Up until recently, few qualitative studies have been conducted and very little is known about non-traditional talents. In this sense, this paper contributes to advance the state of our empirical understanding of nontraditional human capital, particularly LGBT expatriates in IAs.
Besides, the present study attempts to address some of the theoretical gaps in the extant literature on diverse human capital and innovation. Although an increasing number of MNEs began supporting the inclusion of LGBT employees largely due to the substantial social progress that has been made by LGBT activities in recent years, this is not simply because of moral and legal imperatives; rather, this is because of the innovation and productivity that MNEs can gain from non-traditional talents (particularly in this paper, LGBT expatriates in IAs). Therefore, the findings of this paper have implications for MNEs sending expatriates on IAs. Although all four LGBT expatriates reported successful outcomes in their IAs, it is also clear that many of them struggled with discrimination based on sexual orientation during the years abroad. Their angst is clearly articulated.
Discrimination at work has a profoundly detrimental effect on the MNE, contributing to low morale, reduced productivity, and high conflict (Barclay & Scott, 2006). Furthermore, innovation suffers when all talents are not valued. Therefore, discrimination against LBGT expatriates in the IA jeopardizes not only LGBT expatriates themselves, but also the entire MNE’s competitiveness and sustainability.
To reduce discrimination based on sexual orientation, first and foremost, MNEs should initiate and enforce zero-tolerance policies and practices toward sexual orientation discrimination. The ethical codes and guidelines on LGBT expatriates are part and parcel of IHRM policies. Beyond simply implementing policies and practices, more fundamentally, MNEs should create a diversity-friendly workplace environment. Training expatriates, including LGBT expatriates, is critical, because education fosters tolerance and acceptance (Vogt, 1997). According to Cox and Blake (1991), savvy MNEs are successful in embracing diversity and managing diversity properly; as a consequence, they enjoy greater innovation and productivity.