Categories
Voices of our Nation

Critics of Peer Review Ask How ‘Race Science’ Still Manages to Slip Through

Two scientific papers in South Africa have raised questions among critics about the quality — and potential biases — of international peer review.

July 22, 2019 by Sarah Wild

As soon as Barbara Boswell began reading the journal article, the associate professor of English at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa says she was surprised about the language it used. Even the title and the abstract set alarm bells ringing, she recalled. “As I read further, I saw more problems.”

The controversial paper, “Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Colored South African women,” was published in March in the journal Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition following peer review. The authors, from South Africa’s Stellenbosch University, claimed to show “low cognitive functioning” in this group, which they attributed to low education levels and risky lifestyles. (In South Africa, “colored” is one of the four officially recognized racial categories — a relic of the apartheid system — along with white, Indian/Asian, and black African.)

In April, Boswell spearheaded a petition for the journal to issue a retraction. “The article is published as scientific research but draws on colonial stereotypes of African women, and ‘colored’ South African women specifically, as intellectually deficient,” Boswell and her co-authors wrote. “The article relies on flawed methodology and science, perpetuating harmful, racist stereotypes.”

More than 10,000 people, including scholars and ordinary citizens, signed the petition, which was ultimately successful: The journal retracted the paper on May 2. But this wasn’t the only recent scientific article in South Africa to face fierce criticism on its methodology and treatment of race. A second paper, also published in March in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, claimed to show that inhabitants of countries with lower IQs were more likely to be sold as slaves between the 15th and 20th centuries. Following an outcry, the co-author resigned from his position as an adjunct professor at the UCT.



Together, the papers raise questions regarding how such research made it through peer review, a process in which academics validate studies prior to publication. Peer review is considered by many researchers and academics to be the best quality-check for scholarship, but others point out that it can be flawed, opaque, and susceptible to bias.

Both papers were subjected to reviewers in internationally-published journals despite appearing to dabble in race science, which regards race not as cultural construct, but as a biological variable that can be used to make allegedly scientific conclusions about groups of people. Many experts consider biological notions of race to be largely debunked, making the appearance of such research in the global literature, where it can then be used to undermine the rights and dignity of entire communities, particularly problematic. “Scientific racism was used to justify racist policies like apartheid,” says Boswell. “It was used to make an argument about the inferiority of black people, indigenous people, and why they needed stewardship because they were not fully capable of looking after themselves and the land.”

The two papers show “how shoddy peer review can be at times,” says Agustín Fuentes, an anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame. “The ideal is good — great, in fact — but it does not always work out. I think that there are also a lot of biases about race and gender in the academy in general. And in too many cases those biases go unchallenged and result in things like these getting in to print.”


It has been 25 years since the end of South Africa’s apartheid government, which separated people based on race and often relied on flawed race science as justification, and the country still struggles with racial tension and systemic divisions that drive inequality. The academic system reflects these realties: White researchers still occupy half of all university posts despite accounting for just 8 percent of the population, and they publish about two-thirds of academic research.

Stellenbosch University, for instance, was mainly reserved for white students and staff under the Afrikaans-speaking apartheid government. The school has been attempting to address its racist past and transform its university body by increasing scholarships to previously disadvantaged racial groups, hiring more diverse staff, and switching from Afrikaans to English as the main medium of instruction. Eugene Cloete, the vice-rector for research, innovation, and postgraduate studies at Stellenbosch, says that the paper on colored women has set the university “back years.”

Cloete suspects there might be other published articles from the university with racist assumptions, and he is personally reviewing thousands of ongoing projects for racial insensitivity. Still, he says, some blame should lie with the journals. The paper “was published in an international, peer-reviewed journal,” he says. “We publish 1,800 papers a year here through thousands of different journals. We have to rely on peer review.”

Cloete and Boswell, along with other researchers, argue that peer review should have caught what they say is flawed research in the Stellenbosch study. The study’s authors, a team of sports scientists, assessed self-identified colored women from a township in the Western Cape. The sample size was limited, with just 60 women, but they extrapolated the results to apply to millions of people. The researchers also made assumptions about the group, identifying it as racially homogenous when it was actually diverse. And, based on a measure of cognitive ability that has been shown to be inapplicable to South African populations, the researchers made sweeping claims about the poor cognitive abilities of colored women in general.

