CHAPTER 15Prejudiced Managers Hurt Employee Productivity—More by Neglect and Lack of Engagement Than Active Discrimination

Discrimination at the workplace can take many forms. It can target groups such as women or ethnic groups or older employees. Even if it is more subtle and not yet a criminal offense, discrimination can have a strong negative impact on the productivity of employees. The reason for this is surprising.

Social psychologists have developed a test to measure stereotypes, prejudices, or the tendency to discriminate. The so‐called implicit association test is based on the fact that the human brain associates two particular words more often with one another than others. For example, the terms woman and family are more quickly associated with each other than the terms man and family. The method for collecting the data for such associations is to have people confirm particular combinations of terms on a computer by pressing certain keys. The quicker the correct key is pressed, the stronger the associative links are between the two terms. Woman and family are far more quickly linked than woman and career, which says a great deal about the idea of women in our society.

The implicit association test can also be used to check whether stereotypes about certain groups prevail in working life and on the labor market. In a study involving Amanda Pallais of Harvard University, managers in a major French supermarket chain were tested with the implicit association test for how ...

Get Behavioral Economics for Leaders now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.