White and minority employee reactions to perceived discrimination at work: evidence of white fragility?

Ng, Eddy S., Sears, Greg J., and Bakkaloglu, Muge (2021) White and minority employee reactions to perceived discrimination at work: evidence of white fragility? International Journal of Manpower, 42 (4). pp. 661-682.

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Purpose: Building on the notion of “White fragility,” this study aims to explore how Whites react and cope with perceived discrimination at work. Specifically, the authors explore whether: (1) Whites react more negatively than minorities when they perceive discrimination at work and (2) Whites are more likely than minorities to restore the status quo by leaving the situation when they perceive discrimination at work.

Design/methodology/approach: Data for this study were obtained from the Professional Worker Career Experience Survey. In total, 527 working professionals from multiple organizations across the central USA participated in the survey.

Findings: The authors find evidence that Whites experience more negative psychological effects (i.e. lower job satisfaction and higher work stress) from perceived discrimination than minority employees and are more likely to act to restore conditions of privilege by leaving their current job and employer. The stronger negative effects of perceived discrimination for Whites (vs minorities) were restricted to work outcomes (job satisfaction, work stress, turnover intentions from one's employer) and were not evident with respect to perceptions of overall well-being (i.e. life satisfaction), suggesting that White fragility may play a particularly influential role in work settings, wherein racial stress may be more readily activated.

Originality/value: Consistent with the notion of White fragility, the study’s results demonstrate that the deleterious impact of perceived discrimination on employee work outcomes may, in some cases, be stronger for White than minority employees.

Item ID: 64718
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0143-7720
Keywords: Work stress, job satisfaction, perceived discrimination, racial stress, white fragility
Copyright Information: © Emerald Publishing Limited.
Funders: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
Projects and Grants: SSHRC Insight Grant 435-2016-1227
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2020 08:17
FoR Codes: 35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350502 Employment equity and diversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910499 Management and Productivity not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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