This study explored the relationship between workplace discrimination climate on team effectiveness through three serial mediators: collective value congruence, team cohesion, and collective affective commitment. As more individuals of marginalized groups diversify the workforce and as more organizations move toward team-based work (Cannon-Bowers & Bowers, 2010), it is imperative to understand how employees perceive their organization’s discriminatory climate as well as its effect on teams. An archival dataset consisting of 6,824 respondents was used, resulting in 332 work teams with five or more members in each. The data were collected as part of an employee climate survey administered in 2011 throughout the United States’ Department of Defense.
The results revealed that the indirect effect through M1 (collective value congruence) and M2 (team cohesion) best accounted for the relationship between workplace discrimination climate (X) and team effectiveness (Y). Meaning, on average, teams that reported a greater climate for workplace discrimination also reported less collective value congruence with their organization (a1 = -1.07, p < .001). With less shared perceptions of value congruence, there is less team cohesion (d21 = .45, p < .001), and with less team cohesion there is less team effectiveness (b2 = .57, p < .001).
In addition,because of theoretical overlap, this study makes the case for studying workplace discrimination under the broader construct of workplace aggression within the I/O psychology literature. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis found that workplace discrimination based on five types of marginalized groups: race/ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and disability was best explained by a three-factor model, including: career obstruction based on age and disability bias (CO), verbal aggression based on multiple types of bias (VA), and differential treatment based on racial/ethnic bias (DT). There was initial support to claim that workplace discrimination items covary not only based on type, but also based on form (i.e., nonviolent aggressive behaviors). Therefore, the form of workplace discrimination is just as important as the type when studying climate perceptions and team-level effects. Theoretical and organizational implications are also discussed.