Working to Reduce the Effects of Discrimination: Identity Management Strategies in Organizations

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Abstract

Despite efforts to dispel discrimination, workplace discrimination still occurs. We introduce two classes of identity management strategies individuals use to mitigate the negative consequences of discrimination: identity switching (i.e., deemphasizing target identities and recategorizing to a more positively valued identity) and identity redefinition (i.e., stereotype reassociation and regeneration). Organizations adopting a color-blind approach may make it more difficult for individuals to use identity switching because the policies deemphasize differences in social identities. In contrast, organizations adopting a multicultural approach may make it more difficult for individuals to use identity redefinition. Multicultural approaches, applied superficially, may celebrate group differences that might actually reinforce culturally dominant stereotypes. We explore the likelihood that individuals will adopt each strategy given these organizational approaches to diversity. We outline steps organizations can take to reduce the need for identity management strategies and to facilitate identity management when necessary.

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