Portrait: Shannon O'Rourke

Shannon O’Rourke

ESR 7

E-Mail: shannon.orourke@open.ac.uk

Project abstract

This qualitative research study will explore the workplace and leadership experiences of sexual minority (LGBQ+) individuals in the UK and Italy. Initially, this project aimed to investigate the experiences of LGBTQ individuals in the workplace; upon review of relevant literature around the different impacts of sexual orientation versus gender identity, it was determined that the research would focus on sexual orientation. I felt that this was a more realistic scope, and the decision was supported by both supervisors.  This project will investigate the relationship between personal journeys with sexual orientation and professional lives, looking at issues such as identity management and expectations in the workplace. A phenomenological approach will aim to produce research findings that are centered around rich descriptions of lived experience. A focus on the embodied experience of being LGBQ+ in the workplace will explore how sexual orientation may or may not be communicated via vocal, visual, or other forms of physical cues. There will be an inquiry towards self-presentation, as well as notions of professionalism and the impact on individual and collective expressions of identity. To highlight the complexity and diversity of LGBQ+ experiences, this project will seek to understand how other identities/circumstances (age, race, religion, class, geographic location) intersect with sexual orientation and shape lived experience.

In addition to exploring individual experience, this research will examine the role of LGBQ+ leaders/employees in creating a culture of openness, inclusion, and diversity in a workplace/organization and explore how leaders experience these expectations.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Peter Hegarty, The Open University/UK

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