My Account

The Influence Of Diversity Factors On Individual Behavior

Length: 1420 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

The Influence of Diversity Factors on Individual Behavior

There are numerous influences that affect individual and group behavior in the workplace. A great many of these are external to the workplace, and include the influences of pervasive social forces that shape an individual's behavior from early childhood, such as religion, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status; physiological influences that impose both opportunities and constraints, such as age and gender; and the influences from life choices that individuals make, such as occupation and geographic location. The general question of "how does influence X affect behavior?" is too broad to address. This paper will examine four specific examples of the impact of gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation on behavior in the workplace, with the objective of illustrating the profound scope and influence of the elements of diversity.
Forming teams to solve specific problems inside of a company is common practice. What impact does the gender-diversity of the team have on its performance? Socialization of gender roles begins at very early ages, with men and women experiencing different socialization processes that result in different patterns of behavior. Girls are commonly taught to respect male authority, to act in a communal fashion, and to resist expressing aggressive or assertive behaviors. Conversely, boys are socialized to be aggressive and competitive. There are certainly modern trends away from these stereotypes, but there is still a common level of perception that the socialized behaviors from childhood persist in the workplace for adults (Karakowsky, McBey & Chuang, 2004). These early patterns of socialization and expectation setting have long-lasting impacts on the behaviors of adult team members.
Research shows that when the gender-orientation of a task is congruent with the gender of the performer, the perception of competence and the expectation of success are higher than when the task's orientation is not congruent (Dovidio, 1988). To some degree, this influence extends to the entire team; a team with a majority of women will expect to perform well on tasks with a "female" gender orientation (a heavily-social event, for example), whereas a male-dominated team will expect to perform well on a technical task. This has impact on team formation strategies, and may even act as a predictor of poor team results if a team's objective is not gender-congruent.
Religion is an enormously powerful and pervasive social force. Christianity, for example, places a strong emphasis on values, ethics, moral character, and charity. One manifestation of these attributes in the workplace is an employee's willingness to engage in organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB). OCB "are workplace activities that exceed the formal job requirements and contribute to the effective functioning of the organization" (Finkelstein & Penner, 2004, p 1). An employee who mentors a new employee while maintaining his or her own workload would be exhibiting OCB. Similarly, an employee who coordinates a company picnic without being paid extra for his or her services is also engaging in OCB. A study by Rauch (2002) examined the statistical correlation between Christian religious faith and OCB within the confines of a buffet restaurant chain in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Curiously, the results of the study did not show a significant correlation between Christian religious faith and organizational citizenship behaviors, even when carefully controlled for gender, age, and income level. Although it was not specifically a hypothesis of the study, an additional variable of the survey did show a statistically significant correlation between religious faith and job satisfaction.
By 2010, more than 51 percent of the US workforce is expected to be 40 or older (Microsoft, 2005). What impact does age have on the adoption and sustained usage of technology in the workplace? A 5-month study was done in the summer of 2000 among 118 workers who were being introduced to a new software system (Morris & Venkatesh, 2000). The results are unsurprising. Compared to older workers, younger workers found it easier to adopt and sustain usage of new technology. Research shows that as basic physiological processes decline with age, older workers are less effective at performing complex information processing tasks. There was also support for the idea that older workers have a more difficult time adapting to technological changes in the work environment, and seek refuge in more familiar approaches. Younger workers tend to be more focused on job-related outcomes and explicit rewards, and view technology as simply a means to achieving a desirable outcome. With technology becoming an increasingly important factor in gaining or maintaining competitive advantage, the impact of an aging workforce may have a medium-term negative impact on the US economy.
Sexual Orientation
One of the last pervasive human behaviors that is still unprotected by federal anti-discrimination legislation is sexual orientation. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) employees who have not disclosed their sexual orientation face significant challenges in the workplace, where a question as seemingly simple as "What did you do over the weekend?" can be embarrassing and uncomfortable to answer. A GLBT employee who is still "in the closet" may spend time and energy worrying about such conversations rather than focusing on work, may be seen as evasive by co-workers, and may have difficulty bonding into work teams (Turner, 2004).
Disclosure carries its own set of impacts. According to Blanford (1999) openly gay and bisexual men earn 22-32% less than heterosexual men; while curiously, openly lesbian and bisexual women earn 17%-38% more than heterosexual women. No causal explanation was suggested, though some correlations with the effects of labor-market strategies by lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers was noted.
This paper briefly surveyed four diversity factors – gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation – covering only a very small and specific example of how each factor impacts behaviors in the workplace. Even from this small sample, though, it should be clear that all of the elements of diversity, whether originating from social, physiological, or individual choice origins can have profound impacts on individual and group behavior. What should also be clear is that outcomes of such impacts are not always intuitive. It is tempting to predict, for example, that the impact of Christian religious faith on an individual would lead to engagement in organizational citizenship behaviors – that is, in charitable actions in the workplace. It is tempting to conclude that since openly gay men earn materially less than their heterosexual counterparts, the same handicap applies to openly gay women. Neither of these conclusions is supported by the data.
We are all shaped by a myriad of powerful influences that impact our individual behaviors. Gaining an understanding these influences, and resisting drawing "obvious" conclusions from only a surface understanding of each factor will make each of us a more effective manager and leader.

