Diversity in Organisations


Social identity theory plays an important role in group formation, group membership, and group relationship. It is focused on the factors that can unite individuals in a group (e.g. motivation, correlation, and interaction). Social identity theory should be implied to the group members with the aim to identify their abilities to work in a team. In the current society, a researcher should consider all aspects of diversity such as race, gender, age, ethnicity, class, region, etc. In order to create an effective working group, organizational leaders and group members should find a way how to interact effectively regardless of their self-identities, backgrounds, and socioeconomic status. A thesis statement: in order to create an effective working environment, it is necessary to understand how social identity theory could be implemented in a diverse organisation. At workplace, a diverse working force might benefit from the workers’ differences in case if they keep their identities.

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Social Identity Theory

Social identity theory deals with the social psychological analyses of an individual who works in a group within an organisation. It observes group process and relations between the group members. It focuses on a number of interrelated concepts such as motivation, correlation, and interaction. Social identity theory is applied to the individuals who work in a group where they possess the abilities to interact with each other creating an effective relationship. The research asserts that individuals who are working as group members reflect self-conception of their values, abilities, and skills. The goal of the social identity theory is to define a group cognitively. A diverse population of the working groups empowers its members to evaluate others through their own identities. A sense of community and belonging to one organisation develop positive self-esteem among the co-workers. Those who felt marginalized in a work place may improve their self-esteem.

Many theorists had different views regarding the social identity approach in a group. For example, Karl Marx claimed that social forces determine individual behaviour. Nowadays, social identity theory is used to explain how people interact with within a group. Social identity analysis that focuses on group diversity explains the character of the intergroup relations in the course of socioeconomic relationship that shapes the group. Social identity theory helps people to identify them with other group members and those who are not involved. Although personal identity does not depend on the group processes, the group life often frames development of the personal identities and interpersonal friendships. Hogg & Terry argue that people have as many social and personal identities as there are groups they belong to and personal relationships in which they are involved. Furthermore, social identity is not a unitary construct. It has three separate aspects, namely centrality, in-group affect, and in-group ties. In-group ties, for example, reflect a sense of belonging to the group that defines the identity.

Social identity processes encourage group-members to compare themselves with each other. These comparisons force group-members to struggle for status, distinctiveness, and prestige. The combination of these variables generates different intergroup behaviours. The study has shown that people in a group try to gain psychological acceptance by the higher status group. People within a group are often threatened by the majority part of its members that forces them to struggle for their distinctiveness. Due to a diverse nature of people, the role of social identity theory is to manage the people in a group regardless of their race, age, gender, religion, etc.

Stereotyping in Selection

Stereotyping is one of the diversity relating problems in a varied organisation. The research asserts that diverse groups are less productive and effective because people who belong to different cultures have different self-identities. Thus, they may face difficulties in communication since they may speak different languages. Different levels of education can also be a serious barrier to establish friendly relationships. Minority group members often stereotype people with their cultural values. As a result, they often feel frustrated. This frustration can involve them in the serious conflicts. Therefore, managers who work with diverse groups should establish appropriate strategies to coordinate group relationships. Some employees may be stereotyped as lazy, stressful, emotional, rude, and untidy due to their ethnical or cultural peculiarities. Women are less associated with male bosses. Sometimes, a positive or negative view does not correspond to the reality.

From a social identity perspective, the norms often depend on stereotyping. For example, many people believe that the Blacks are more conflicting than the Whites. However, the practice in the work places denies this fact. Once a norm is recognized or established, diverse people in a group may be labelled with different negative or positive features. It is difficult to destroy stereotypes. Stereotyping can prescribe certain actions and behaviours. Typically, people in a group are less self-motivated than working individually. Stereotyping can destroy self-esteem and self-awareness. According to Heilman, stereotyping leads to racial and gender discrimination. While managing discrimination, it should be noted that diverse groups should be ensured that each member is an individual with own beliefs, ethical norms, and values.

Nowadays, the workforce consists of diverse individuals who have personal norms and values. Therefore, the diversity consists of visible and non-visible differences like background, personality, and those mentioned above. Hilton and von Hippel claim that personal identity varies from the social one. People may have low or high self-esteem, which prescribes them certain attitudes and behaviours. Stereotyping in selection can be a great mistake while hiring people. For example, people unconsciously stereotype obese persons as lazy and often do not want to employ them. This form of stereotyping negatively affects obese people.

Stereotyping by age or ageism is also a common issue in the workplaces. People of older age can be discriminated, which negatively affects the effectiveness of an organisation. Older employees are often more experienced, and an organisation can benefit from the abilities and skills of these people. Many developed countries have adopted the laws that protect older people from age stereotyping. Stereotypes involving race is another issue in the workplaces. For example, after September 11 attacks people from the Middle East are stereotyped as terrorists. 

Ethnical Stereotyping

In the current global environment, ethnical differences should be considered in performance appraisal. People from the diverse ethnical groups have their specific values and beliefs that construct their self-identities. Woods & West argued that organisational performance and outcomes would be advanced when people identify themselves with the other co-workers regardless of their ethnicity. Teamwork empowers a diverse working population to identify themselves with the people they work with. People who have different ethnicities could improve their self-esteem through organisational identification among other group-members. According to Moss, different ethnical groups of employees reported about unequal access to jobs and career opportunities. This approach to employees’ degree of organisational identification is risky with regard to creating biases in the workplaces.

