Prejudice is said to be one of the greatest problems in modern organizations and the most common form of discrimination. Once the seed of prejudice is planted in the team of employees, it starts growing until the team is split into two major groups, i.e., the dominant and the oppressed ones. In their article Reducing prejudice in organizations: The role of intergroup contact, out-group homogeneity, and in-group size, Hee, F., Finkleman, J., Lopez, P. D. & Ensari, N. explore the factors that induce discriminatory attitudes within a group of employees. The review results show that the given article offers a unique interpretation of the problem and nonetheless original means to solve it.
Sadly enough, prejudice in the workplace is still a major issue in a number of organizations. Discrimination among the personnel according to nationality, ethnicity, gender, etc. has been going on for a while despite the numerous attempts to solve the problem once and for all. Affecting the relationships in the workplace, prejudice in organizations need to be addressed, otherwise, the possibility for the fair evaluation of the employees’ work might finally dissolve.
In the given review, the article Reducing prejudice in organizations: The role of intergroup contact, out-group homogeneity, and in-group size by Hee, F., Finkleman, J., Lopez, P. D. & Ensari, N. published in the Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture, 2(2) in 2011 is going to be discussed. Taking a closer look at the study of prejudice among the personnel, one can possibly understand the problem better and provide reasonable solutions for it.
Needless to say, the purpose of the given article is to pin down the factors that cause prejudice in the workplace and seek the most efficient means to eliminate this prejudice, as well as prevent instances of discrimination among the staff in the future. The purpose of the article is rather easy to explain yet very hard to implement. According to Hee, Finkleman, Lopez & Ensari, the article aims at detecting the key factors enhancing prejudice in the workplace and developing a strategy to eliminate these factors, thus, solving the discrimination problem.
It is important to mention that the problem is far from being new; articulated in a relatively new manner, it actually roots back from the time when the idea of equality was not introduced yet into society. It is worth mentioning that prejudice in the workplace is not restricted to gender issues solely; according to the article results, there have been instances of discrimination and prejudice against such specifics as “race, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and ethnicity” (Hee, Finkleman, Lopez & Ensari, 2011, 39). However, though there have been a number of researches concerning discrimination or prejudices in the workplace based on a specific aspect, such as race/ethnicity (Hirsh & Lyons, 2010), gender (Saari, 2013), age (Ruggs et al., 2013), or sexual orientation (Kristin & Kanner, 2011), there have been relatively few attempts to consider the problem of prejudice as a whole. Moreover, there has never been an attempt to come up with a solution for prejudice in the workplace disregarding the focus of the discrimination. That said, the purpose of Hee, Finkleman, Lopez & Ensari’s article is quite unique.
Like any researcher that aims at a number of problems, the authors of the given article had a lot of work to do. Therefore, Hee, Finkleman, Lopez & Ensari obviously faced the threat of failing to deliver the precise answers to each of the questions that they asked at the beginning. However, much to the audience’s surprise, not only did they handle the task, but also managed to provide a foil for further research in the given field, presumably a practical this time.
According to the research results, the basic foil for prejudice in the workplace to develop is the lack of homogeneity in the group. The given statement is rather unusual; as a rule, diversity is valued very highly and is considered the bulk for developing trustworthy relationships based on equality among the staff. However, as Hee, Finkleman, Lopez & Ensari suggest, the diversity among the staff in the workplace creates a perfect foil for brewing prejudices and all sorts of conflicts among the personnel. As the authors explain,
In situations in which intergroup contact is limited, there is less connection between the self and outgroup members and, therefore, less opportunity to get to know them […] thus, we expect that majority group members exhibit stronger prejudicial attitudes than minority group members. (Hee, Finkleman, Lopez & Ensari, 2011, 41)
Therefore, the major discovery made by the authors concerns the correlation between the number of people in the group, the percentage of diversity, and the significance of the contact within the group. The researchers also introduce the notions of in-group and out-group homogeneity, thus, making it clear that prejudice also depends on the people surrounding the group in question.
The research results show that the number of people in the group correlates with the rates of prejudice in it. In addition, the second hypothesis concerning the quantity of contacts within the group as the possible way to reduce the rates of prejudice also proved right. “Because the Sobel test was significant and zero was not in the 95% confidence interval, we concluded that the indirect effect from in-group size to prejudice was significantly different from zero at p <.05” (Hee, Finkleman, Lopez & Ensari, 2011, 48). The hypothesis concerning the quality of the group contact as the key factor for prejudice was also supported. Finally, group values have also appeared to have a huge effect on forming prejudice against a specific group of people in the workplace.
One cannot act, however, as if the given article were completely perfect. It certainly has its limitations. The most obvious limitation concerns the experimental group; since it was impossible to consider all possible scenarios and consider personal factors, such as different tempers, in regard to the prejudice in the workplace.
Hence, the research is still very strong. Not only does it summarize the existing researches on prejudice in all its forms, but also provides the answers as to why prejudice-based discrimination takes place and, which is even more important, how to eliminate it. The given article can be related to the course as an overview of prejudice-based conflicts and the means to solve them by shaping people’s organizational behavior.
Disregarding all the drawbacks mentioned above, one must admit that the article offers a very decent account of the situation with prejudice in an organization, suggesting rather efficient means of fighting these prejudices as well. That said, though the article might have some problems with the statistical data or with the way in which the information is offered it still works as a whole, making the reader empathize with the victims of prejudice and, therefore, serving its purpose perfectly. What strikes me most about the article is, perhaps, the fact that the author addresses such issues as the quality of contact among the personnel. Assessing the ways in which the staff communicates leads directly to detecting the problems within the team and, therefore, their solution. A rather interesting approach should be undertaken in the rest of the cases with the problems among the staff as well.
Hee, F., Finkleman, J., Lopez, P. D. & Ensari, N. (2011). Reducing prejudice in organizations: The role of intergroup contact, out-group homogeneity, and in-group size. Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture, 2(2), 39–59.
Hirsh, E. & Lyons, C. J. (2010). Perceiving discrimination on the job: Legal consciousness, workplace context, and the construction of race discrimination. Law & Society Review, 44(2), 269–298.
Kristin, A. & Kanner, M. (2011). Inventing a gay agenda: Students’ perception of lesbian and gay professors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41(6), 1538–1546.
Ruggs, E. N. et al. (2013). Gone fishing: I –O psychologists’ missed opportunities to understand marginalized employees’ experiences with discrimination. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 6(1), 39–60.
Saari, M. (2013). Promoting gender equality without a gender perspective: Problem representations of equal pay in Finland. Gender, Work and Organization, 20(1), 36–55.