Intergroup Contact at "Work"

By: Sean Darling Hammond  

Increasingly, the dogma in workplaces is that “Diversity Matters.” In a report by the same title, consulting giant McKinsey & Company reported that more racially and ethnically diverse companies have significantly higher profits. Silicon Valley consultancy Cloverpop recently found that more diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time. But can workplace diversity aspire for more than monetary payoffs? Can it reduce intergroup bias? In this presentation, I first summarize research into the “intergroup contact theory”—the theory that intergroup contact is generally associated with lower levels of bias. I then report results from three of my original studies regarding the pervasiveness, sources, and means of overcoming anti-Black bias. In the first, I analyzed 1,590,800 surveys of White individuals and found that anti-Black bias is pervasive across the United States and that individuals with lower levels of anti-Black bias generally have higher levels of contact with Blacks. In the second, I conducted regression analysis with controls using the geocoded General Social Survey and found that working with Blacks was generally associated with lower bias among White Americans in thousands of workplaces. Finally, in the third, I conducted a Propensity Score Matching to compare individuals who worked with Blacks with their “virtual twins”—individuals who had the same propensity of working with Blacks but did not. Using this approach, I estimated that working with Blacks causes a statistically significant reduction in bias. The study provides actionable insights about the of sources, and solutions to, intergroup bias.

Intergroup Contact Theory, Racial Bias, Workplace Contact, Workplace Diversity
Organizational Diversity
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Sean Darling Hammond

PhD Student / Instructor, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley, United States
United States

I am currently a Public Policy PhD student at UC Berkeley, but have also enjoyed prior careers as the Director of Research at a mission driven consulting firm and an Education Law attorney. I am currently pursuing three strands of research, scholarship, and service. The first is focused on k-12 public school discipline reform. I am working on using advanced quantitative methodologies to assess the effectiveness of California's Restorative Justice (RJ) programs and to identify the conditions under which they thrive. The second focuses on means of reducing interracial bias and distance be determining whether and when intergroup contact (in workplaces, schools, and other contexts) reduces racial bias. The third focuses on ways to improve criminal justice systems to ensure that decisions of judges and juries are not products of intergroup bias. I have published five articles in law journals. My most cited article provides research backed tips for improving law school pedagogy. I have also written articles for The Nation and Education Week. Outside of my academic pursuits, I have had the incedible fortune of being a competitor on NBC's American Ninja Warrior. There, I appear as "The Giving Ninja," and have donated every dollar I win to educational nonprofits.