Confronting bias: How targets and allies can address prejudice against gay men in the workplace
Hebl, Michelle R.
Doctor of Philosophy thesis
While many organizations have taken steps to protect minority individuals from the negative effects of prejudice and discrimination, such initiatives may be met with limited success. That is, prejudice and discrimination may remain major problems even with organizations who adopt organizational policies to enhance equity and reduce workplace discrimination. This dissertation examines the use of an individual-level strategy that individuals can enact in response to prejudice and/or discrimination, and that is the strategy of directly confronting the prejudice of their co-workers. This study examines the utility of confronting co-workers in the workplace with particular emphasis on the cognitions, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of third-party bystanders following witnessing a confrontation. I anticipated that the identity of the confronter (a member of the target group or an ally) and the level of conflict (high or low conflict) as well as the type of conflict (aggressive vs. calm, and personalized to the individual vs. generalized to society as a whole) in the confrontation would differentially impact outcome variables. Indeed, the results suggest that allies (versus targets) who confront elicit more positive behavioral intentions from observers to enact such strategies in the future; that high conflict (either aggressive or personalized) confrontations elicit more negative cognitions, attitudes, and behavioral intentions than do low conflict confrontations; and that targets and allies who confront have the most impact on third-party individuals if they utilize different strategies. Specifically, allies received particularly negative ratings when they confronted in an aggressive and personalized manner (compared to the other three strategies) and targets received relatively negative ratings only when confronting in an aggressive manner. These results held true in data obtained several weeks later. This research assesses the practicality of using confrontation as a prejudice-reduction tool and potentially informs future diversity management initiatives in organizations.
LGBT; confrontation; organizations; allies; diversity management