People Operations | Management

By: Editor | August 13, 2018

As this brief overview shows, the roots of prejudice are many and varied. Some of the deepest and most intensively studied roots include personality factors such as right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation, cognitive factors such as the human tendency to think categorically, motivational factors such as the need for self-esteem, and social factors such as uncharitable in group attributions for out group behavior. Research on these factors suggests that prejudiced attitudes are not limited to a few pathological or misguided individuals; instead, prejudice is an outgrowth of normal human functioning, and all people are susceptible to one extent or another. 

Yet there is also reason for optimism; when viewed historically, there is no doubt that many virulent strains of prejudice and discrimination are on the decline. Gone are the days of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, of legalized slavery, of lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan. Gone are the days when most women worldwide could not vote or hold political office. In many countries multiculturalism and diversity are more widely embraced than ever before, as evident from the soaring popularity of world music and international cuisine; of cultural history and heritage celebrations; and of greater civil rights for historically stigmatized populations such as people with disabilities, indigenous and aboriginal groups, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. 

In response to these changes, psychological researchers have increasingly turned their attention from blatant forms of prejudice to more subtle manifestations (Crosby, Bromley, & Saxe, 1980; Page, 1997). This shift in focus does not imply that traditional displays of prejudice have disappeared, but rather, that contemporary forms of prejudice are often difficult to detect and may even be unknown to the prejudice holders. 

Subtle Racism 

Since the 1970s, researchers have studied several interrelated forms of subtle racism (see Table 3 for an overview). The central focus of this research has been on White prejudice toward Black people, and even though each form of subtle racism has distinct features, the results have consistently pointed in the same direction: White people are most likely to express anti-Black prejudice when it can plausibly be denied (both to themselves and to others). 

Studies have found, for example, that Black job candidates and Black college applicants are likely to face prejudice when their qualifications are ambiguous but not when their qualifications are clearly strong or weak (Dovidio & Gaertner, 2000; Hodson, Dovidio, & Gaertner, 2002). Similarly, a study on obedience to authority found that White participants discriminated when selecting job applicants for an interview, but only when instructed to do so by someone in authority -- a situation that allowed them to deny personal responsibility and prejudice (Brief, Dietz, Cohen, Pugh, & Vaslow, 2000). In this rather disturbing study, roughly half the participants received a fictitious letter from the company's president saying:Our organization attempts to match the characteristics of our representatives with the characteristics of the population to which they will be assigned. The particular territory to which your selected representative will be assigned contains relatively few minority group members. Therefore, in this particular situation, I feel that it is important that you do not hire anyone that is a member of a minority group. (p. 80)

Participants who received this statement selected fewer than half as many Black applicants for an interview as did participants who received no such statement. The bottom line: under conditions of attributional ambiguity that allow people to appear unprejudiced, even "subtle" forms of racism can exact an enormous toll on racial minorities. 

Table 3. Forms of Subtle Racism 

NamePrimary CitationsDescription of Main Features
Kinder & Sears (1981); McConahay & Hough (1976); Sears (1988)Symbolic racists reject old-style racism but still express prejudice indirectly (e.g., as opposition to policies that help racial minorities)
Katz (1981)Ambivalent racists experience an emotional conflict between positive and negative feelings toward stigmatized racial groups
McConahay (1986)Modern racists see racism as wrong but view racial minorities as making unfair demands or receiving too many resources
Gaertner & Dovidio (1986)Aversive racists believe in egalitarian principles such as racial equality but have a personal aversion toward racial minorities

Category: Subtle Racism 

Tags: Subtle Racism 

By: Editor | May 20, 2018

The objects we call books aren’t the  real books, observed contemporary American essayist Rebecca Solnit. They’re the potential for one; the real book “exists fully only in the act of being read,” she  writes. So too with leadership principles: They only really exist if employees are thinking about them, saying them to themselves, bringing them up in conversation with colleagues. The principles have to get stuck inside their heads like a pop song. Drawing on the neuroscience literature, we realized that the right model would be pithy to the point of ready recall. (Simply put, the harder it is to remember something, the less it’ll be remembered.) Working with NLI, the Microsoft senior leadership team came up with six words t...

