Within the career development and career counseling field, it is important to engage with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) population. There are many environmental stressors and other factors that are unique to GLBT individuals. The career needs of the GLBT community require specific career interventions in order to help them to successfully function in today's work environments. This review explores the specific needs of GLBT people that can affect their career development and abilities to be successful in the workplace, as well as reviews effective career theories and specific career interventions that research has shown to be successful with GLBT individuals and groups.


Unique Needs
The unique needs of the GLBT population are an essential feature for consideration in the workplace. By recognizing these needs, appropriate vocational development can be facilitated by increasing support for these individuals. Datti (2009) reported that approximately 10% of people are gay or lesbian, which accounts for about 30 million or more Americans. Many of these individuals believe they are different, report feeling isolated, rejected, depressed, and experience shame and low self-esteem. These negative self-perceptions can lead to difficulties in developing one’s identity, as well as problems with vocational development.

Personal identity development, in relation to sexual orientation, is a key element in recognizing the needs of GLBT individuals. Across time, there have been social movements and attention toward increasing societal awareness of diverse populations; however, people who are not part of this population have a misrepresentative view of GLBT people. Badgett (1995) states that most heterosexual people view gays and lesbians as being well-educated, high-paid, affluent, and successful; therefore, any protection is seen as special protection, that only helps GLBT's advance farther than the average employee. Badgett argues that GLBT employees do not have access to many of the same rights the majority of employees are guaranteed, such as social and legal recognition of their family structure, and certain retirement and health care benefits. In fact, the GLBT population is the only known minority group in the United States who does not have federal protection from employment discrimination ("Laws Enforced by EEOC," 2010).

Chope and Strom (2008) note that transgender people are generally less willing to "come out" in part because they often risk high levels of discrimination and physical harm. Similarly, Griffith and Hebl (2002) focused on the dilemma that most GLBT people face in the workplace of whether to conceal or disclose their sexual identity. Griffith and Hebl hypothesize why some may resort to concealment. Individuals may not feel supported by their company or coworkers, and think that they would be ostracized if their sexual identity were revealed. Others may not see their homosexuality as being central to their identity, and therefore do not see a need to involve it in their work life. Lastly, they report that some GLBT individuals still struggle with self-acceptance and see themselves as inferior or flawed (Griffith & Hebl, 2002).

Badgett (1995) brings awareness to the limited rights of GLBT individuals compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Similarly, Clark and colleagues report that health care is affected due to fear of discrimination and stigma. GLBT individuals do not seek care for themselves or their families and avoid disclosing relevant personal information once in care (Clark et al., 2001). In order to eliminate barriers regarding care, change is necessary at the health care service system level, with increased cultural competence, skill building at the provider level, and the development of advocacy strategies at the consumer level (Clark et al., 2001).

Personal identity and sexual identity play a role in one’s development in the working environment. GLBT individuals experience discrimination and a stigma that has been difficult to show resilience. Social awareness has increased across time, however personal changes in views of the GLBT population continue to be an issue. The rights of GLBT and their heterosexual counterparts continue to be inconsistent, which bring about the considerations and unique needs of GLBT individuals.


Applications to Theory
The GLBT group has a long demonstrated history of being victim to a lack of theory and framework aimed at effective understanding and representation of the culture in the career development field. Career development theory has traditionally been geared towards heterosexual individuals and groups that are grounded in ideas and notions that discrimination does not exist with career opportunities. There have been several theories that have been explored in relation to how well they mesh with the GLBT population.

