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Article
Publication date: 19 January 2010

Beth Kreydatus

The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of a significant group of retail employees, specifically the African‐American operations and service workers that…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of a significant group of retail employees, specifically the African‐American operations and service workers that worked behind the scenes in department stores during the Jim Crow era, defined here as 1890‐1965.

Design/methodology/approach

Department stores have rightly occupied a prominent place in business historiography. This wealth of scholarship can be explained partly by substantial archival resources, but especially by department stores' significance to US business, cultural, and social history. Yet, despite this rich historiography, a significant number of department store employees have been overlooked, and this omission has distorted the picture of the work culture and marketing strategies of these massive and influential retail institutions. Department stores employ a large number of operations and service staff, such as delivery people, housekeeping and maintenance workers, elevator operators, stock workers, packers, and warehouse workers. These positions make up roughly one‐fifth of all department store work. This paper presents a close study of the two most prominent department stores of early and mid‐twentieth century Richmond, Virginia – Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoads – to offer insight into the work culture and workplace experiences of these employees.

Findings

Ultimately, this paper shows that African‐American employees played an important role in the maintenance and image of Richmond department stores. Store managers place high demands for “loyalty” and “faithfulness” on their black staff to demonstrate their lavish services to the buying public. For black employees, this means that the work environment can be highly stressful, as they seek to meet competing demands from customers and co‐workers. However, department store work offers opportunities, in particular, steady employment among a close network of African‐American coworkers. Finally, the presence of segregated black employees undermines managements' attempts to convey their workforce as one “happy family.”

Research limitations/implications

The research is entirely based on two high‐end department stores, Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers, both based in Richmond, Virginia. Two store archives – available at the Valentine Richmond History Center and the Virginia Historical Society – are the primary resources for this project. Because, the papers in these archives are donated by store managers, a limitation to this study is the dearth of unmediated voices of the employees themselves.

Originality/value

This research adds to the historiography of department stores by shedding light on employees who are expected by employers to remain nearly invisible in their jobs, and unfortunately, have been fairly invisible in the historical record as well.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 2 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Book part
Publication date: 2 December 2016

Johann Maree

This paper examines the exercise of Black employee voice in South Africa over the past 53 years. Black workers constitute almost 4 out of every 5 workers in the country…

Abstract

This paper examines the exercise of Black employee voice in South Africa over the past 53 years. Black workers constitute almost 4 out of every 5 workers in the country and experienced racial oppression from the time of colonisation up to the end of apartheid in 1994. They are still congregated around the lower skilled occupations with low incomes and high unemployment levels.

The paper draws on the theory of voice, exit and loyalty of Albert Hirschman, but extends voice to include sabotage as this encapsulates the nature of employee voice from about 2007 onwards. It reflects a culture of insurgence that entered employment relations from about that time onwards, but was lurking below the surface well before then.

The exercise of employee voice has gone through five phases from 1963 to mid-2016 starting with a silent phase for the first ten years when it was hardly heard at all. However, as a Black trade union movement emerged after extensive strikes in Durban in 1973, employee voice grew stronger and stronger until it reached an insurgent phase.

The phases employee voice went through were heavily influenced by the socio-political situation in the country. The reason for the emergence of an insurgent phase was due to the failure of the ruling African National Congress government to deliver services and to alleviate the plight of the poor in South Africa, most of whom are Black. The failure was due to neo-patrimonialism and corruption practised by the ruling elite and politically connected. Protests by local communities escalated and became increasingly violent. This spilled over into the workplace. As a result many strikes turned violent and destructive, demonstrating voice exercised as sabotage and reflecting a culture of insurgence.

Details

Employee Voice in Emerging Economies
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-240-8

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Article
Publication date: 20 November 2017

Courtney L. McCluney, Courtney M. Bryant, Danielle D. King and Abdifatah A. Ali

Racially traumatic events – such as police violence and brutality toward Blacks – affect individuals in and outside of work. Black employees may “call in Black” to avoid…

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Abstract

Purpose

Racially traumatic events – such as police violence and brutality toward Blacks – affect individuals in and outside of work. Black employees may “call in Black” to avoid interacting with coworkers in organizations that lack resources and perceived identity and psychological safety. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper integrates event system theory (EST), resourcing, and psychological safety frameworks to understand how external, racially traumatic events impact Black employees and organizations. As racially traumatic events are linked to experienced racial identity threat, the authors discuss the importance of both the availability and creation of resources to help employees to maintain effective workplace functioning, despite such difficult circumstances.

Findings

Organizational and social-identity resourcing may cultivate social, material, and cognitive resources for black employees to cope with threats to their racial identity after racially traumatic events occur. The integration of organizational and social-identity resourcing may foster identity and psychologically safe workplaces where black employees may feel valued and reduce feelings of racial identity threats.

Research limitations/implications

Implications for both employees’ social-identity resourcing practice and organizational resource readiness and response options are discussed.

Originality/value

The authors present a novel perspective for managing diversity and inclusion through EST. Further, the authors identify the interaction of individual agency and organizational resources to support Black employees.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 36 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Hans-Joachim Wolfram

Modern prejudice was examined as a potential predictor of overestimating proportions of minority employees in gender-typed occupations. Strength of conjunction error was…

Abstract

Purpose

Modern prejudice was examined as a potential predictor of overestimating proportions of minority employees in gender-typed occupations. Strength of conjunction error was considered as an indicator of distorted perceptions of these proportions. Furthermore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate whether the association between modern prejudice and strength of conjunction error was weaker for gender-untypical than for gender-typical targets.

Design/methodology/approach

Modern prejudice was considered as a predictor of overestimations of black female employees in Study 1 (n=183) and black female older employees in Study 2 (n=409). Data were collected using internet-mediated questionnaires.

Findings

In Study 1, modern racism, but not modern sexism, was associated with greater strength of conjunction error when respondents were presented with gender-typical targets. In Study 2, using a sample scoring higher on modern prejudice than in Study 1, modern racism, but not modern sexism and modern ageism, was associated with greater strength of conjunction error, irrespective of target occupation. Furthermore, there was an unexpected association between lower sexism and greater strength of conjunction error for gender-typical targets, but not for gender-untypical targets.

Research limitations/implications

The findings lend support to the ethnic-prominence hypothesis in that modern racism, but not modern sexism or modern ageism, was associated with greater strength of conjunction error. Furthermore, empirical evidence suggests that target non-prototypicality can dilute the effect of modern prejudice on strength of conjunction error.

Originality/value

This is one of the rare studies examining attitudes and conjunction error in a work-relevant context, thereby bridging the gap between social cognition and applied psychology.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 36 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

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Book part
Publication date: 2 December 2016

Gilton Klerck

The paper explores the historical evolution of employee voice in Namibia from an employment relations (ER) perspective and in the context of institutional factors such as…

Abstract

The paper explores the historical evolution of employee voice in Namibia from an employment relations (ER) perspective and in the context of institutional factors such as labour legislation, trade union strategies, company policies and governmental regulations. The first part of the paper provides a brief outline of ER conceptions of voice that are manifest in the recent resurgence of interest in the topic. The next part traces the historical evolution of labour regulation and employee voice in Namibia. It is shown that, in the absence of collective voice and statutory protections, informal voice and occupational solidarity were the primary means of defence available to black workers against oppressive conditions. In the final part, an outline of some key features of employee voice in contemporary Namibia is provided. The analysis shows that systems of employee voice are fundamentally a manifestation of the balance of powers at a particular time and place. It is therefore crucial to link voice preferences and behaviours in the workplace to specific preconditions and to highlight the limiting factors that serve to constrain choice.

Details

Employee Voice in Emerging Economies
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-240-8

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1997

Magid Igbaria and Conrad Shayo

United States government statistics have shown that although women and minorities have made impressive gains in employment during 1980s, they continue to be…

Abstract

United States government statistics have shown that although women and minorities have made impressive gains in employment during 1980s, they continue to be underrepresented in positions of power and responsibility, especially at the senior management and executive positions. This trend has also been observed in the Information Systems (IS) field (Wilson, 1990). It has been reported that women and blacks encounter a glass ceiling that prevents them from reaching the top levels of IS positions (Johnson, 1990; Morrison and Glinow, 1990). A number of potential causes of this glass ceiling effect have been suggested:

Details

Equal Opportunities International, vol. 16 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0261-0159

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Book part
Publication date: 19 May 2009

Cheryl L. Wade

Why do so many African Americans get stuck near the bottom or at the middle of the corporate ladder? Why do so many continue to complain about discriminatory pay and…

Abstract

Why do so many African Americans get stuck near the bottom or at the middle of the corporate ladder? Why do so many continue to complain about discriminatory pay and promotion decisions many decades after the enactment of anti-discrimination laws? Law and economics commentators who have written about the issue of employment discrimination have failed to address the complexity of the problem of implicit bias and the effects of the frequently inaccurate heuristics used by some white workers when making judgments about their black colleagues. Economic theory without context is useless. But with context, law and economic analysis can help us understand and address specific problems like workplace discrimination that persist within corporate cultures because of an overestimation of the cost of anti-discrimination efforts and an underestimation of the gravity and likelihood of workplace discrimination.

In this chapter, I explore the economic and socioeconomic reality of African American low and mid-level corporate managers in order to capture a more complete picture of the costs of discrimination in the corporate workplace. I also explore the heuristic assumptions that are made about African American professionals and the effects those assumptions have on the black community. Finally, to understand the gravity of the harm to individuals, their families and the communities to which they belong, narratives about the economic and psychological harm caused by discrimination are essential. I offer the narratives of six middle managers and low-level professionals who faced discrimination in the corporate workplace to provide an important context about discrimination's real costs.

Details

Law & Economics: Toward Social Justice
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-335-4

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Article
Publication date: 27 April 2012

Donald G. Gardner and Diana L. Deadrick

The aim of this study was to examine the effects of employee race on the validity of commonly used selection procedures over three time periods after hire.

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2352

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study was to examine the effects of employee race on the validity of commonly used selection procedures over three time periods after hire.

Design/methodology/approach

Data on employee race, cognitive ability, psychomotor ability, and previous work experience, as well as objective measures of performance, were collected from 932 sewing machine operators in the USA. Performance data were collected over three time periods (nine months total) after hire.

Findings

Race moderated the validity of cognitive ability in predicting performance for all three time periods. Race did not significantly moderate the validity of psychomotor ability or previous work experience in predicting performance.

Research limitations/implications

This research is limited by the fact that only non‐complex jobs, and only women, were included in the study. Future research should attempt to replicate these results with a wider variety of jobs, as well as with the inclusion of men in their samples.

Practical implications

To ensure fairness, managers should examine effects of employee race on selection procedure validity when feasible.

Social implications

Employers have a moral as well as a legal obligation to ensure the fairness of their employee selection procedures. They should ensure that all of their selection procedures are free from differential validity based upon race, as well as other demographic variables (gender, age, disability, etc.).

Originality/value

This is the first study to examine effects of race on selection procedure validity over an extended period of time.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

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Article
Publication date: 21 August 2017

Theresa Hammond, Christine Cooper and Chris J. van Staden

The purpose of this paper is to examine the complex and shifting relationship between the Anglo American Corporation (Anglo) and the South African State (“the State”) as…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the complex and shifting relationship between the Anglo American Corporation (Anglo) and the South African State (“the State”) as reflected in Anglo’s annual reports.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper builds on research on the role of annual reports in ideological conflict. To examine the ongoing relationship between Anglo and the State, the authors read all the annual reports published by Anglo American from 1917 to 1975, looking for instances in which the corporation appeared to be attempting to address, criticise, compliment, or implore the State.

Findings

During the period under study, despite the apparent struggles between the South African State and Anglo American, the relationship between the two was primarily symbiotic. The symbolic confrontation engaged in by these two behemoths perpetuated the real, physical violence perpetrated on the oppressed workers. By appearing to be a liberal opponent of apartheid, Anglo was able to ensure continued investment in South Africa.

Social implications

The examination of decades’ worth of annual reports provides an example of how these supposedly neutral instruments were used to contest and sustain power. Thereby, Anglo could continue to exploit workers, reap enormous profits, and maintain a fiction of opposition to the oppressive State. The State also benefited from its support of Anglo, which provided a plurality of tax revenue and economic expansion during the period.

Originality/value

This paper provides insights into the ways the State and other institutions sustain each other in the pursuit of economic and political power in the face of visible and widely condemned injustices. Although they frequently contested each other’s primacy, both benefited while black South African miners suffered.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 13 November 2020

Sandra E. Cha, Stephanie J. Creary and Laura Morgan Roberts

Black people, as members of a historically underrepresented and marginalized racial identity group in the workplace, are often confronted with identity references …

Abstract

Purpose

Black people, as members of a historically underrepresented and marginalized racial identity group in the workplace, are often confronted with identity references – face-to-face encounters in which their race is referenced by a White colleague in a comment, question or joke. Identity references can be interpreted by a Black colleague in a variety of ways (e.g. as hostile and insulting or well-intentioned, even flattering). Identity references can derail the building of relationships across difference, but under certain conditions may open the door for deeper understanding and connection. The conceptual framework in this article delineates conditions under which an identity reference may elicit an initial negative reaction, yet, when engaged directly, may lead to generative experiences and promote higher connection and learning in relationships across difference.

Design/methodology/approach

This article builds theory on identity references by incorporating relevant research on race, identity, diversity, attribution and interpersonal relationships at work.

Findings

The framework identifies a common precursor to identity references and three factors that are likely to influence the attribution a Black person makes for a White colleague's identity reference. It then describes how, based on that attribution, a Black person is likely to respond to the White referencer, and how that response is likely to affect their interpersonal relationship over time.

Originality/value

By explicating how a single identity reference can have significant implications for relationships across difference, the framework deepens understanding of how race affects the development of interpersonal relationships between Black and White colleagues at work. In doing so, this article advances research on race, diversity, workplace relationships and positive organizational scholarship.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 40 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

Keywords

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