Looking Beyond Our Similarities
How Perceived (In)Visible Dissimilarity Relates to Feelings of Inclusion at Work
- Onur Sahin, Jojanneke van der Toorn, Wiebren S. Jansen, Edwin J. Boezeman, & Naomi Ellemers
- 29 March 2019
- Frontiers in Psychology Article
We investigated how the perception of being dissimilar to others at work relates to employees’ felt inclusion, distinguishing between surface-level and deep-level dissimilarity. In addition, we tested the indirect relationships between surface-level and deep-level dissimilarity and work-related outcomes, through social inclusion. Furthermore, we tested the moderating role of a climate for inclusion in the relationship between perceived dissimilarity and felt inclusion. We analyzed survey data from 887 employees of a public service organization. An ANOVA showed that felt inclusion was lower for individuals who perceived themselves as deep-level dissimilar compared to individuals who perceived themselves as similar, while felt inclusion did not differ among individuals who perceived themselves as surface-level similar or dissimilar. Furthermore, a moderated mediation analysis showed a negative conditional indirect relationship between deep-level dissimilarity and work-related outcomes through felt inclusion. Interestingly, while the moderation showed that a positive climate for inclusion buffered the negative relationship between deep-level dissimilarity and felt inclusion, it also positively related to feelings of inclusion among all employees, regardless of their perceived (dis)similarity. This research significantly improves our understanding of how perceived dissimilarity affects employees by distinguishing between surface-level and deep-level dissimilarity and by demonstrating the importance of a climate for inclusion.