IT Workplace Climate for Opportunity and Inclusion
Debra A. Major (Old Dominion University, USA), Donald D. Davis (Old Dominion University, USA), Janis V. Sanchez-Hucles (Old Dominion University, USA), Lisa M. Germano (Old Dominion University, USA) and Joan Mann (Old Dominion University, USA)
Copyright: © 2006
Our program of research is rooted in organizational psychology and employs a climate perspective to understand women’s experiences in the information technology (IT) workplace. An appropriate climate can help a workplace effectively attract and retain a diverse employee base (Miller, 1998). Climate consists of employees’ perceptions of workplace events, practices and procedures, including which behaviors are expected, supported and rewarded (Schneider, Wheeler, & Cox, 1992). Climate requires a referent to have meaning, and there is not a single climate within an organization. For example, there are climates for safety, innovation and customer service. Our focus is climate for opportunity and inclusion (Hayes, Bartle, & Major, 2002). Climate for opportunity is defined as an individual’s overall perception of the fairness and inclusiveness of the workplace in terms of the processes used to allocate opportunities and the resulting distribution of opportunities. Opportunities include hiring, assignments, promotions, pay, power, authority, awards and training. By creating an inclusive work environment, employers can capitalize on the benefits of diversity. Although definitions vary in this emerging literature (cf. Miller, 1998; Mor-Barak & Cherin, 1998; Pelled, Ledford, & Mohrman, 1999), most agree that inclusion means ensuring that everyone in an organization’s diverse workforce feels a sense of belonging, is invited to participate in important decisions and feels that his or her input matters. Exclusion leads to turnover, reduced organizational commitment and decreased job satisfaction (Greenhaus, Parasuraman, & Wormley, 1990). Moreover, prospective employees are more likely to be attracted to inclusive organizations (Powell & Graves, 2003). Our research suggests that three key factors predict inclusive climate: (1) good working relationships between supervisors and IT employees, (2) supportive coworkers, and (3) an organizational culture that supports balance between one’s work life and personal life (Major, Davis, Sanchez-Hucles, & Mann, 2003). In turn, IT employees respond to an inclusive climate with better performance, greater job satisfaction, heightened commitment and increased likelihood of remaining with the current employer and staying in the IT field (Major et al., 2003). In this article, we focus on the gender differences and similarities regarding IT employees’ perceptions of: (a) inclusion and climate for opportunity, (b) workplace relationships, and (c) satisfaction and commitment.