“The study is based on ideological assumptions that are deeply rooted in a racialized and racist history,” says Garth Stevens, president-elect of the Psychological Society of South Africa. “Those assumptions are overlaid with a set of scientific methods that are themselves fatally flawed.” As a result, the generalizations about a particular population group “become spurious and a real indicator of poor science.”

Corresponding author on the paper, sports scientist Elmarie Terblanche, said she was not allowed to comment as the matter was under investigation.

The academic publisher, Taylor & Francis Group, confirmed that the article was peer-reviewed, but that editors retracted it after Boswell’s petition took off. When Undark asked the organization for comment, press coordinator Saskia Kovandzich said “I’m afraid that nobody is available to discuss this issue with you.”


While the Stellenbosch article was retracted, the one on slavery and IQ was not. That article, “Intelligence and Slave Exports from Africa,” was published by a team of economists in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics by Sage Publishing on March 28. The team claims to show that African countries where people have higher IQs experienced lower levels of slave exports than countries which had lower “cognitive ability.”

The lead author, economist Simplice Asongu, listed UCT as his institution on the paper, but he was an adjunct professor rather than a full staff member, says Elijah Moholola, a university spokesperson. And the university doesn’t stand behind the findings, Moholola adds: “UCT rejects the assumptions of the paper and this line of research as bad science.” Asongu has since resigned.

Sage did not respond to an interview request.

Like the Stellenbosch study, the methodology of the UCT paper came under scientific scrutiny. The paper claims to prove that countries with higher average IQs saw fewer inhabitants sold into slavery because they were smarter and thus better able to escape, confront enslavers, and organize resistance.

Asongu and his co-author, Oasis Kodila-Tedika, an economist at the University of Kinshasa, show this through linking, among other variables, countries’ IQ; their capacity for technology adaptation, inferred from previous research; the landscape’s ruggedness; and historical population density.

The authors assume most types of intelligence can be captured through IQ tests. But the idea that it is possible to determine the cognitive ability of entire countries is problematic, says Adam Haupt, a professor in media studies, who specializes in race discourse. He points out that there is plenty of research showing IQ tests can be inaccurate and unfair. “There’s a cultural and ideological bias embedded in those tests,” Haupt says. “Science is seen as non-ideological, but we know that’s not true.”

When Undark contacted Asongu for comment, he said he wouldn’t discuss the matter through non-scientific media, adding: “Anybody questioning the robustness of the findings should have his or her comments peer-reviewed and published in a scientific medium, then I will also respond through the same scientific medium or other scientific media.”

But peer review is part of the problem. “If it was a predatory journal” — a journal which charges researchers to publish, but doesn’t offer rigorous services such as peer review — “then you’d understand it,” says Haupt. But “Sage is a reputable publisher. It has you asking questions about their peer review process. All of the supposed safeguards fell flat. Why did editors not ask how sound was this methodological approach? How much do we know about IQ?”


It remains unclear why, exactly, the papers from Stellenbosch and UCT made it through peer review. “A charitable interpretation would be laziness and genuine oversight on the part of the reviewers,” says Angela Saini, a science journalist and author of “Superior: The Return of Race Science,” a new book on the resurgence of race science since it fell out of favor following World War II.

“A less charitable one is that they let this through because they share with the authors some commitment to the idea of biological race — an idea long ago discredited by mainstream scientists,” she adds. “Either way, the system must be flawed in some way or this wouldn’t have happened.”

Regardless of the reason why, it’s common for faulty papers to slip through peer review, says Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, a watchdog publication for scientific publishing. “There are 1,400 retractions per year, and there are others that should be retracted but aren’t,” he says. “Peer review is a porous system.”

Recent reports reveal that system is under pressure. A 2016 study in PlosOne, looking at biomedical research, found that the responsibility for peer review is concentrated in the hands of a few reviewers. At the same time, the volume of scholarship requiring peer review continues to increase at about 3 to 3.5 percent each year. And there is also bias when it comes to who gets to be a peer reviewer. In its Global State of Peer Review 2018 report, for instance, the peer-review tracking website Publons found that established regions review more than emerging regions; in fact, there was not an African country in the top 20 nations that supplied reviews. And an investigation into gender and international diversity at the biosciences journal eLife found that an all-male review team was more likely to accept papers with male authors, and gatekeepers were also more likely to accept papers whose authors were from the same country as them.

“Humans are fallible and peer review has subjective aspects to it,” explains Cassidy Sugimoto, a professor of informatics at Indiana University, Bloomington and a co-author on the paper.