Chung (2003) noted the efforts made to look at the theories of Holland and Super to address the issues that are faced by the GLBT group. Despite the efforts, Chung also noted the hesitation for counselors to use traditional theories and interventions with the GLBT group due to the potential reliability and validity issues associated with this specific group. Gedro (2009) discussed Holland’s theory in relation to GLBT individuals . Through this research, gays were more likely to be represented in the Artistic and Social categories, when compared to heterosexual males (Gedro, 2009). While Holland’s theory can provide direction for different career goals, gay men are often discriminated against and stigmatized in those fields. This leaves a major gap in Holland’s theory as career counselors are also faced with the additional task of addressing the special and unique needs of gay men, as well as the GLBT group. Datti (2009) found one theory that has been utilized with some success with the GLBT group is Krumboltz’s Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making (SLTCDM). Examining the four factors including genetic endowment, environmental conditions, instrumental and associative learning experiences, and task approach skills, allows for a clearer understanding for the GLBT group. Genetic endowment and environmental conditions provide an opportunity for the GLBT group to explore different directions within the career field, while appropriately addressing the unique needs of this group. Datti (2009) illustrated through research that the SLTCDM allows for the GLBT population to explore all avenues of their career interests, while building off a framework that can facilitate positive experience for this population.

Another interesting theory that has been supported through research according to Schmidt and Nilsson (2006) is the Bottleneck Theory by Hetherington. Schmidt and Nilsson (2006) explain that the Bottleneck Theory emphasizes the dual developmental conflict for the GLBT population when it comes to sexual identity and career development. Both tend to occur at the same developmental stage and as such, create too much conflict for the individual to process at one time creating a bottleneck effect. This theory is starting to receive more attention as research is confirming the existence a developmental conflict for the GLBT group. There is very limited research to investigate the specific needs of bisexuals and transgender individuals and groups (Chung, 2003). Even with research geared towards gays and lesbians, there is virtually no empirical data and specific research designed for bisexuals and transgender (Chung, 2003). This poses significant issues for career counselors who are faced with an already discriminated population that has no to very little theoretical foundation to help guide counselors.

Overall, there is a great need for increased theoretical foundations for the GLBT population to aid career counselors. While current career development theories such as Holland, Super, and SLTCDM are used, there are still unique needs for the GLBT population that need to be implemented into the current use of theory and practical application. Hopefully, with future research, theories can be adjusted or created to identify and assist with specific groups.


Interventions
When working with a member of the GLBT population, it is imperative to become aware and educated about the issues that are unique to their career and vocational needs. Having knowledge of effective interventions ensures that the client is receiving information and skills that will aid them in better coping with their sexual identities, dealing with workplace issues, and obtaining higher job satisfaction. Not only are these interventions applicable and useful for GLBT individuals, they are also practical for employers looking to increase the awareness, sensitivity, and overall understanding of the GLBT community within their company.

Chojnacki and Goldberg (1994) focus on utilizing the Sexual Identity Formation (SIF) Model by Cass (1979, 1984). They present both the person and environmental aspects that need to be examined when career counseling LGB clients. The 6 stages of the Sexual Identity Formation Model include: 1. Identity Confusion, 2. Identity Comparison, 3. Identity Tolerance, 4. Identity Acceptance, 5. Identity Pride, and 6. Identity Synthesis (Chojnacki & Gelberg, 1994). As the gay, lesbian or bisexual (GLB) individual advances through these stages, they become more comfortable with their identity. This model is useful to career counselors because it increases awareness about the individual differences among GLB persons, knowledge of positive GLB identities, and the impact that individual differences have on career concerns (Chojnacki & Gelberg, 1994). By assessing the developmental stage of GLB individuals via the SIF Model, one can more effectively assess the type of work environment that best fits their needs. Services to GLB persons can be conceptualized within traditional career paradigms, but that awareness and sensitivity to GLB issues creates a new dimension of concerns to which career counselors must be responsive (Chojnacki & Gelberg, 1994).

Datti (2009) discusses the use of Krumboltz's Social Learning Theory of Career Decision Making to assist GLBT individuals during the counseling process. Counselors need to become knowledgeable about issues such as the coming-out process, minority status, cultural and family values, self-esteem, and identity confusion (Datti, 2009). Counselors are encouraged to communicate their acceptance of clients' sexual orientation, because GLBT individuals typically perceive less support and guidance in academic and career decision making when compared to heterosexual individuals (Datti, 2009). In addition to increasing a counselor’s education, simple advertising can enable an openness and acceptance to diverse populations including sexual orientation. Such advertising might be implemented by providing access to publications, websites, informational school bulletin boards, and interesting literature containing GLBT friendly messages (Datti, 2009).

