060324 Wiethoff

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Enriching Team Competency Through Diversity Immersion Projects: 

Enriching Team Competency Through Diversity Immersion Projects Carolyn Wiethoff Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Kelley School of Business cwiethof@indiana.edu


Overview Motivation for the study Practical and theoretical background Mechanics of the project Hypotheses Methodology and measures Results Limitations Implications Future plans Discussion (throughout and at the end)

Motivation for the Study: 

Motivation for the Study Importance of teamwork in business careers Need for Indiana University students to experience diversity Personal desire for diversity-competent students Investigation of generational differences in prejudice

Team Competency in a Diverse Workforce : 

Team Competency in a Diverse Workforce Awareness –> knowledge and understanding –> behavior and action steps Understand how the dynamics of diversity affect organizations and their members Change individual behavior to effectively cope with those dynamics Avoid diversity-related problems Capitalize on diversity-related opportunities Be comfortable with difference

Theoretical Foundations: 

Theoretical Foundations Social Identity Theory In-groups and out-groups Identity and self-esteem protected by group membership Contact Hypothesis Proximate, cooperative interactions on an equalized basis with someone from an out-group minimizes prejudice toward the out-group Contact needs to be cooperative and pleasant

The Immersion Project*: 

The Immersion Project* 1: Identification of individual “discomfort groups” 2: Assignment to particular group 3: Reflect on current beliefs about the group (turned in for a grade prior to beginning the project) 4: Immersion activities (5 weeks, out of class/alone, oral updates in class) Interviews, lectures, books, movies, websites, meetings, events…. 5: Final written assignment in response to questions *This assignment developed and modified with assistance from the incomparable Rod Haywood

Additional In-Class Activities: 

Additional In-Class Activities Race-related ethics case (Harvard’s Jonah Creighton) Gender role differences case (Harvard’s Work Patterns at Ditto) Lecture/discussion of stereotyping and its related problems in organizations Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual course content View the Simpson’s Homer’s Phobia with discussion Guest speaker: Michael, bisexual and HIV-positive


Hypotheses 1: Immersion in a group will result in less prejudice toward that group 2: Immersion in a group will reduce reported prejudice toward other groups


Methodology Students in Z304, Honors “Managing Behavior in Organizations” (n=32) Business Honors Liberal Arts and Management Program Mostly first-semester juniors Measures (Week 3, Week 15, anonymous) Prejudicial attitudes toward lesbians, gay men, women, ethnic minorities Intrinsic/Extrinsic Religious Orientation Modern Racism, Modern Sexism All scales created/validated in existing literature

Groups Studied in Immersion Projects: 

Groups Studied in Immersion Projects Lesbians (n=6) Democrats (n=5) Evangelical Christians (n=5) Republicans (n=5) Gay men (n=4) Jewish Students (n=4) Latinas (n=3)

Results (ANOVA Time 1 v. Time 2): 

Results (ANOVA Time 1 v. Time 2) 1: Change in prejudice toward target group (only for students studying that group) Moderate (significant at p =.17, n=6) changes toward lesbians, no other changes noted Students studying evangelical Christians went in opposite direction (less tolerance), though results not significant (n=5) 2: Change in prejudice toward other groups (for all students) Change for gay men significant at p = .10

A Note on Measurement: 

A Note on Measurement Threw out traditional racism and sexism scales (no variance) Good variance on Modern Racism and Modern Sexism scales Good variance on Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Attitudes Toward Gays scales Added confidence in quality of study!


Limitations Small class size, single class Socially desirable responses? Variation in immersion -- Examples: Gay men: 15 quality research articles, 3 books, 1 movie, 1 phone interview Gay men: 14 face-to-face interviews, 3 books, multiple meetings of Out and Black Like Me, joined PFLAG, 3 movies, 2 TV shows Lesbians: 1 website, 2 interviews with IU employees (1 LGBT office live, 1 President of IU LGBT Alumni Association via e-mail)

Implications: In-Class: 

Implications: In-Class Classroom interactions matter! Most significant attitude change is correlated with classroom speaker Consistent with Contact Hypothesis literature: Class becomes an “in-group” accessible to visitors Interaction is viewed as mutually beneficial Face-to-face interaction is assured Instructor can model appropriate behavior Classroom becomes a “comfort zone” Probably need in-class experiences before individual immersion projects begin

Implications: Immersion Projects: 

Implications: Immersion Projects Immersion projects benefit individual students, as quotations from their papers indicate: “I believe this project has opened up my eyes to what is really behind many African Americans’ eyes, but I could have realized these things sooner if I would have just let down my guard and offered to spend more time talking with this group of individuals.”

Implications: Student Benefit: 

Implications: Student Benefit “Before starting this project, I had little understanding of Evangelical Christians. I had the stereotype of them as vocal activists who often stand on the corners of the campus handing out miniature Bibles and condemning abortion. Looking back, I feel ashamed I had pigeon-holed such a diverse group of individuals. They are definitely not the workplace horror I had imagined they would be.”

Implications: Student Benefit: 

Implications: Student Benefit “While my political views have not changed as a result of researching hardcore Democrats, my knowledge of these individuals has. No longer do I perceive these liberals as senseless, capitalist-hating fools, but rather as individuals whose logic is based on the desire for equality across America. Through completing this project, I have been able to start to climb out of my conservative, Midwestern mindset and make sense of left-minded thought.”

Implications: Student Benefit: 

Implications: Student Benefit “At its core, this paper deals with difference. At the beginning, I believed that my previous experiences, background, and personal character made me a very understanding individual. Through immersing myself into a group and topic I had very little knowledge of, I now know different. We all hold biases; it is what makes us different; it is what makes us the same. It is the interpretation and management of those differences that matters most.”

Future Plans: 

Future Plans Repeat study Fall 2006 with multiple classes More control: Some out-groups only explored in class, others only done in immersion projects Also measure confidence and competence in interactions (self-report and role play) Do second follow-up survey in following term Ongoing journals to investigate the process more thoroughly


Discussion What are your best practices to enhance students’ diversity competencies? How can we best structure classroom interactions with out-groups? What other measurement tools should we use in these investigations? What outcomes can/should we study?

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