Whose Explanation of Inequality? Giving Voice to Underrepresented Groups Increases Fit Within Organizations

Cynthia S. Levine, Nicole M Stephens, Yulia Chentsova-Dutton

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

The underrepresentation of racial minorities is among the greatest challenges facing by organizations today. Here, we investigate the role that an organization’s explanation for this underrepresentation might play in maintaining it. We focus on the distinction between individual-focused and structural-focused explanations of inequality. Individual-focused explanations, such as those that focus on personal preferences, are prevalent in mainstream settings, whereas structural-focused explanations, such as those that focus on a lack of resources and opportunities, are prevalent among underrepresented groups. In two experiments, one in a real-world organizational setting and one in a hypothetical consulting firm, the current research demonstrates that structural-focused explanations of organizations’ inequality produce a greater sense of fit and acceptance among African Americans than do individual-focused explanations. This suggests that how organizations explain inequality plays a role in amplifying or reducing it.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages34
StatePublished - 2016

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