Publication Date



Key Findings

  • Typically, relationship conflicts cause people to feel personally attacked and defensive, causing dissatisfaction among organization members who feel uncomfortable working among hostile coworkers (Jehn, 1994; Jehn, Chadwick, & Thatcher, 1997). Prior research has found that conflict can be particularly problematic in diverse groups. However, this research found that not only is relationship conflict less likely in gender diverse groups that have inclusive climates, but when such conflicts do occur, employees are better able to address the conflict in ways that don't demoralize group members. The results suggest that in inclusive climates employees may be more "integrating" conflict resolution styles, which enable team members to arrive at better solutions because they are characterized by a dual concern for self and others (Rahim & Bonoma, 1979).

  • In contrast, in less inclusive climates, people may be more likely to exhibit high concern for self but low concern for demographically different others and therefore adopt either a "competing" or "dominating" style, leading to patterns of conflict that are destructive for the group.

  • Finally, the results of the current study provide compelling initial evidence about the beneficial effects of inclusive climates. Employers can provide the opportunity for employees to develop more meaningful connections with diverse others provided they can help cultivate inclusive norms, and employees need to be aware that they co-create their climate. Teams that invest in a process of establishing connections and norms where divided perspectives are drawn out will benefit the most. Research implies that when groups have inclusive climates there's more learning and creativity.


Recommended Citation
Nishii, L. H. (2014, September). Controlling the climate: Inclusion can have positive impact on gender-diverse groups (CAHRS ResearchLink No. 3). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, ILR School, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.