Discuss the adverse impact of stereotyping in the workplace. Give detailed examples of various HR functions where stereotyping may occur. Examine the consequences of stereotyping as they relate to an employer’s exposure to liability.
It is easy to assume that stereotyping and discrimination in the workplace no longer exist. However, there is so much data that proves otherwise. A study by Harvard University and the Russell Sage Foundation from 1999 found that racial stereotypes and attitudes “heavily influence the labor market, with blacks landing at the very bottom (p.233).” They also found that “race is deeply entrenched in the country’s cultural landscape- perhaps even more than many Americans realized or are willing to admit (p.233).” Therefore, it is an ongoing problem that greatly impacts those at every level in the workplace. The first thing that comes to mind is negative morale. Stereotyping has the most direct and worst impact on the person being targeted based on race, gender, religion, or national origin and it could result in an unhappy, unproductive employee. It could also affect the morale of other employees who could potentially look at their coworker in a different light because of someone’s stereotypical comment. Stereotyping could also result in the best candidate for a position not being chosen. This person could have the highest qualifications of any other candidate for a job or promotion but be looked over because of a racial or gender bias on the part of the employer.
I believe the most common HR functions where stereotyping can occur are in recruitment/hiring and in compensation. Stereotyping in hiring was found when researchers sent out identical resumes in response to job listings in the newspaper with the only difference being the name. Those with “ethnic” names received 50% fewer callbacks than the others (p.277). In compensation, stereotyping is evident in that for every dollar a white male makes, an African-American woman makes $0.64 and a Latina woman makes $0.55 (p. 277). Women have always made less than men but it is an even more drastic difference when race and gender are combined.
Over the years since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, there have been so many cases where employers can see what is prohibited and why. The laws are designed to make an example out of employers who still blatantly continue to discriminate and stereotype. However, much of the discrimination now occurring in the workplace is not as overt as it was before Title VII (p. 279) and so it is not always easy to identify. An employer’s exposure to liability is extremely high in either case. If an employee decides to sue, the employer could face significant fines. To reduce their liability, all employers should constantly review policies and procedures to ensure they do not allow for unintentional disparate impact. Mangers could also take training courses on these issues so they can recognize biases in their own mind as well as quickly identify potential signs when stereotyping may be occurring in their workforce.