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Author ORCID Identifier
Open Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
E. Nicole Melton
The sport industry has historically struggled to diversify its workforce. However, shifting racial and ethnic demographics in the United States in the coming decades, and greater numbers of individuals identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT), will soon force its hand. Recruiting and retaining a talented workforce from a diverse labor pool will require that sport organizations ensure their workplaces are inclusive spaces where employees can present their authentic selves without fear. Unfortunately, employees from marginalized groups often face implicit and explicit pressures to downplay aspects of their stigmatized identity through identity covering, which can have negative effects for the individual as well the organization. In this dissertation, I carried out three studies to investigate the covering phenomenon at various stages of the employment process: application (Study One), hiring decision (Study Two), and full-time employment (Study Three). Studies One and Three investigated identity covering from the perspective of the marginalized individual, while Study Two investigated how identity covering is perceived by hiring decision makers. Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and participant observation (shadowing) revealed that covering is a nuanced phenomenon, and as such understanding the contextual complexities present in a given scenario helps us understand when, how and why individuals engage in covering. Additionally, covering involves a constant, conscious effort on the part of marginalized individuals, which can come at a steep personal cost while also giving them sought after rewards. Finally, marginalized individuals are beginning to see their stigmatized identities as strengths, particularly in traditionally homogeneous environments such a sport that need to be more intentional about their diversity and inclusion. As these individuals begin to gradually embrace more of their authentic selves at work, the need for covering may subside.
MacCharles, Jeffrey, "Covering All Their Bases: An Investigation Into Identity Covering in the Sport Workplace" (2020). Doctoral Dissertations. 2052.
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Available for download on Wednesday, September 01, 2021