Original Research

Discrimination challenges and psychological well-being of black African queer employees

Nkosana Tshisa, Freda van der Walt
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 47 | a1835 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v47i0.1835 | © 2021 Nkosana Tshisa, Freda van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 August 2020 | Published: 19 April 2021

About the author(s)

Nkosana Tshisa, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Welkom, South Africa
Freda van der Walt, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management Sciences, Central University of Technology, Welkom, South Africa

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Orientation: It is known that black queer employees are exposed to various forms of discrimination because of their sexual orientation being different from the norm. However, because of societal progression in terms of equality and inclusivity in Africa, it is hoped that the discriminatory challenge has lessened and that black queer employees are now in a position to experience well-being. When employees experience well-being, personal functioning and organisational performance are promoted.

Research purpose: The purpose of the study was to investigate black queer employees’ experience of discrimination in the workplace, as well as their psychological well-being.

Motivation for the study: Previous research studies investigating black queer individuals were mostly conducted in a developed world setting and approached from a pathological stance. As a result of progressive societal changes taking place in Africa, it seems necessary to also conduct research focussing on this minority social group from a positive psychological stance.

Research approach/design and method: The study was qualitative in nature, and data were collected from nine black queer employees. The research strategy of phenomenology was used, because it reveals the lived experiences of black queer individuals around a specific phenomenon; for example, sexual orientation.

Main findings: The findings of the study show that although black queer employees did not report experiencing discrimination, there are still a number of discriminatory challenges to which they are exposed. The overall impression was that black queer employees are experiencing psychological well-being, despite the discriminatory challenges that they are exposed to.

Practical/managerial implications: Although much progress has been made in Africa to promote equality and inclusivity, more can be done to support black queer employees. Organisations should place more emphasis on wellness programmes, employee support programmes and health and safety initiatives, to promote a supportive working environment for black queer employees.

Contribution/value-add: The study contributes to the literature on the work experience and well-being of black African queer employees.


black African; queer; psychological well-being; discrimination; sexual orientation discrimination; sexual orientation


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