This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center

This study explored how transparent internal communication mitigated employees’ perceptions of workplace discrimination based on experiences (i.e., discrimination directed at the personal self) and observations (i.e., perceiving the presence of discrimination in the workplace). In this study, workplace discrimination is viewed as formal institutional discrimination that influences employees’ employment status, job assignment, and compensation. Specifically, the authors examined workplace discrimination based on employees’ race and ethnicity or physical/cultural characteristics. Transparent internal communication occurs when organizations provide employees with substantial, useful, and timely information and involve employees in decision-making.  The reserachers argued that when organizations practice transparent internal communication, workplace discrimination is more likely to be detected, challenged, and addressed. Furthermore, researchers discussed how workplace discrimination is related to perceived organizational justice and employee-organization relationships. They believed that high workplace discrimination would lead employees to perceive lower organizational justice (i.e., perceptions of fairness of treatment received from their organizations), which in turn decreases employees’ trust, satisfaction, and commitment with organizations.

This empirical study recruited 453 full-time employees who identified as racial/ethnic minorities working in a wide array of industries in the U.S. Specifically, 53.4% of the participants were Black or African American, 28.9% were Hispanic or Latino, 10.2% were Asian or Asian American, and 3.1% were American Indian or Alaska native. Among the participants, the majority was female (73.1%). The average age was 36, and approximately half of the participants worked in large-sized companies with more than 500 employees.

Key Findings
1.) Transparent communication can help cultivate a participatory, fair, and inclusive environment where substantial information regarding key career resources and performance evaluation is accessible to all employees, including racial minorities. Consequently, racial minority employees working in companies that practice transparent internal communication reported less experienced and observed racial discrimination at their workplace.
2.) When organizations engage in transparent internal communication characterized by participation, information substantiality, and accountability, employees report higher levels of justice in resource allocation, organizational policies, and information distribution.
3.) Transparent communication serves to facilitate a sense of belongingness among racial minority employees and is positively related to quality employee-organization relationships.

Implications for practice
Organizations should 1.) disseminate timely and substantial information related to career resources to all employees, 2.) be open to criticism and listen to different groups of employees, 3.) empower all employees to hold organizations accountable, and 4) ensure the procedures and processes related to resource allocation are conducted fairly.

Lee, Y., Li, J. Y. Q., & Tsai, W. H. S. (2021). The role of strategic internal communication in workplace discrimination: A perspective of racial minority employees. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 1-23.

Location of Article
This article is available online here.
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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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