Strategy is key to running a successful business in any field. Specifically, knowing employee tendencies, without making assumptions or depending on stereotypes adds to the processes for any employer looking to organize a team of employees to reach a goal. In a world where the LGBTQ community is becoming normalized in mainstream culture, and prevalent, employers must understand the importance of knowing how people from this community function, especially in relation to other social groups, such as the heterosexual and cisgender community.
Being a part of the LGBTQ community is seen by some as a choice, rather than a predisposition. However, a study conducted by Ivanka Savic at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden has shown that brain scans of homosexuals are similar to those of heterosexuals of the opposite sex. These scans revealed striking similarities in brain regions which control emotion, mood, anxiety, and aggressiveness. Furthermore, as a whole structure, the brains of gay men and straight women were discovered to be mostly symmetrical, while the brains of gay women and straight men were discovered to be mostly asymmetrical.
Not only does this mean that individuals of these separate groups will have tendencies to react similarly in certain situations from an emotional standpoint, but it also means that some individuals of the LGBTQ community and the heterosexual/cisgender community share certain abilities. For example, according to studies being conducted at the University of East London, primarily by Qazi Rahman, the group of gay men and straight women tends to have better verbal skills, while the group of gay women and straight men tends to have more spatial intelligence. Of course, these are not the only skill set differences. It’s important to note that these studies may suggest tendencies, we must not make assumptions that a person of the LGBTQ community will interact or react to the ways these studies suggest. Everyone is an individual and it’s most important to start from this standpoint.
Understanding these similarities, and typical abilities, is important for employers to know for two reasons. First, it may enable employers to determine which people will most likely work well together, due to similar thought patterns and habits. Second, it may enable employers to organize the most effective group of individuals to accomplish certain goals, based on skills. This is not to say that discrimination of employees based on gender and/or sexual orientation is acceptable, but simply that employers could use the projected tendencies and skills of different groups to maximize potential.
People will generally show more trust, and work better with, members of their own social groups, or ones similar to them. In-group/out-group bias, defined as “the tendency to display positive feelings toward members of the same group, and negative feelings towards members of the opposite group” by Gregory J. Feist and Erika L. Rosenberg in Psychology Perspectives and Connections, demonstrates this perfectly. While strong positive and/or strong negative feelings may not always apply, the same principle still holds true. Understanding that certain members of the LGBTQ community and certain members of the heterosexual community, such as gay men and straight women or gay women and straight men, work well together is an important piece of knowledge for employers to have.
Furthermore, while similarities in brain structure and thought process may allow certain individuals to work wonderfully together, employers can use this knowledge to create even more effective working groups with a different approach as well. Through awareness of predisposed skill sets, employers can assign different employees and groups of employees to work on projects for which these skills are aimed. For example, a group of gay women and straight men, tending to have greater spatial intelligence, may be assigned to more hands-on projects, such as reorganization, building projects, etc.
These skill sets also allow individuals to excel in certain industries. To draw from popular example, hit reality shows, such as Project Runway, can sometimes demonstrate this theory. While not concrete evidence, shows such as this can demonstrate that, for example, the group which includes gay men and straight women generally excel at projects and industries aimed toward creativity, such as the fashion industry.
In conclusion, while clearly not everyone in a given demographic group possesses the same skill sets and thought tendencies, similar brain structures and predispositions can drive individuals to work well with certain people and excel in certain environments. Employers must be aware of these similarities in order to maximize business and employee potential regardless of the demographic mix and diversity of their employees. By understanding which groups may work well together, and which groups might best accomplish certain tasks, the best results will occur.