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

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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.

British Psychological Society Social Psychology Section Annual Conference 2019
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