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Article

Elissa L. Perry and Aitong Li

Although defined in numerous and sometimes inconsistent ways in the literature, diversity climate can be described as employees’ shared perceptions of the extent to which their organization values diversity as reflected in the policies, practices, and procedures that the organization rewards, supports, and expects. Diversity climate studied at the individual level (individual perceptions of the impact of the work environment on the individual’s own well-being) is referred to as psychological climate. When it is conceived of and studied at the group or organization level (employees’ shared perceptions of their work environment aggregated to the unit level), it is referred to as group- or organizational-level climate. Two consistent criticisms raised in recent reviews continue to plague diversity climate research. These can most simply be stated as a lack of clarity about what diversity climate is and is not, and inconsistency in how diversity climate is measured and aligns (or does not) with how it has been conceptualized. Despite these criticisms, there is evidence that diversity climate can positively impact individuals’ (especially minority group members’) work-related attitudes (e.g., organizational commitment, satisfaction) and unit-level outcomes (e.g., performance). As a result, diversity climate is both practically relevant to organizations and conceptually meaningful to researchers.

Article

The concept of aversive racism has had a significant impact on theory, research, and practice devoted to better understanding bias, discrimination, and persistent disparities based on social identity group such as race, gender, social class, and so on. Originally developed to better explain subtle forms of bias toward racial and minoritized groups, this concept has been extended to understand the impact of disparities in a range of diverse settings, such as intergroup relations, health outcomes, fairness in employment setting, intergroup conflict, educational outcomes, racial bias in policing, experiences of stress and mental health issues, and persistent economic disparities. A core facet of the aversive framework paradigm is that because of human biases that are deeply rooted within a historical context and reinforced by ongoing societal ideologies, unintentional and subtle forms of discrimination emerge and persist. Given that these subtle forms of bias and discrimination exist within otherwise well-intentioned individuals, strategies to eliminate them require understanding the complexity of the aversive racism phenomenon in order to develop effective social interventions. This article reviews the foundation, research, and impact of this important body of work. In addition, the concept of aversive racism is discussed in connection to emerging research on microaggressions and unconscious (implicit) bias in order to create a more integrated framework that can shape future research and applications. Lastly, practical implications for organizations and future directions are explored, such as using social identity as a theoretical lens, including global perspectives on intergroup bias and leveraging emerging work on intersectionality, as useful perspectives to extend the aversive racism framework. Setting a future agenda for research and practice related to aversive racism is key to greater understanding of how to reduce intergroup bias and discrimination through interventions that cut across traditional academic and discipline boundaries as one approach to create meaningful and long-lasting social impact.

Article

Discrimination is behaving differently toward people from different social identity groups, such as those based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, or some other category that is not related to the qualifications, contributions, or performance of the target group members. It is usually thought of as unfair and is often illegal. Discrimination has been the subject of substantial research in the social and behavioral sciences. It can entail acting more favorably toward those who have not earned it or less favorably toward those who have, although most of the research focuses on the negative behavior toward less favored groups rather than on the positive behavior toward more favored groups. Although discrimination can occur in many domains, this paper focuses primarily on discrimination in work and organizations. Research on labor market discrimination spans disciplines with most research being done in economics, sociology, psychology, and law, as well as in business or management. Such research has examined differences in access to jobs or employment including hiring and promotion, job rewards such as income and wages, evaluation of performance, treatment on the job from supervisors and coworkers, and unemployment or underemployment. Discrimination may be explicit or overt, but increasingly research has focused on more subtle forms of discrimination that reflect unconscious or implicit biases. Research also considers perceived discrimination. Research on discrimination has examined trends in discriminatory behavior or outcomes for various groups, comparisons across groups in terms of the extent or experience of discrimination, antecedents and the consequences of discrimination, as well as mediators and moderators of discriminatory behavior. Most research on discrimination has found that those from lower status or subordinate groups within any society are more likely to experience negative discrimination, while dominant group members almost always receive more favorable treatment. Although there are variations in terms of circumstance and context, native-born, heterosexual men from higher social classes and from dominant racial or ethnic groups are disproportionately found in the best jobs, with the most authority, and with the highest incomes, while women, racial or ethnic minorities, immigrants, those from working or lower classes, and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are more likely to suffer adverse discrimination. An increasing emphasis on the intersectionality of social identity recognizes that the labor market experiences of particular people reflect the combination of their multiple identities. Discrimination can be interpersonal, intergroup, organizational, and it can be embedded in structures and institutions.

Article

Despite the term being coined in the early 1990s, heteronormativity is a longstanding and enduring hierarchical social system that identifies heterosexuality as the standard sexuality and normalizes gender-specific behaviors and roles for men, women, and transgender and non-binary individuals. As a system, it defines and enforces beliefs and practices about what is ‘normal’ in everyday life. Although there are many factors that shape heteronormative beliefs and attitudes, religion, the government, education, and workplaces are the principal macro-level factors that normalize and institutionalize heteronormative beliefs and attitudes. These institutions contribute an outsize influence on the perpetuation of heteronormativity in society because these institutions create and inculcate the norms and standards of what are and are not acceptable values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors in our society. As such, in order to create effective interventions to eliminate the negative outcomes of heteronormativity, particular attention should be paid to each of these institutions. Parents, relatives, and other adults contribute to the normalization and institutionalization of heteronormativity at the individual- or micro-level. Although some people benefit from the system of heteronormativity (mainly heterosexual cisgender conforming men), much of the research on heteronormativity focuses on the negative outcomes. Heteronormativity is responsible for a host of pernicious outcomes such as lower self-esteem, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment, and greater rates of suicide ideation, verbal and physical abuse, and workplace mistreatment and discrimination. Future research should investigate identify effective micro- and macro-level interventions that could mitigate or eliminate the negative effects of heteronormativity.

