Thomas Calvard, University of Edinburgh Business School

Co-Investigator: Dr Michelle O’Toole, University of Edinburgh Business School

Project summary

Bisexuality is under-represented within the wider LGBTQ+ umbrella of gendered and sexual identities, marginalized both academically and organizationally. This research project used queer theory and theories of identity at work to analyse the experiences in interviews with 63 bisexual employees working in a variety of industries in the UK. Findings indicated that bisexual identity is experienced in terms of its relative invisibility to co-workers; tensions around its disclosure; and how organizational settings, practices and norms affect its performance and politics in co-worker interactions.  Heteronormative and gay-centric assumptions often lead co-workers to misidentify bisexuality as heterosexual, homosexual or stigmatized in workplace interactions. Binary attitudes towards sexuality, biphobia and the contested legitimacy of bisexuality prompt bisexual employees to ‘queer’ their identity work across various co-worker encounters, responding to perceived misidentifications with critical challenges and qualifications. Our findings have implications for the need to raise awareness, recognition of, and support for minority identities by ‘queering’ their inclusion, renegotiating them on more recognized and acceptable terms, especially those identities that are particularly vulnerable to invisibility, erasure, and misconception at work.



- Academic article: Calvard, T., O’Toole, M., & Hardwick, H. (2020). Rainbow Lanyards: Bisexuality, Queering and the Corporatisation of LGBT Inclusion. Work, Employment and Society, 34(2), 356-368. [Open Access free to download: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0950017019865686 ]

- BAM CMS Division Best Paper Award, Conference in the Cloud, September 2020