Tis the season of giving, a time of year when representatives from numerous charities position themselves strategically in front of retail establishments in hopes of getting a small share of the holiday cash flow. As our country continues to grow more diverse, the needs of our society increase. Meeting the needs of communities is the responsibility of not only every working man and woman, but also the companies that are supported by those communities. Although there are numerous studies exploring how diversity in the workplace affects productivity, little attention has been focused on how workplace diversity affects the community at large. To this end, Lisa M. Leslie of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota led a study that measured how an employee’s race and gender affects his or her likelihood to give back to communities through charitable donations.
Leslie looked at the giving differences between men and women, and also at differences by minority. She found that, overall, women gave more than men. When women outnumbered men in an organization, the men’s giving increased. Similarly, whites gave more than minorities, except when minorities represented the majority of employees. These results show that gender and race affect one’s willingness to give, at least within the context of a professional organization. They also show one of the many indirect benefits of workplace diversity. Rather than just enhancing and broadening the culture within the workplace, diversity can increase an organization’s financial impact on its community. “Whereas prior work indicates that community contexts spill over into organizations, we find that workplace contexts may spill over into the community through an association with workplace charity,” Leslie said.
Future work should look at how income affects charity. Leslie believes minorities could be less inclined to give because they may earn less than their white peers. Also, personality traits such as compassion could increase a woman’s propensity to give. These factors should be explored in more depth in future research. Until that time, Leslie hopes these findings encourage pro-social efforts aimed at increasing workplace diversity in order to improve internal and external responsibility.
Leslie, L. M., Snyder, M., & Glomb, T. M. (2012). Who gives? Multilevel effects of gender and ethnicity on workplace charitable giving. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0029943
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