Category: Management 


By: Editor | May 17, 2018

Optimization is one of the most basic subjects in management and economics. Dynamic programming and Control Problem are powerful tools in related problem analysis. In management and economic problems in which variables are continuous functions of time, the optimization techniques are used. Managers need to know differential and partial differential equations in order to apply these tools. Multistate Decision Making and its Limits Dynamic programming can be regarded as a continuous aspect of Multistate Decision Making which, we also face this subject in management. Let assume that a firm engages in transforming a certain substance from an initial state A (raw material state) into terminal state Z (finished product state), through a five-st...

By: Editor | March 28, 2018

Employer-Unions’ Strategic and Systems Approach to Human Resources

Unions, like other organizations, operate in an environment of change. To be effective, and in some cases to even survive, labor organizations need to make wise strategic choices and then effectively implement the strategies chosen. And they must do this simultaneously in a number of different areas, including organizing, collective bargaining, contract administration, and political action.

Central to successful decision-making and policy implementation in all of the above endeavors are the employees of the union. While the term employer-union might sound contradictory to some, it has great meaning to thousands of people who are on the payrolls of labor organizations.


By: Editor | February 16, 2018

It can be quite exhilarating to be entertained by brilliant small business entrepreneurs elaborating on their vision for growth, expansion, and incredible profits. However, many of these commendable individuals fail to elevate their small businesses to the grand scale they were desirous of. Often, this failure is a result of the small business entrepreneur’s inability or lack of skills to transition the successful small business organization into a large organization which would entail sophisticated and complicated organizational infrastructure and operations.  Many of the largest, most successful and highly profitable businesses started as a family business (mom- and pop operation) or by a group of friends working in a back garage as...

By: Editor | January 27, 2018

In a community full of opinions and preferences, people always disagree. Employers should encourage active discussions and welcome heated debates on the services or products, but personal attacks such as bullying and harassment should be ground for immediate and permanent termination of employment of the offender. Zero tolerance is the best policy and practice to apply to such personal attacks in the workplace. The fallacy of Attacking the Character or Circumstances One type of fallacy is the personal attack. The argument concerning the attack of a person’s character or circumstances is characterized and shown to be sometimes persuasive but normally  fallacious. This fallacy occurs when someone refutes another’s i...

By: Editor | December 28, 2017

Treasury Guidance for 2018 Withholding Calculations Expected Shortly

H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the Act), was passed by both the House and Senate on December 20, 2017, and is expected to be signed into law on December 22. H.R. 1 includes several significant changes that are relevant to employers for payroll, employment tax and employee benefits purposes, and are generally effective on January 1, 2018. These provisions, as well as expected transition measures, are explained below.

Immediate Impact to Income and Employment Taxes

Although new federal income tax tables and rates will take effect on January 1, there may be a delay in release of withholding tax guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department for employers. In the meantime, the In...

By: Editor | September 21, 2017

Server Was Sexually Harassed and Fired After Complaining About Harassment and Racial Slurs Against African-Americans, Federal Agency Alleges

CHICAGO - Chicago company Rosebud Restaurants violated federal civil rights laws by subjecting a server to sexual harassment and then firing her after she complained about sexual harassment and objected to employees in the company referring to African-Americans by racial slurs, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, the EEOC's pre-suit investigation revealed that Tina Rosenthal, who worked as a server at Rosebud's now-closed Centro location, was subjected to sexual harassment by ...

Category: Retaliatory Discrimination 


By: Editor | September 21, 2017

Casino Violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by Refusing Time Off for Cancer Surgery, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO - Rivers Casino in Des Plaines violated federal law prohibiting disability discrim­ination by denying an employee's request for additional leave to get cancer treatment and then firing him, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to Julianne Bowman, the EEOC's district director in Chicago, the EEOC's pre-suit investigation revealed that Rivers Casinos wrongfully denied Donnan Lake's request for a reason­able accommodation of a few additional weeks of leave to have surgery related to his cancer. Lake suffers from sarcoma and has required chemotherapy and surg...

Category: Disability Discrimination 


By: Editor | September 18, 2017

Female GM Propositioned and Groped Young Male Employee, Federal Agency Charges

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill violated federal law by allowing a restaurant manager to sexually harass her subordinate and retaliating against him after he reported the misconduct, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. According to the EEOC's investigation, a 22-year-old male shift manager at a Chipotle San Jose store was forced to endure intrusive verbal and physical harassment by his female general manager. In addition to frequently discussing her own sex life and posting a daily "sex scoreboard" in the main office concerning all the staff's sex lives, the general manager ...

Category: Retaliation