Part of that subjectivity comes from personal worldviews, but it also encompasses the scholarship reviewers and researchers are exposed to. Editors tend to choose reviewers who have read the same body of literature, Sugimoto adds, and may be oblivious to valid work disproving their viewpoint. In the case of race, there is plenty of well-established scholarship, she says, but mostly in fields that are unfamiliar to researchers and reviewers.

“A number of disciplines outside of the humanities need to engage across those boundaries to think critically about what they do as researchers,” says Haupt. “What does it mean to be a scientist in a world that is trying to undo colonialism, systemic racism, sexism? How do you undo the systemic racism, sexism?”

“You need to interrogate your position and the history of your scholarship,” he adds.

Still, there are moves to change the system. One way is to have a more diverse pool of reviewers, Sugimoto says. Another is to have partially open peer review, where reviewers and authors know one another’s identity and their comments are public.

“If peer review is the mechanism to determine validity of work, open peer review would be accountability and transparency,” Sugimoto says, although she adds that this could spark other problems, such as junior reviewers damaging their careers by openly challenging a senior academic. One way to avoid this would be to make only the reviews, rather than the reviewers’ identities, public.

These fixes, perhaps, could have halted the publication of the papers about colored women or countries that experienced slavery. “I’m sure there are lots of pieces of research like this,” says Boswell.

Such work “doesn’t come out of nowhere,” she adds. “This comes out of a context.”


Sarah Wild is a freelance science journalist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.


This article is under Undark’s copyright and does not qualify for the Creative Commons license J2DW normally uses.

Categories
Letters

Letter to the President & CEO of Walmart Canada

12 June 2019

Lee Tappenden, President & CEO

Wal-Mart Canada Corp.

1940 Argentia Road

Mississauga, ON L5N 1P9

Dear Mr. Tappenden,

Recently, it came to our attention Walmart Canada made policy changes greatly affecting your employees, disabled customers, and First Nations customers.

I was visiting your South Barrie store the other day when I discovered it no longer had express checkouts. Instead, I had the option to use the job-stealing self-checkouts or wait in line at one of the beer-toting checkouts. Either had me behind other customers with carts full of stuff vs my three items I was purchasing.

The problem, Mr. Tappenden, is that I have a hidden disability. Waiting in line can actually be unsafe for me, especially as of late due to tiring quickly, there is no where I can wait while the three to ten people in front of me take more than ten minutes each to pay for their purchases.

I further worry for your First Nations and People of Colour customers who may not feel safe in your stores. Who may only come in for two or three things and then quickly leave, now, your new policy forces them to stay longer with no visible security present. Your staff is inadequately trained for this. A First Nations youth shoved into the shelf of an over-crowded aisle might be seen as an “accident” instead of the assault that was intended by the perpetrator.

Your South Barrie store was difficult to navigate as your normally wide primary aisles were crowded in the middle with stock or other items making it difficult to get around.

As a result of this situation, we would like:

  1. The restoration of (at a minimum 3) express checkouts at all Walmart stores in Canada.
  2. Your aisles clear so as to minimize safety issues for your customers.
  3. All staff trained in First Aid, CPR, and AED.
  4. All Walmart stores in Canada equipped with an AED.
    1. All staff informed of its location.
  5. Assistance for customers with disabilities, visible or hidden.

Regards,

 

Peter V. Tretter

President & CEO

Journey to Diversity Workplaces

Categories
Letters

Letter to the Mayor of the City of Barrie

Backgrounder information

Councillors vote to reprimand Keenan Aylwin, following Integrity Commissioner report
Aylwin faces reprimand for breaching Barrie council’s code of conduct

Letter to the Mayor of the City of Barrie

1 June 2019

Jeff Lehman, Mayor
City of Barrie
70 Collier St. P.O. Box 400
Barrie, ON L4M 4T5

Your Worship,

We are writing to you today concerning Suzanne Craig, the City of Barrie’s “Integrity Commissioner” and her report to City Council regarding Councillor Keenan Aylwin.

We are greatly concerned that the report could potentially be influenced by her own biases and this could potentially be in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Act.

We come to this conclusion as she seems to ignore the fact that the complainant is an elected Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party of Canada. A party that has publicly supported positions in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of which the City of Barrie and its elected Council are required by law to uphold. This is a biased individual whom should be treated with “kid gloves” and any complaint treated as suspect. Mr. Brassard is taking the most extreme and unreasonable interpretation of Mr. Aylwin’s post.

