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Challenges of Stereotypes in the Workplace

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Employment
Wordcount: 2381 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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As a human we are not outlined to deal with mobocracy, that’s the reason we like our kind to follow certain guidelines, laws, and orders because our brain is computed and compiled to forge meanings when encountered with chaos. The repercussion of this behavior is that we can no longer see, understand or identify an object from the given set anymore, for us we have to have a whole organized set of objects to proselytize into something meaningful but not necessarily something based on reality. It can just be a context, built on a prospect based on either past experiences or assumptions. This important interceding cognitive process is called “Stereotyping”. To put it in simple words, “It’s a human propensity to treat another person in a certain way due to preconceived biased perceptions”. [1]

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Unlike Stereotyping, there are many debates over the definite interpretation of “Stereotypes”. The credit to first coining the term goes to Lippmann (in 1922) for using the term ‘stereotype’ in his book “Public Opinion”, but Brown (in 1997) illustrated and substantiated this term the most by setting its definition: “to stereotype a person, one needs to asses and attribute some common characteristics that are commonly shared by all or almost all of his or her fellow group members”. In regular workplace framework, this term broadly used to a set of assumptions about the characteristics, attributes, and behaviors of individuals of a specific group. For example, Brokerage Assistant should be a female as you can deduct from John’s post or as Cody mentioned that Auditors are organized, good conversationalist & excellent at multitasking. So meeting a person from these groups, an individual’s expectation is to see a female as an assistant in a brokerage firm or a top-notch work or conversation from auditors. For many, this is a normal human perceptive stereotyping process because just as we like to classify foods and drinks, we also like to classify or categorize people. Though people can be classified and categorized along countless dimensions, however, major differentiations are commonly made at workplaces, based on highly visible characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, and age. [2][3][4][5][6]

Currently, stereotypes in the workplace are distinctly different from stereotypes in a day to day life, especially due to the current limited globalized workforce which includes finite people from different nationalities, ages, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. A stereotype isn’t necessarily a vexation till it’s a part of perceptions but it surely becomes one when negative actions are taken with respect to those perceptions. An example of it is what Author Livingstone mentioned in the article named as “Pygmalion in Management”, that if a teacher has a perception about a child being slow or vice versa based on some stereotypes than the child will surely be one, not by default but because of teacher’s followed negative actions supporting or justifying his/her perceptions. The same concept is true between a manager and his team members too. In support of Livingstone’s examples, Dr. Kanter conveyed a similar message through her video, “A Tale of O” that stereotypes are indeed the byproducts of a continuous stereotyping process that can crop up in any work environment of any organization. As a conclusion of both, it can be assumed that it is stereotyping & conventionalizing that motivates one set of people in a given workplace to treat the individuals from other sets in an anticipated way, derived upon pre-opinionated beliefs based on bigoted notions related to that individual or group. [6][7][8][9][20]

Undeniably, stereotypes are assumptions made for a group of people and enforced on individuals due to their affiliation to that group without any regards to their personal traits but this does not construe that they are always unfavorable. Stereotypes can be favorable or unfavorable in a much broader sense, but if we look at stereotypes through the narrow frame of a workplace setting, is stereotyping productive? can it create a hostile work environment? The answer of these questions may differ due to unaccountable variables but is the process of stereotyping, calamitous? The answer will always be “Yes”. [9][10][20]

Analysis with Reasoning:

After analyzing most of the posts of fellow students and given works of literature, Stereotyping jumps out in front of me as a process in which people(X’s) holds an oversimplified, usually pejorative attitude towards those (O’s) whom they either want to ostracized or incorporate from/into the comrade camaraderie. It can either looked favorable (his perspective but not in reality) for O’s like David or straightforward unfavorable for O’s like Jarred & Kendrick, though all the cases are based on common stereotype “qualifications”. In David’s case, his team mates welcomed him because he was a good hockey player but they still racial stereotyped him insignificantly to his different nationality by passing jokes and putting him on the spot for being Canadian. Whereas, Jarred was unequivocally stereotyped as incompetent worker at CVS pharmacy and Kendrick was stereotyped as boisterous. Stereotyping is not something to be taken lightly. The process of biased individual categorization and generated stereotypes can be powerful and tenacious enough to impede leaders’ capabilities to process information and to make informed business decisions about individuals, groups, and business problems. For example, Rebecca was feeling ignored and scared at her accounting firm due stereotypes associated to her age and if leadership of a major firm doesn’t listen to the advice of a young female members because they don’t think young women belong in the workplace, this can put the whole organization at risk and creates blind spots. Stereotypes, which are overgeneralizations, can become the basis of defective reasoning and, ultimately, result in prejudice and cause harm to an organization’s effectiveness and culture. [1][9] [10] [11][12][13][14][15]

