Effects of Writing about Egalitarianism on Perceptions of a Company’s Diversity

Kaitlyn Kulick Psychology and Sociology with a concentration in Human Services

Danielle Geerling Assistant Professor of Psychology, Ph.D

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Abstract

Diversity is an ambiguous concept and can be defined in various ways. In this study we examined how writing about egalitarianism affects how people perceive the diversity of companies with high numerical representation (demographics indicating a diverse workforce) compared to companies with high employee inclusion (diverse employees report feeling accepted). Data was collected from 174 undergraduate students (87.9% White, 75.3% female). Participants ranked six values in terms of personal importance. Participants were randomly assigned to write for five minutes about what role egalitarianism (or their top-ranked value) has played in their life. Next, participants rated the diversity of three hypothetical companies that varied in their level of numerical diversity and how accepted their employees feel. Results of a dependent samples t-test indicated that people ranked egalitarianism significantly higher than the average of the other five values. There was also a significant difference in company diversity ratings. Participants rated the high acceptance-low numeric company as significantly more diverse than the high numeric-low acceptance company. That effect differed depending on whether participants wrote about egalitarianism. Although the interaction effect was only marginally significant when people did not write about egalitarianism, there was no difference in how they perceived the companies’ diversity. However, when people wrote about egalitarianism they rated the high numeric-low acceptance company as less diverse than the low numeric-high acceptance company. The results provide a promising outlook for diversity efforts in helping people to look at employees’ feelings of inclusion.

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