As a result we request that Ms. Craig be placed on unpaid administrative leave while her intentions and biases are investigated by her immediate superior.

Sincerely yours,

Peter V. Tretter
President & CEO
Journey to Diversity Workplaces

Categories
News

Top 5 articles of 2018!

We are fortunate to see an increase in visits to our website in 2018 with lots of help from our active volunteers! Now we present the top 5 articles visitors read on our website in 2018.

5. How to deal with religious accommodations in the Workplace

Freedom of religion, in Canada, is a constitutionally protected right that allows religious believers the freedom to assemble and worship without limitation or interference. Religious discrimination is treating individuals differently in their employment because of their religion, their religious beliefs and practices, denying their reasonable request for accommodation or a change in a workplace rule or policy that denies employees equal opportunities due to their religious beliefs or practices. Canadian employers are required to accommodate the reasonable needs of religious employees in the workplace.

4. Women in the Workplace: The Hidden Battle

Throughout our history, women have adopted new roles from working as a housewife to entering the workplace and providing for their family or oneself. As women entered the workplace, we saw issues of sexual harassment, unequal pay and opportunity starting to emerge. These issues are still seen and frequently voiced today as women are continuously taking a stand for their rights. Unfortunately, there are many issues that go unnoticed that need to be addressed. Every day women have to prove that they are just as good or better than their counterparts and when they fail to do so they are labeled as weak, incompetent or just plain lazy.

3. Lack of Diversity in the Workplace Can Cause Stress Among Employees

The success of an organization in today’s competitive world depends upon how well it embraces the challenges of diversity and realizes its benefits. Employees from different backgrounds, ages and ethnicities bring their own set of experiences and world views, and are better able to provide a wider range of solutions to developing problems. Most of all, a lack of diversity has been linked to increased discrimination which in turn leads to elevated stress levels among employees. The National Center for Biotechnology Information note that discrimination due to immigrant status, legal status, skin tone or language can contribute to increased stress in individuals.

2. The Pros and Cons of Hiring Older Employees vs. Younger Employees

Ever thought you would one day be in a position where you would have the decision on your hands to make or break someone’s career? Well if you are, here is something that you might come across depending on the nature of your job. This article aims to analyze some of the main factors to consider while picking the right person for the job. At the very outset, I must make it clear that I am referring to older as in more experienced professionals and not just being ageist.

1. Workplace Issues and Solutions

There are a variety of workplace issues that both employers and employees encounter. Some of these issues are minor while other workplace issues are more significant and require frequent attention from employees for the workplace to function properly. While it is the responsibility of management to take steps to develop strategies to combat workplace issues, employees also have a responsibility to speak up when they recognize issues that contribute to or may eventually lead to problems.

This article was mostly contributed to and edited by J2DW volunteers!

Categories
Voices of our Nation

4 Essential Tips for Workplace Cultural Acceptance

When working at an environment that is home to people from diverse backgrounds, it is important the workplaces know these cultural and individual differences in order to have programs or diversity. A means to bond rather than wedge a divide between them. It might not seem like much. A harmless holiday celebration without negative impacts on others but these little celebrations of one culture could be a sign of spreading disgruntlement.

Some adoptable strategies:

  • Weekly meetings – not simply a chance for a wonderful work-related update, but also gives a chance to talk and know if there have been issues. This maintains a line of communication with employees.
  • Call out unacceptable behaviour – if you see someone taking an opportunity to put down someone else based on something they do not have any control over (e.g., race, sex, gender, age, skin colour, hair type, and so on), then call them out on it. If the management does not see it and correct it, then it could perpetuate.
  • Encourage your employees to report potential instances of workplace discrimination – this perpetuates a healthy employer-employee relationship and creates an environment where employees feel heard, respected, and treated with dignity.
  • Try encouraging acceptance of all cultures by having a team potluck lunch/dinner – it will encourage them to know each other and one another’s their culture, and provide a chance to bond over something that has worked like a charm for centuries: food.
  • It is difficult to change cities, maybe start a new job in a new field, a career away from home, or have other woes, no matter what problem one might face, non-acceptance by fellow workers could be the worst of them all. Imagine spending 8-9 hours in the company of fellow coworkers who do not accept you probably silently judge you as well.

    It is important for the management to step up and bridge the divide between the employees and let acceptance seep into the core of the company’s structure. Once it’s a part of the foundation, the company will emerge stronger than ever.