Stereotyping in a workplace not only hinders leaders’ perceptions and thought processes, but it also limits managements’ capabilities to make the best use of their employees’ skills. For example, Kayleigh’s upper management ignored her and her colleagues’ opinions because management viewed them as inexperienced and uninformed based on their age. Mark faced the same issue while working at Barnes & Nobles, his manager had lowered expectations of him based off of Mark’s age and the manager assigned menial tasks and small chores and didn’t capitalize on Mark’s unique experience and skills. Mark never had the opportunity to develop his other skills until he left the company due to boredom and a lack of opportunities to advance; all of this due to the manager’s stereotype based on Mark’s age. There is no denying that stereotyping affects leadership or management’s perceptions, but long term, it also blankets employees’ confidence, self-esteem, and overall productivity. Employees are more likely to resign from an organization if they believe that they are victims of stereotyping. Stereotyping blocks effective communication, hinders teamwork and alienates individuals and groups. It creates a perception of “us versus them” mentality where team members guard information, using it as a form of power, but it only helps promote a culture that supports discrimination or mistreatment. All of this results in a decrease in productivity and ultimately reaches the customer and can cause decreases in revenues. [1] [15][16][17][18][19]


In the current work environment, it is normal for people to classify or categorize other people as it helps them mentally organize things in order for their perceptions. Most people employ stereotypes to make decisions or build perceptions about colleagues, supervisors, and customers with little or no information about the individual. However, we all have one thing in common and that is we don’t like being the odd one out no matter what the environment is, especially in the work environment where blending in may mean the disparity between having or losing a job. It is very easy to categorize people but being on the receiving end is very stressful. Categorization of people in a workplace does nothing but increase turnover, absenteeism, and poor performance. [1] [10] [15][20]

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In conclusion, I would like to mention that, even though stereotyping is deeply rooted in nearly all the workplaces due to years of unsavory humor, racism, discrimination, and minimum exposure of different cultures or nationalities, I still believe proper training and zero tolerance policies can still limit its irreversible impacts on human behavior in a work environment. Organizations have to push these things in their culture, to be effective, efficient and productive and most of all retain its most constructive employees for a longer run. Leaders must pay attention to the presence of stereotypes in their organization and act to curtail its growth by setting behavior standards, discrimination policies, and procedures to encourage unbiased thinking and support collaboration and more than tolerance of individual identities. If they want to reduce stereotyping, leaders must lead by example and confront their own stereotypes and biases and act as they expect their employees to act. [1] [10] [18] [19][20]


  1. Week 2 – Perception & Attribution lecture video, Lecture Notes and discussion board
  2. Lippmann, W. (1922). Public opinion. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.
  3. Lepore, L., & Brown, R. (1997). Category and stereotype activation: Is prejudice inevitable? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(2), 275-287.
  4. John Reed posted Oct 2, 2018 8:15 PM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/339477/View?threadNavFilters=unread
  5. Cody Wopschall posted Oct 2, 2018 9:01 PM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/339489/View?threadNavFilters=unread
  6. B., P., N., S., & A. (2014, October 28). Stereotypes. Retrieved from https://econpapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20106
  7. Livingston, J. S. (2016, November 15). Pygmalion in Management. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2003/01/pygmalion-in-management
  8. T. (2010, May 21). A Tale of O Video on Diversity. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p56b6nzslaU
  9. Blum, L. (2004). Stereotypes And Stereotyping: A Moral Analysis. Philosophical Papers, 33(3), 251-289. doi:10.1080/05568640409485143
  10. Ankur Mishra posted Oct 17, 2018 3:42 AM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/341845/View
  11. David Dischiavi posted Oct 1, 2018 8:14 PM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/339236/View
  12. Jarred Rosenberg posted Oct 2, 2018 6:16 PM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/339436/View
  13. Kendrick Koslosky posted Sep 30, 2018 12:00 PM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/338937/View
  14. Rebecca Petrie posted Oct 2, 2018 12:33 PM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/topics/56875/View
  15. Cheryan, S., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2000). When Positive Stereotypes Threaten Intellectual Performance: The Psychological Hazards of “Model Minority” Status. Psychological Science, 11(5), 399-402. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00277
  16. Kayleigh Baker posted Oct 7, 2018 11:11 PM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/340214/View
  17. Mark Handfield posted Oct 1, 2018 8:23 PM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/339239/View
  18. Shaw, L. (2015, April 30). Understanding Perception Is Key To Communication. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lyndashaw/2015/04/30/understanding-perception-is-key-to-communication/
  19. Pfeffer, J. (2015, March 06). Shape Perceptions of Your Work, Early and Often. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2010/10/shape-perceptions-of-your-work
  20. Discussion – Ankur Mishra posted Oct 2, 2018 12:46 AM & (n.d.). Retrieved from https://kodiak.wne.edu/d2l/le/55916/discussions/threads/339292/View


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