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Does the Job Matter? Diversity Officers and Racialized Stress

Race, Identity and Work

ISBN: 978-1-78769-502-3, eISBN: 978-1-78769-501-6

Publication date: 7 November 2018


Research indicates that work in predominantly white professional settings generates stress for minority professionals. However, certain occupations may enable or constrain these race-related stressors. In this paper, we use affect control theory to examine the identity dynamics present in professions that explicitly require workers to highlight racial issues. We might expect that occupations that require attention to racial inequalities could produce heightened stress for these workers. However, our research on diversity officers indicates that the opportunity to advocate for disadvantaged groups and address racial bias explicitly creates emotions of satisfaction and fulfillment, and removes some of the common pressures to manage negative emotions that arise as a result of cross-race interactions. Importantly, these emotions are achieved when minority diversity workers perceive institutional supports that buttress their work. Thus, our findings offer a more nuanced assessment of the ways professionals of color engage in various types of emotional performance, and emphasize the importance of both occupational role and institutional support.




This work was partially supported by the Army Research Office Grant W911NF-15-1-0180 to the third author, Lynn Smith-Lovin (subcontractor to Dawn T. Robinson, University of Georgia).


Wingfield, A.H., Hordge-Freeman, E. and Smith-Lovin, L. (2018), "Does the Job Matter? Diversity Officers and Racialized Stress", Race, Identity and Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 32), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 197-215.



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