This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center


Concepts related to political correctness have begun to influence organizational policy. For instance, implicit bias training, designed to address inadvertent behaviors that could cause offense in the workplace, has been implemented in major corporations. Political correctness is a topic that generates controversy. As noted by the authors, the push and pull between free expression and avoiding causing offense could potentially influence creativity in organizations. Individuals may refrain from suggesting new approaches to problem-solving or decision-making, fearing that these novel approaches could offend. As organizations benefit by accessing creative solutions and ideas, understanding how to craft policies that guard against causing offense to different groups while allowing for access to new ideas would be highly beneficial. Therefore, the current study’s authors explored how corporate policies related to political correctness influence people’s perceptions of how welcoming an organization is to new ideas (i.e., creativity). Furthermore, they explored what elements associated with political correctness norms may promote or impede creativity in organizations.


The authors administered an online survey. Participants were required to be at least 18 years old and employed full-time in the private sector with a workplace that had a handbook governing workplace behavior. Approximately 21% of participants reported being African American, 5% reported being Asian American, 62% reported being Caucasian American, and 9% reported being Latino/Latina American. The remainder reported other ethnicity or did not report their ethnicity. Participants were also asked to indicate their preferred political affiliation. Approximately 47% reported being Democrats, 24% reported being Republicans, and the remainder reported being independent, other, or did not report political affiliation.

Key Findings

  1. Results showed that perceptions of policies promoting inclusiveness were positively associated with workplace creativity. This finding may reflect the assertion made by previous studies that political correctness norms reduce uncertainty.
  2. In contrast to the findings regarding inclusiveness, perceptions of organizational policies aimed at micro-aggression had a negative effect on the perception of creativity. Policing micro-aggressions may promote uncertainty concerning behavior. As the potential slights addressed by policies aimed at micro-aggressions are implicit rather than overt, individuals may question what behaviors constitute a micro-aggression. This ambiguity, in turn, could confuse and delay or eliminate sharing of novel ideas in the workplace.

Implications for practice

Organizations should 1) implement political correctness norms that promote inclusiveness and 2) consider how they address microaggressions which are still somewhat vague and can lead to employees feeling unsure about whether they are behaving correctly.


Henningsen, D. D., & Henningsen, M. L. M. (2022). Exploring the Effects of Policies Promoting Political Correctness in the Workplace. International Journal of Business Communication, 59(4), 583–597.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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