How We Thrive at Work: Understanding the Needs of Minoritized Employees

Students and staff working at the METRICS lab and the Berger Institute over the summer were able to take part in a thrilling panel that discussed “How We Thrive at Work: Understanding the Needs of Minoritized Employees” led by four distinguished panelists: Dr. Alicia Grandey, Dr. Mikki Hebl, Dr. Enrica Ruggs, and Dr. Daan Van Knippenberg. 

Dr. Alicia Grandey joined the industrial-organizational psychology program at Penn State University in 1999. Her 65+ publications and book focus on performing emotional labor in customer service and workplace mistreatment in the diverse workplace, and her award-winning research is frequently cited by both scholars and media. Dr. Grandey highlighted how social movements over the past few years, such as the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movement have brought in emotions often unseen into the workplace. Dr. Grandey also discussed how women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) face more consequences for showcasing anger than their fellow co-workers. To combat this, she suggested that leaders do both self-work and reflection to understand these issues themselves, and that they create a time and space for these emotionally laboring conversations to occur. 

Dr. Mikki Hebl is a professor of psychology and management at Rice University. Her research specifically focuses on workplace discrimination and the barriers stigmatized individuals (such as women and ethnic minorities) face in social interactions, the hiring process, business settings, and the medical community. Dr. Hebl, in response to the question of how new employees can make change in the workplace, reminded the students that they are the future as the incoming workforce, and that despite not having organizational power as new employees, they should still act upon their eagerness to help minoritized employees. 

Dr. Enrica Ruggs is an Assistant Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion (CWDI) in the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis. In her research she examines individual, organizational, and societal factors that influence inequality in the workplace. Dr. Ruggs reminded students that both managers and employees can use empathy to diminish discrimination in the workplace. Dr. Ruggs highlighted how empathy is a powerful, research-backed tool for creating work environments where employees feel valued and are able to succeed.

Dr. Daan van Knippenberg is Joseph F. Rocereto Chair in Leadership at Drexel University. He was Editor in Chief of Academy of Management Annals, Founding Editor of Organizational Psychology Review, and Associate Editor of Academy of Management Journal, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and Journal of Organizational Behavior. Dr. Knippenberg reminded students that an organizational structure where employees have to hide their identities will make it difficult for those employees to thrive, as what we do is intertwined with who we are. While the work employees accomplish is important, the success of employees also depends on their levels of belonging and comfort in the workplace. 

Attendees were inspired by the panelists’ encouraging words and advice, and were thankful for this opportunity. Follow @bergerinstitute on Facebook and Instagram for future updates on events!