Blanford, J. (1999). Sexual orientation's role in the determination of earnings and occupational outcomes: Theory and econometric evidence. (Doctoral dissertation, Notre Dame University, 1999). Retrieved January 30, 2006 from University of Phoenix Library ProQuest database.
Dovidio, J.F., Brown, C.E., Heltman, K., Ellyson, S.L. and Keating, C.F. (1988). Power displays between women and men in discussions of gender-linked tasks: a multi-channel study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 580-587. Retrieved January 30, 2006 from
Finkelstein, M. & Penner, L. (2004). Predicting organizational citizenship behavior: Integrating the functional and role identity approaches. Social Behavior and Personality, 32, 4, p 383-399. Retrieved January 30, 2006 from University of Phoenix Library ProQuest database.
Karakowsky, L., McBey, K., & Chuang, Y. (2004). Perceptions of team performance: the impact of group composition and task-based cues. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 19(5), 506. Retrieved January 30, 2006 from University of Phoenix Library ProQuest database.
Microsoft (2005). Shifting workplace demographics and delayted retirement. In Aging workforce and accessible technology. Retrieved January 30, 2006 from
Morris, M., & Venkatesh, V. (2000) Age differences in technology adoption decisions: Implications for a changing work force. Personnel Psychology, 53, 2, 375-404. Retrieved January 30, 2006 from University of Phoenix Library ProQuest database.
Rauch, W. (2002). The impact of religious faith on organizational citizenship behavior and leader-member exchange. (Doctoral dissertation, Regent University, 2002). Retrieved January 30, 2006 from University of Phoenix Library ProQuest database.
Turner, S. (2004). Simple questions and awkward situations: The impact of the closet at work. Canadian HR Reporter, 17, 22, 10-12. Retrieved January 30, 2006 from University of Phoenix Library ProQuest database.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Influence Of Diversity Factors On Individual Behavior." 04 Dec 2016

Important Note: If you'd like to save a copy of the paper on your computer, you can COPY and PASTE it into your word processor. Please, follow these steps to do that in Windows:

1. Select the text of the paper with the mouse and press Ctrl+C.
2. Open your word processor and press Ctrl+V.

Company's Liability (the "Web Site") is produced by the "Company". The contents of this Web Site, such as text, graphics, images, audio, video and all other material ("Material"), are protected by copyright under both United States and foreign laws. The Company makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the Material or about the results to be obtained from using the Material. You expressly agree that any use of the Material is entirely at your own risk. Most of the Material on the Web Site is provided and maintained by third parties. This third party Material may not be screened by the Company prior to its inclusion on the Web Site. You expressly agree that the Company is not liable or responsible for any defamatory, offensive, or illegal conduct of other subscribers or third parties.

The Materials are provided on an as-is basis without warranty express or implied. The Company and its suppliers and affiliates disclaim all warranties, including the warranty of non-infringement of proprietary or third party rights, and the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. The Company and its suppliers make no warranties as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the material, services, text, graphics and links.

For a complete statement of the Terms of Service, please see our website. By obtaining these materials you agree to abide by the terms herein, by our Terms of Service as posted on the website and any and all alterations, revisions and amendments thereto.

Return to