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Workplace exclusion in 21st C. America - not just 'boys' clubs' anymore?




AFP Technician Hussein Mourtada works next to journalist Roba El-Husseini from the Arabic desk on March 14, 2014 at the Middle-East and North Africa headquarters of the global news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) in the Cypriot capital Nicosia.
AFP Technician Hussein Mourtada works next to journalist Roba El-Husseini from the Arabic desk on March 14, 2014 at the Middle-East and North Africa headquarters of the global news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) in the Cypriot capital Nicosia.
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

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The hit show "Mad Men" helped illustrate what “boys clubs” were like in corporate America in the 20th Century.

The show's glass-ceiling cracker, Peggy, lost business opportunities by being excluded from her male colleagues' golf games, bathroom breaks, call-girl outings, and the like.

While many American industries are still dominated by Caucasian men, especially in management positions, other workplaces are more representative of America's urban demographics - including language diversity. Employees at these workplaces create different types of cliques, but with implications similar to those faced by Peggy.

In some offices dominated by women, the ladies’ washroom offers a space for junior employees to mingle with senior employees/employers, possibly gaining a special edge at the office.

Other workplaces have cliques based on language. Cliques of foreign language-speakers can spur the exclusion of colleagues who aren't fluent in those tongues.

A 2004 study focused on "language exclusion" in work teams. The findings, presented at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, indicated that workers who felt excluded when their coworkers spoke a foreign language liked their coworkers less and perceived their work team as less successful.

Have you ever felt ostracized or excluded at work due to your gender or ethnicity? Have you ever been part of group that excluded coworkers? What was the effect on the environment and productivity?

Guest:

Mindy Bergman, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Psychology, Texas A & M University