As with any career development training, assessment measures are a beneficial tool that can be used to address issues related to career development of GLBT individuals. Datti (2009) states that assessment measures can provide understanding of the individual to ultimately aid in overall career satisfaction. GLBT career development can be viewed from a social learning perspective in creating friendly environments and providing appropriate assessments (Datti, 2009). Ultimately, GLBT individuals can make career decisions appropriately beyond just choosing an interesting occupation.

The use of role models is an effective intervention in career development and career choice; however, GLBT individuals have limited exposure to role models who share their sexual orientation. Exposing struggling members of this population to GLBT role models can help to eliminate inherent notions of homophobia, heterosexism, and sexism (Gedro, 2006). According to their research, GLBT individuals typically avoid occupations that hold stereotypes against gays and lesbians, however this can be diminished. Counselors can assist in expanding research and increasing the understanding of the importance of role models for GLBT individuals in relation to career development (Gedro, 2006). Another beneficial movement for counselors is to provide mentoring services, relationships and development training to support the unique needs of GLBT population (Gedro, 2006).

Those who are “out” at work have overwhelmingly higher levels of job satisfaction, commitment to their place of work, advancement within the company, and experienced much less internal conflict between their work and home lives. GLBT employees who reported high rates of satisfaction reported feeling supported and accepted in their workplace. Griffith and Hebl (2002) claim that organizational support is the biggest key to making homosexual workers feel comfortable in the workplace. They cited a method for employers to recruit and retain homosexual employees using the attraction-selection-attrition theory. The theory states that companies that want to bring in new gay or lesbian employees need to visibly and formally emphasize three things: representation of the minority in their company, corporate support of GLBT employees, and formal protective policies (Griffith and Hebl, 2002).

Overall, it is imperative that further research is conducted in order to meet the vocational needs of the GLBT population. While there is a necessity for research, it is also of importance to explore the use of rating scales and self-measures that are normed to include the GLBT population. While it appears that the ground has been broken for this type of research, no theory circumscribes all of the issues that the GLBT population faces in regards to employment and vocational development. As the next generation of career counselors evolves, it is crucial that the homosexual taboo is squashed and that issues regarding the GLBT population are faced head on.


References
Badgett, M. (1995). The wage effect of sexual orientation discrimination. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 48(4), 726-738.

Clark, M. E., Landers, S., Linde, R. & Sperber, J. (2001). The GLBT health access project: a state-funded effort to improve access to care. American Journal of Public Health, 91, 895-896.

Chojnacki, J. T. & Gelberg, S. (1994). Toward a conceptualization of career counseling with gay/lesbian/bisexual persons. Journal of Career Develpoment, 21, 3-10.

Chope, R. C. & Strom, L. C. (2008). Critical considerations in career and employment counseling with transgendered clients. In G. R. Walz, J. C. Bleuer & R. K. Yep (Eds.), Compelling Counseling Interventions: Celebrating VISTAS' Fifth Anniversary (pp. 125-135). Ann Arbor, MI: Counseling Outfitters, LLC.

Chung, Y. B. (2003). Career counseling with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons: The next decade. The Career Development Quarterly, 52, 78-86.

Datti, P.A. (2009). Applying social learning theory of career decision making to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young adults. The Career Development Quarterly, 58, 54-64.

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Gedro, J. (2009). LGBT Career Development. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 11(1), 54-66.

Griffith, K, & Hebl, M. (2002). The disclosure dilemma for gay men and lesbians: "coming out" at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(6), 1191-1199.

Schmidt, C.K. & Nilsson, J.E. (2006). The effects of simultaneous developmental processes: factors relating to the career development of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth. The Career Development Quarterly, 55, 22-56.

Laws Enforced by Equal Employment Opportunity Commision. (n.d.). In United States Equal Opportunity Commision. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/index.cfm