Workplace Chemistry: Promoting Diversity Through Organizational Change

Based on her interest in addressing discriminatory work climates, Meg Bond has written a book entitled Workplace Chemistry: Promoting Diversity Through Organizational Change (2007, University Press of New England). The book summarizes a case study of a manufacturing firm undergoing a process of organizational change aimed at increasing diversity and fostering a work climate that supported the increasingly diverse workers. It traces the complex dynamics involved as organizations make a commitment to help all employees work to their fullest potential and to provide insights useful to others who share such goals.

Part of the research agenda in this core area is to encourage greater study of biased work climates among other researchers. here is broad recognition that the psychosocial environment at work can affect physical and mental health as well as organizational outcomes such as work performance and effectiveness. Past research across several disciplines has revealed that gender- and race-related factors such as values, biases, harassment, discrimination, and lack of support for work-family balance can affect physical and mental health. However, these features of the work environment have rarely been included simultaneously with the study of other workplace conditions. Thus, knowledge is still very limited about correlations among them, as well as about potential confounding and interactions. Associates at the Center for Women & Work at UMass Lowell, through a contract with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, developed a compendium of measures to aide occupational safety and health researchers interested in evaluating the role of discrimination, bias and work-family issues in occupational injuries and illness. The compendium is also of potential use and interest for other researchers interested in broader questions of the impact of workplace discrimination and bias.

To develop this compendium, researchers scanned the formal literature broadly to identify and summarize information on measures to assess the following domains:

  • racism and racial/ethnic prejudice
  • sexism and sexual harassment
  • gender and racial discrimination
  • work-family integration and balance
  • support for diversity in the workplace/workforce

The published compendium, is available free of charge from the NIOSH website and NIOSH is putting the compendium on line to make the measures even more accessible to interested researchers.