Team Differences, Inclusion and Job-Satisfaction

Katharina Graf, M.Sc student clinical psychology

Team Differences, Inclusion and Job-Satisfaction

Do you feel included in your team at work? Do you see more similarities or dissimilarities between you and your colleagues? Obviously, your answers to these questions will most likely influence your overall job satisfaction.

In this article we will focus on your dissimilarity or similarity in gender. From this we will derive your personal dissimilarity score. Following on from that, we will look at your perceived inclusion and job satisfaction and end with how the findings can be implemented. At the end of this article, you can see for yourself whether these factors impact your satisfaction or not.

Gender Dissimilarity and its Effect

Generally, dissimilarity in gender is the demographic difference most salient and noticeable. Assumed by the social identity theory, people’s self-esteem and their identity depend largely on the social network and the groups they identify with (Scheifele et al., 2021). Research suggests, that dissimilarity and inclusion are highly relevant for organizations and the job satisfaction of their employees. Beyond that, a moderate number of people dissimilar in gender, is linked with higher productivity of the team (Fine et al., 2020). Likewise, negative effects of gender dissimilarity on job satisfaction can become attenuated over time, as employees learn about similarities, which overshadow their differences (Elfenbein & O’Reilly, 2007). Similarly, belonging to the same team can shift the focus away from differentiating characteristics to form a common ingroup identity (Gaertner et al., 1993). This again reduces bias, produces a feeling of inclusion, and increase job satisfaction.

Nevertheless, social categorization of gender can lead to gender stereotypes and biases between groups, favouring one’s own group (i.e., the‘ ingroup’). Consequently, the members of the other group (i.e., the ‘outgroup’), are often judged as less likable and people prefer ingroup-interactions (Choi, 2007). In the context of gender, this means, the more dissimilar the colleagues, the worse their relationship with each other in the team (Joshi et al., 2011). This may explain why transgender, non-binary, and intersex employees tend to perceive themselves as less included compared to members of the majority (Chen & Tang, 2018). It is important to mention however, that this phenomenon depends very much on the degree to which the dissimilarity is salient or expressed in observable or verbal behavior (Sahin et al., 2019).  

Let us look at your own dissimilarity score. For this, we will use the formula introduced by Tsui et al. (1992). First, ask yourself what gender you identify with. Your gender will be coded as 0. Then, note your colleagues’ gender (Coding: Each colleague with the same gender as yours = 0, Colleagues dissimilar from your gender = 1.). Next, add the differences between your and your colleagues’ coding and divide the result by the total number of employees in your unit. The higher the score, the more dissimilarity present.

Do you feel like this affects your sense of inclusion or your job satisfaction?

Feeling included in a group refers back to one of our most basic human needs: The need to belong (Maslow, 1943). Beyond that, the level of perceived inclusion evidently predicts your job satisfaction strongly. Feeling included comes with the sense of being accepted and valued by your team members. This again positively influences your overall job satisfaction and productivity (Brimhall & Mor Barak, 2018). Diverse employees and the inclusion of every team member, is what makes an organization productive, innovative, and their employees’ satisfied.

The discussed research on gender dissimilarity, inclusion, job satisfaction, can benefit managers, organizations, and individuals in other leading positions, as it emphasizes the importance of inclusion. Interventions aimed at increasing inclusion can positively influence job satisfaction and productivity. This may even lead to less turnover and absenteeism (Spector, 1997). Accordingly, similarities between colleagues and team roles should be made salient to increase employee’s feeling of belongingness (Elfenbein & O’Reilly, 2007; Stouten & Liden, 2020).

How we implement these findings in our company:

To us, transparency is highly important. Therefore, we aim at being transparent with our customers as they should have the opportunity to see trough our processes. We not only produce the Woppie-Collection but also use the Woppie ourselves. Therefore, we can anticipate what our products should contain of and aim at designing them to match everyone’s needs. Every team member has their field of expertise, which makes our roles very salient. Our vision unites us, and our differences enhance our productivity. Meaning, we value everyone’s contribution and don’t draw boundaries between each other. Beyond that, we don’t draw a line between us and you as our customer, too. On the contrary, we explicitly invite you to send us your feedback and ideas on how to improve our products. We don’t see different groups, we see all of us, we see Woppiness, and you are included.

Do you want to get in touch with us and get more involved? We would love to read your thoughts, ideas or feedback!

Write us