Article

Isabel Boni-Le Goff and Nicky Le Feuvre

Professions or professional occupations have been studied through a large number of empirical and theoretical lenses over the last decades: as potential substitutes for organizations and markets, as protected labor markets, and as the site of the subjective experiences and socialization processes of their members. Combining a sociological and a gender perspective, a growing number of studies have shed new light on the growth and dynamics of professional occupations since the mid-20th century. They show how the massive entry of women into the upper reaches of Western labor markets has played a major role in the expansion and reconfiguration of the professions. However, by studying the barriers to women’s access to once exclusively masculine environments, scholars tend to show that the feminization processes coexist with persistent inequalities in income, promotion opportunities, career patterns, and access to leadership positions, popularized by the metaphor of the “glass ceiling” effect. These contradicting trends—numerical feminization and the persistence of gender inequalities—have inspired a large range of empirical research projects and conceptual innovations. This article distinguishes three ways of framing the gendered dynamics of professional and managerial occupations. A first way of framing the issue adopts a resolutely structural perspective, presenting feminization as a process that ultimately leads to the crystallization of traditional gender inequalities, thus confronting women with the risk of deprofessionalization or dequalification. Some of these studies observe variations in the rhythms and patterns of feminization across occupations. They reveal complex processes whereby the overall increase in women’s education levels comes with the persistence of gender-differentiated choices of study and occupation. Rhythms and patterns of feminization may also differ within a given occupation, from one specialty to another and from one type of organization to another, depending on the internal hierarchy of the occupation. Very significant gaps may also be observed according to employment status: wage labor or self-employment, for example. A second way of framing the question adopts an organizational-level perspective; showing, for example, that a “glass ceiling” systematically hampers women’s career progression in all sectors of the labor market. These studies explore the combination of direct and indirect discriminatory processes—from the persistence of “old boys’ networks” to the legitimation of certain gendered body images of professionalism—within different organizational and professional contexts. In the face of such resistance, women’s career progression is particularly slow and arduous, both due to the prevailing symbolic norms of leadership models and due to the collective strategies of closure by male professionals at the organizational level. Finally, a third way of framing the issue adopts a more holistic perspective, with a stronger focus on the agency of women within the occupational context and on the societal implications of changes to the gender composition of the professions. These studies insist on the potential or real changes that women may bring to the professional ethos and to the occupation-specific “rules of the game” in previously male-dominated bastions. Interested in the undoing of conventional norms of masculinity and fathering as well as of femininity and mothering, this third perspective explores a potential shift to more egalitarian gender arrangements at the organizational, interpersonal, and societal levels.

Article

Lynn R. Offermann and Kira Foley

Women have historically been underrepresented in leadership positions across private and public organizations around the globe. Gender inequality and gender discrimination remain very real challenges for women workers in general, and especially so for women striving for leadership positions. Yet organizational research suggests that female leaders may bring a unique constellation of leadership-related traits, attributes, and behaviors to the workplace that may provide advantages to their organizations. Specific cultural and organizational work contexts may facilitate or inhibit a female leadership advantage. Reaping the benefits of female leadership relies on an organization’s ability to combat the numerous barriers female leaders face that male leaders often do not, including gender-based discrimination, implicit bias, and unfair performance evaluations. Despite these challenges, the literature suggests that a reasoned consideration of the positive aspects of women’s leadership is not only warranted but is instructive for organizations hoping to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce.

Article

With an increase in the number of diverse groups of individuals (including ethnic minorities) entering organizations, managing diversity in the 21st-century workplace has become imperative. The workplace provides employees with opportunities to work interactively with others in diverse situations and to express their identities, including ethnic identity. Despite Western-based organizations’ adoption of strategies such as affirmative action in an effort to integrate diverse employees into their workplaces, members of ethnic minority groups may still experience great difficulties in obtaining instrumental and social support in these organizations. While some minorities may not outwardly manifest their ethnicity, in the majority of cases, ethnic identity forms a core identity of many individuals and employees do not leave this identity at the doorstep of the organization. In some countries, ethnic minorities have refused to assimilate into the majority workplace culture, and have maintained strong ethnic identities. By outwardly expressing their identities, ethnic minority employees face discrimination, stereotyping and micro-aggressive behaviors within the workplace, and in the majority of cases are relegated to dead-end lower level posts and face barriers to their career advancement. Also, having strong ethnic identities results in a conflict between minorities ethnic identities and the workplace culture. This is especially apparent in terms of religious beliefs and values. Embracing ethnic identity of migrants into organizational cultures is especially challenging for organizations these days, as many immigrants are highly skilled professionals that enter western corporations. They experience discrimination and not receiving support in order to advance their careers.