Diversity, equity and inclusion in employee-queer customer interactions in the hospitality service setting: including multiple stakeholders’ perspectives


Purpose: Drawing from cognitive dissonance theory (CDT) and attribution ambiguity theory (AAT), this paper aims to examine how employees interact with queer customers within the hospitality service and the ways that queer representations regulate emotions when discriminated against by normative gender roles. Design/methodology/approach: This study used a mixed method. Study 1 used firm-level secondary data to analyze hospitality firms’ efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and the effects on firms’ profit margins and customer satisfaction. In Study 2, an experimental design was used to understand how employees’ assailing behavior toward queer customers interacts with employee feelings of guilt and impacts their sabotage and organizational citizenship behavior via self-serving bias. Study 3 further explored how queer customer victimization interacts with stress to influence their perceptions of organization DEI authenticity and corporate social responsibility (CSR) through resilience. Findings: Hospitality firms’ DEI efforts were associated with varying outcomes, including higher profit margins but lower customer satisfaction, while guilt weakened the impact of employees’ assailing behavior on their outcomes and customer stress amplified the effect of assailing behavior on queer customers’ perceptions of DEI authenticity and CSR through resilience. Research limitations/implications: Hospitality organizations should take proactive measures to address self-serving bias among employees. Moreover, fostering an inclusive culture is crucial, with managers playing a pivotal role in facilitating discussions and creating an environment that values diversity, inclusivity and respect for all employees. Originality/value: The study makes a remarkable contribution to hospitality literature by focusing on CDT and AAT in providing valuable implications for DEI advocators to be aware of the tensions between heteronormativity and queer representations in service encounters.

Publication Title

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management