Due to globalisation, the ethnic diversity in the workplaces has been steadily increasing. The research asserts that some managers neglect the interests and social identities of minority group employees. This unequal approach to minority group workers is observed through unequal opportunities in promotion, the feelings of uncertainty and lack of security in the workplaces. This attitude to minority group employees is the evidence of ethnical discrimination. The researchers suggest that becoming aware of ethnical discrimination group leaders should analyse this situation in a qualitative way. In order to eliminate ethnical stereotyping in the workplaces, the management should develop programs that would focus on the employees’ degree of identification.

A high degree of organisational identification allows managers to utilise human resources in the most effective manner. According to social identity, theory people categorise co-workers in different ethnical groups. In order to prevent ethnical stereotyping in the workplaces, organisational managers should satisfy their need for higher self-esteem. People from different ethnical groups should have an awareness of sustainability in an organisation. Jaspal & Breakwell noted that group participants, who belong to different ethnicities, often keep silent, which means that they are assigned to their in-groups. Admittedly, researchers have paid attention to employees’ degree of belongingness to their organisation.

Gender Stereotyping

Historically, repressive stereotyping of women was a matter of discussion for hundred years. Although, nowadays, stereotyping by gender seems to be eliminated, there are quite a number of instances reporting that stereotyping by gender is still present in many organisations. While the content of stereotyping may vary according to the country, frequent instances of women discrimination in workplaces identify a humiliation of women’s role in the society. According to social identification theory, all individuals should have a free access to career opportunities regardless of their gender. In some organisations, women should prove that they have equal rights with men. In the workplaces, women often are viewed as lees active, reliable, clever, and talented than men. These attitudes often build barriers between men and women in the workplaces. Traditions and backgrounds of group members who belong to different cultures and ethnicities often create stereotyping by gender.

The research asserts that gender stereotyping is present at leadership positions. Many authorities consider that women are less ambitious than men. Issues of gender stereotyping have become more obvious when gender identity becomes relevant in the workplaces. Different cultural groups overview this issue in accordance with their cultural beliefs and ethical norms. Thus, Muslim women do not see any discrimination in gender stereotyping and they easily agree with their position as wives and housekeepers due to their religion and cultural backgrounds. On the contrary, most European and American women struggle for the equal working positions and opportunities with men. Many women suffer from discrimination, prejudice, and other negative attitudes towards them. However, many studies suggest disconnectedness between experiences of unequal treatment and discrimination as well as general evaluations of the social relations, socialisation and degree of organisational identification.

In order to prevent gender stereotyping in the workplaces, it would be reasonable to involve training and orientation programs that could provide a mechanism to convey the organisation’s commitment to diversity and gender equity. These programs can have a powerful effect on communicating organisational norms, values, and expectations regarding diversity. In addition to training and orientation activities, a number of steps might be taken to make organisations more gender inclusive. Many experts consider that gender stereotyping can be reduced through open discussions and debate.

Limitations and Perspectives

Social identity theory involves an individual’s sense of belonging to different cultural groups. An individual’s self-esteem is based on both personal and group identity. Workplaces that do not have serious difficulties with cultural diversities have put much effort to rich this goal. However, cultural stereotyping is rather strong in the workplaces all over the world. Although most people used to live and work in a diverse environment, they often have prejudices to different cultures. Many scholars notice that people evaluate others through their identities regardless of their race, ethnicity, culture, gender, etc. Intergroup social comparisons involve an evaluative component. Peters reported that social identity theory has had a positive impact on the workplace diversity field and may offer success for the future. However, there are some limitations involved with applying social identity research to workplace diversity. 

According to the research, many laboratory studies were based on artificial group membership that has had little relevance to the organisational settings. Another limitation of the social identity approach is that it does not provide the effects of organisational diversity for the development of social relationship between the co-workers. Admittedly, conflicting results are present in a number of diverse workplaces regarding the role of a diverse population of people in the leading positions in some organisations. Some findings have shown that work group productivity, commitment, and perceptions of advancement opportunities were associated with group similarities in race, but not age or gender.

Many organisations do not understand a distinct difference between deep and surface diversity. Thus, they are not often available to protect their employees from stereotyping and strengthen their social identity. People in the workplaces are often reluctant to diverse group members concerning their identities. The study has proved that people within a group may be threatened by the majority of the group members that forces them to struggle for their distinctiveness. Due to a diverse nature of people, the role of the social identity theory is to manage the people in a group regardless of their race, age, gender, religion, etc. However, a diverse nature of workplaces encourages employees to struggle for their social identities, statuses and independence.

Diverse groups could be estimated as perspective groups because they should struggle for their social identity. Regardless of stereotyping, many ethnical, racial, gender, age, and other differences reinforce people to work successfully in a group. Evaluating others through their personal identities, they can improve their personalities, professional skills, ethical norms and beliefs. In order to solve diversity conflicts, people in a group should be ready for open discussions and debate. This activity could improve relationship and release tension between different in-group members.


The study has proved that social identity theory plays an important role in group formation, group membership, and group relationship. It is focused on the factors that can unite individuals in a group (e.g. motivation, correlation, and interaction). Social identity theory observes the ability of a diverse working population to work in a group. Although there are numerous difficulties, the organisational leader tries to implement effective tools to prevent discrimination and stereotyping in the workplace. Organisations that empower a diverse working population of people to work as a unique team are prone to gain the organisational goal and be successful. Despite there are some cases of prejudices and discrimination diverse working groups benefit over homogeneous. Regardless of stereotyping, ethnical, racial, gender, age, and other differences it reinforces people to work successfully in a group.

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