Publication Date

1-2017

Abstract

[Excerpt] While overt expressions of racial and gender bias in U.S. workplaces have declined markedly since the passage of the original Civil Rights Act and the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission a half century ago (Eagly and Chaiken 1993; Schuman, Steeh, Bobo, and Krysan 1997; Dobbin 2009), a steady stream of research indicates that powerful, if more covert forms of bias persist in contemporary workplaces (Greenwald and Banaji 1995; Pager, Western, and Bonikowski 2009; England 2010; Heilman 2012). In line with this research, high rates of individual and class-based lawsuits alleging racial and gender discrimination suggest that many employees perceive workplace discrimination to be an important, continuing employment problem (Hirsh 2009).

Hence, to ensure workplace equity, prevent legal claims of discrimination, and/or rectify past and potential problems of bias, employers have implemented a growing array of organizational policies and practices aimed at reducing discrimination and increasing inclusion. Sometimes these efforts are voluntary; other times they are driven by specific mandates assigned to firms by courts as part of verdicts or settlements in cases involving charges of discrimination. Given the millions of dollars spent on making and monitoring such changes, surprisingly little evidence exists on the efficacy of various policies and practices adopted by organizations to address the problems and to capture the benefits of having a demographically diverse workforce. And even less evidence is available on the conditions that may moderate the impact of these policies and practices.

Within the past decade, however, a limited but increasing body of research has focused on gauging how different practices associated with the label ‘‘diversity management’’ actually affect outcomes for women and minorities in organizations. The aim of this special issue is to bring together contemporary research that builds on this foundation in order to extend our understanding of the current variety of organizational arrangements that are intended to reduce bias and to promote more inclusive workplaces

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Required Publisher Statement
© Cornell University. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation
Tolbert, P. S., & Castilla, E. J. (2017). Introduction to a special issue on inequality in the workplace (“What works?) [Electronic version]. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 70(1), 3-15. doi: 10.1177/0019793916675336