Challenges to Organizational Assimilation: Experiences of White Women and People of Color in the U.S. Workforce

By Suchitra Shenoy-Packer and Karen K. Myers.

Published by The International Journal of Organizational Diversity

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many firms operate with structural biases (Cox, 1994) which serve the traditional American worker—white men—but unintentionally disadvantage white women and people of color. This study examined the potential influence of structural bias on worker assimilation, framed by Van Maanen and Schein’s (1979) model indicating that workers assimilate by crossing inclusionary, functional, and hierarchical boundaries. Interviews conducted with 23 workers compared assimilation experiences of Caucasian males to Caucasian women and people of color. Among the findings were that women and minorities reported obstacles to crossing inclusionary boundaries related to workgroup adaptation. Non-native English speakers said crossing functional and inclusionary boundaries was impeded when native speakers paid little attention to their ideas. Women and minority workers said that Caucasian men were the only likely leaders in their organizations, an indication of difficulties to cross hierarchical boundaries. Caucasian males did not report experiencing these challenges and mostly were unaware of these obstacles for minorities and women.

Keywords: Organizational Assimilation, Diversity, Structural Bias

The International Journal of Organizational Diversity, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp.1-15. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 339.524KB).

Dr. Suchitra Shenoy-Packer

Assistant Professor, College of Communication, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, USA

My research focuses on the career discourses and identity politics experienced by traditionally underrepresented groups of workers. As an organizational communication scholar, I privilege voices of the disenfranchised employee and approach my work from cultural - critical and interpretive lenses.

Dr. Karen K. Myers

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA