Yeager, B., M.S., Northern Kentucky University Hernandez, L., B.S., Northern Kentucky University Pasqual, L., M.S., Northern Kentucky University Peterson, M., M.S., Northern Kentucky University Moberg, P. J., Ph.D., Northern Kentucky University

The goal of the present study was to (a) fill an existing gap in diversity research by developing a measure of attitudes toward the inclusivity in the workplace, (b) identify factors underlying this attitude, and (c) examine relations of emerging factors with related constructs to assess construct validity.

Lack of definitional consensus has characterized the construct of diversity, and is reflected in multiple conceptual interpretations. Shore et al. (2011) focused on diversity as symbolic attachment to a social group whereas Daya (2014) interpreted diversity as referring to group differences apparent within a broader society. Since the 1960s, the focus on diversity has evolved from legal compliance to avert discrimination to incorporation of race, ethnicity, cultural background, gender, age, sexual identity, physical abilities, values, etc. as beneficial assets to an organization (Derven, 2014). Downey et al. (2015) asserted that organizations must recognize the diversity of the contemporary workforce and must promote policies and practices that include individuals from all backgrounds to be competitive. Fitzpatrick and Sharma (2017) contended that evaluating the impact of inclusiveness initiatives involve observing organizational changes reflected in employee attitudes. Despite increasing recognition and importance of diversity and inclusion, our review of the literature has produced no instrument designed to assess employee attitude toward inclusion in the workplace.

Guided by research in educational settings investigating attitudes toward inclusivity (Mahat, 2008), we constructed 30 affective, cognitive, and behavioral items, then added 30 motivational items based on Motivational Needs Theory (Katzell & Thompson, 1990). We distilled this pool to 44 items that adopted a Likert response format ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). To assess convergent validity, we included measures of diversity perspectives (Podsiadlowski et al., 2013), diversity attitudes (Montei, Adams, & Eggers, 1996), diversity perceptions (Mor Barak, Cherin, & Berkman, 1998), and trait agreeableness (Templar, 2021). To assess discriminant validity, we included measures of multicultural identity (Yampolsy, Amiot, & de al Sablonniere, 2015), social dominance (Ho et al., 2015), and perceived discrimination (Triana, Wagstaff, & Kim, 2012). We digitally administered the aggregate scales to 247 undergraduates attending a midsized urban university in the U.S., 84 percent of whom were employed and participated in exchange for course credit. The final sample was reduced to 210 due to missing data.

To examine dimensionality within the inclusivity attitude items, we conducted an exploratory factor analysis using principal axis factoring with oblique rotation. Examination of the results revealed five interrelated factors with r ranging from -.48 to .58, p < .01. One factor was omitted for low reliability. Factor one (19 items, ? = .97, 51.6% scale variance) was labeled inclusive action. Factor two (4 items, ? = .88, 5.37% scale variance) was labeled inclusivity expectations. Factor 3 (8 items, ? = .86, 3.46% scale variance) was labeled aversive affect. Factor 4 (3 items, ? = .74, 3.34% scale variance) was labeled inclusive participation. To gain insights into construct validity, we examined factor relations with measures of four convergent validity constructs and three discriminant validity constructs. We also examined factor relations with external scale subdimensions (e.g., values of diversity, comfort with diversity, diversity perceptions, diversity attitudes, diversity coworker attitude, and diversity supervisor attitude. These analyses are complete but too numerous to present here.

We constructed the attitude toward inclusivity scale to assess individual affect, cognition, motivation, and behavior in response to growing organizational efforts to adopt inclusivity initiatives. The evidence produced suggests that inclusivity attitudes reflect interrelated dimensions of affirmative intentions and behavior (inclusive action), organizational expectations (inclusivity norms), avoidant discomfort (aversive affect), and proactive inclusion (inclusive participation). The evidence generated by this preliminary effort to develop an assessment of attitude toward workplace inclusivity is promising but will require a progression of additional steps. Our hypotheses regarding factor structure were partly supported. We predicted factors representing affective, cognitive, behavioral (intentional), and motivational (need) elements. The factors that emerged partly reflected these proposed dimensions in that they represented individual actions (behavior, Factor 1), expected organizational norms (cognition, Factor 2), discomfort and unease (affect, Factor 3), and affirmative inclusivity attitude (Factor 4). We did not find clear evidence of motivational need. Interpretation of the results is limited by the undergraduate student sample, which has insufficient work experience to allow the findings to be generalized to incumbent populations across organizational settings. The Items comprising shorter factors two, three, and four need to be expanded to adequately represent the apparent construct, and the somewhat speculative motivational need construct requires reexamination.

We believe that the present study provides preliminary evidence to support the continued development of an attitude measure focused narrowly on workplace inclusivity. Our objective is to provide a valid, reliable tool to enable organizations to assess incumbent attitudes toward inclusivity to more effectively design appropriate interventions to create an interpersonally healthy workplace.

Tags: Applied research, Basic research, Diversity and Inclusion in a Changing Workforce, Empirical study, Individual Factors / Differences, Organization- and Job-Level Environments and Practices, Social and Organizational Environment, Submission does not consider occupation or industry