Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Impact of the Structure of Ethnic Diversity in the Workplace

Enchautegui-de-Jesus, Noem`i, Diane Hughes, Kristen E. Johnston and Hyun Joo Oh. 2006. "Well-being in the Context of Workplace Ethnic Diversity." Journal of Community Psychology 34(2): 211-223.

In this study, the authors examine how ethnic diversity in the workplace affects the overall mental and psychological well-being of workers of color. As well as looking at the individual effects, this study looks at the topic of ethnic diversity in the workplace as important because
it reflects society's changing face of the American blue-collar worker.

This article defines diversity as "the representation of different social categories often based on gender, race, or ethnicity, in an organization"(212). Based on this definition, the authors examine two important concepts on ethnic diversity, which they base the study's hypotheses. One end of the cultural spectrum is tokenism, which is "a segregated work environment in which the minority group comprises less than 15% of the working group"(212). The other end of the spectrum is the concept of ethnic minority concentration, which is when a workplace has workers that are concentrated to one ethnic group.

The purpose of this study was to first, examine the psychological functioning, life-satisfaction, job satisfaction, and over all well-being of workers of color. Second, the authors wanted to test the differences between workplaces that had workers of color with a high ethnic proportion. The overallhyopothese was that a workplace that had a proportion of above tokien level of diversity and lower ethnic minority concentration, would create a better working environment, and in turn, a happier worker.

The researchers collected their data fron The Survey of Minority (MIDUS), which is a survey based on a stratified sample of men and women, ages 25 and older. The survey sampled African Americans and Dominicans in New York City, Mexicans in Chicago,andPuertio Ricans in both cities. Respondents were asked questions on their highest level of school completed, median income, years at job, and job position. Also asked was the ethnic composition of their workplace, whichethnicity's were dominant or sparse, and the worker's overall feeling of being a worker
of color in a low-wage job. Most respondents had only graduated from high school and their median income was $25,000-$29,999. 57% of respondents were immigrants.
Results of this study found that people who worked in a more balanced environment (no high or low levels of co-ethnic workers) reported a more positive level of job satisfaction than workers in a tokien or ethnic minority concentration environments.

The authors of this article felt that the topic of workers of color must be
looked at because people of color are overrepresented in low-paying,low-status jobs. Also, because the growing numbers of workers of color in America are changing the face of the U.S. labor force. The questioning of ethnic composition in the workplace is important for creating a positive environment for all workers and for understanding of the impact of the structure of workplace.

Future Research: As the authors suggest, there needs to be further research on this topic that expands to the topic of the ethnicity of employees at different levels, types of jobs, the working environment, and the quality of working relationships in low-wage, low-status jobs.

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