Diversity & Minorities: Layered Risks of Discrimination

The Case for Extreme Minority Risk: A Layered Risk.

Traditional diversity research has focused on ensuring diversity in different dimensions: gender, race, and religion. Until now research has not been done to examine diversity of layered minority/diversity risks. The concern underlying this research would be individuals who have characteristics of minority status concurrently across all three dimensions. I believe people with layered minority status will be more likely to be discriminated against. This is a clear implication from idiosyncrasy theory. People, who have multiple minority factors, or higher perceived eccentricity, will be less tolerated. This means even if an employee is competent, if they more openly idiosyncratic, the more likely they are to be discriminated against and thought of as being a less competent employee. For example, a company may have healthy supply of muslims, but muslim women who wear their head dress, and pray 5 times a day in meeting rooms would face a higher discrimination risk.

People tend to tolerate certain dimensions of minority characteristics. People with layered diversity may face greater risk of discrimination. If this is the case organizations must pay greater attention to such individuals at risk.

One potential issue examining such individuals, who have higher risk, is that they may exist infrequently in organizations. Which itself may reflect subtle discrimination or more likely reflects the infrequency of such individuals in the population of geographic areas.

Despite this the performance and tenure of such individuals should be examined and given additional weight. For example if such an at risk employee has been doing a great job for years and suddenly is terminated due to performance reasons within the appropriate legal duration required to mitigate legal risk it is likely due to discrimination. As discrimination is subtle, and is person dependent and not corporate policy dependent, I think the courts should give benefit of the doubt to the employee in such cases even if the employer can produce statistics showing their processes or hiring and evaluating employees is not biased against protected classes across the single dimensions.

Nuanced discrimination can occur in companies with vibrant diversity programs. Due to reflexivity of risk people can learn to “game” diversity issues by transforming dislike of an individual into performance reviews and over time build a case against the employee.

A Case for Statistics of Extreme Discrimination Risk Distribution

As this layered discrimination would have small samples and may not be company specific, rare event statistics and statistics of extremes should be examined to see whether this can be applied in detecting such discrimination. In addition to determining how to apply this branch of statistics, cross industry studies should also be done to evaluate meta-analysis. For example it is possible that financial service industries tend to have a higher risk as they have poorer human relations policies as their core asset, unlike other
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