Honestly Hypocritical? Testing an Organisational Signalling Intervention to Increase Perceptions of Authenticity in Diversity Management

Marcinko, A.J. and Crisp, R.J.
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Abstract With workforce diversity steadily increasing, most large organisations now take steps to manage diversity within their ranks. However, employees are often sceptical of the sincerity of these efforts; is the organisation authentically interested in the success and well-being of its diverse employees, or is it primarily concerned with positive PR and legal defensibility? Building on previous findings that perceived organisational authenticity (POA) plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, two between-subject experimental studies were conducted to test a potential organisational intervention. Methods: In Study 1 (N = 91), participants were shown a D&I webpage from a fictitious university along with faculty demographic information. The webpage expressed that diversity was highly valued. However, the demographic statistics were relatively homogenous, representing a mismatch between words and actions. In the second “honest hypocrite” condition, one sentence was added acknowledging this mismatch. Participants responded to items measuring POA, organisational commitment, and organisational identification. Study 2 (N = 182) replicated Study 1 with non-student participants and a non-university manipulation. Findings: An independent-samples T test found that the “honest hypocrite” condition resulted in significantly higher ratings of POA in both Study 1 t(89)=2.43, p=.017 and Study 2 t(180)=3.66, p<.001. Further, as predicted, a bootstrapped mediation analysis found that POA explained the relationship between organisational hypocrisy and both commitment and identification in both studies. Discussion: These studies further support the under-researched importance of perceived authenticity in D&I initiatives. Additionally, in finding support for the efficacy of an organisational intervention, they offer valuable practical guidance for organisations and managers alike. Type Conference paper Publication British Psychological Society Social Psychology Section Annual Conference 2019
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