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Curiouser Science Lessons, No. 7: Coaching Supports LGBTQIA+ Clients

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Coaching supports LGBTQIA+ clients with safe spaces to disclose their identities

As Pride commences (a month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQIA+ folks), we were curious about how coaching could uniquely support LGBTQIA+ employees in their workplaces. Researchers Issome Ghama and Gordon Spence, a director of a coaching organization and a professor at Sydney Business School, respectively, sought to answer these two questions in their study:


  1. a) Are clients more likely to disclose their identities in supportive coaching contexts? 
  2. b) Does disclosing these identities lead to a more positive perception of the “working alliance,” (aka the relationship between coach and participant)?


The researchers leveraged vignettes to see how LGBTQIA+ employees would respond to hypothetical situations with coaches. They found that when clients felt supported and comfortable with their coaches (anticipating their support), they were less likely to conceal their identities. And those who did disclose their identities reported stronger relationships with their coaches. 


These supportive relationships are crucial, as the researchers discuss common challenges for LGBTQIA+ folks in the workplace, including lack of social support and fear of discrimination. Disclosure is an act of personal autonomy, and coaching provides employees spaces to practice being fully authentic and experience belonging within the safety of their coaching relationships. These strengthened relationships are also more likely to drive greater growth and behavior change for these participants.


This article was featured in Torch’s newsletter, Curiouser. Each month, we deliver the latest research, stories, questions, and insights about the art and science of coaching to your inbox. Sign-up and join a community of people who are passionate about growth, learning, and leadership.

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