In the 1950’s, American psychologist Gordon Allport posited that people with a prejudice against a certain group often overcame it when working with individuals from that group, a phenomenon he called “intergroup contact theory.” Since then, hundreds of studies have proven that contact theory is generally correct and have identified under which conditions it’s most effective. As a result, there’s now actionable guidance for managing teams in a manner that helps members overcome prejudice:
If you can’t meet all five of the above conditions, don’t worry. While the first condition, diverse composition, is essential for teams to promote greater inclusivity, the other four are not. In fact, research finds that even teams that fail to meet all or most of the bottom four criteria (but are still diverse) often reduce member prejudice, although not optimally.
As a leader, you can help free team members from their biases by applying contact theory. Its application won’t increase inclusivity in every instance, but it typically will. In sum, anybody who manages teams has the power to promote social justice.
Looking for assistance in making your workplace more inclusive? CSR Solutions of Colorado can help. Contact us!
Spark the Change Colorado, Community Shares of Colorado, B:CIVIC