    This article was written by volunteer blogger Riya Prem Raaj and edited by volunteer editor Scott Douglas Jacobsen.

    Categories
    Media releases

    J2DW Announces Appointment of New Chairwoman of the Board

    Journey to Diversity Workplaces Announces Appointment of New Chairwoman of the Board

    For Immediate Release

     

    BARRIE, ON, 2 JULY 2018 – Journey to Diversity Workplaces (“J2DW” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce Ms. Cynthia Gordon, M.A., a current independent director of J2DW, was appointed Chairwoman of J2DW’s Board of Directors, replacing Mr. Tony Huy Hoang Do, M.F.Ac. who remains on the board, but has taken a step back to focus on his career aspirations.

    Ms. Gordon joined J2DW Board of Directors in January of 2018. She ascended to the Office of Chairwoman recently. Ms. Gordon holds a Master of Arts degree from Athabasca University and a Bachelor of Psychology degree from the University of Guelph. Ms. Gordon is currently employed as an Employment Services Consultant for Georgian College in Orangeville, Ontario and was President of the Athabasca University Graduate Students Association from 2015 to 2016.

    “We are so very excited to have Cynthia not only join the Board of Directors but take on the challenge of Chairwoman,” J2DW President & CEO, Peter V. Tretter, said, “I am certain that Cynthia has both the drive and the passion to make this work well. I look forward to working with her in the days to come.”

    Journey to Diversity Workplaces has a few vacancies open on the board. More information can be found here at www.j2dw.ca/job/board-member-volunteer/

    About J2DW

    Journey to Diversity Workplaces (J2DW) is a Barrie, Ontario based organization formed under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act in December 2013. Find out more about us at www.j2dw.ca

    — 30 —

    Contact:

    J2DW Media Relations
    705-481-7784 ext 2
    Email us!

    Sent from the traditional territory of the Haudenosauneega and Anishinaabeg peoples.

    Categories
    Founder's Blog

    Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

    A decent variety identifies with various societies, foundations, ages, sexual orientations, identities and different elements. It likewise identifies with how individuals see themselves and how they see others. Cultural variety in the work environment has turned into a key worry to pioneers and chiefs of associations today. Associations are crossing outskirts and mainland in the mission for more markets. Work movements are acquiring individuals from various races, foundations, sexual orientations and identities into the work environment. Enrollment masters are hunting down work ability all around. At this point, what are the ramifications of these to an association? How does these influence administrators? What are the principle things a director has to know in regards to variety in the work environment? We should think about some notable angles.

    To the employee: listed are some of the ways to respect the diversity in the workplace;

    We all have biases. This is a natural result of our life experience. Take a moment to write down what your biases are and ways in which you wouldn’t allow these biases to affect how you conduct yourself in the workplace.

    • Take a genuine interest in someone with a different background than your own. Make sure your conversions are deep rooted in a common ground that does not offend cultural sensibilities.

    • Bring together, diverse groups for invitation. Doing this will increase the pace and creativity involved with innovation. Companies that do not change and innovate will crumble and the diversity can be a company’s most valuable resources in this area.

    • Respect religious holidays. Most company’s respect Christian holidays, however, the workplace tends to have a variety of religions. Thus, all-important holidays should be respected of that particular religion.

    • Create interest in organizing a lunch with someone from a different background and try changing lunch tables to meet new people.

    To the Director: In the worldwide town, having decent variety is a reality and not simply administrative buildup. As a director, you have to comprehend, embrace and value cultural diversity. The director of a company will unquestionably have various groups in any case and the onus is on him/her to adjust their administrative abilities corresponding to this.

    It is prudent for human asset supervisors and enlistment specialists to think about assorted variety while distinguishing and pulling in ability.

    Cultural variety must be implanted into the way of life of the association. Your association’s way of life is produced after some time and contains the convictions, values, practices, states of mind and other basic suppositions shared by individuals. Envision a different work environment with its way of life genuinely skewed and doesn’t consider having a variety of diversity.

    As an administrator, you have to realize that having a decent variety in a working environment is a benefit. Numerous focal points gather from having a decent variety and your association can profit from this because cultural variety upgrades cooperative energy in a work environment. Cultural variety additionally enhances inspiration and motivation and these can bring about expanded efficiency, gainfulness and rate of profitability. It gives a decent stage to learning since it brings new points of view and methodologies, new authority styles, better basic leadership and so forth. The mix of various encounters, foundations and vocation ways can be a gift. This can be utilized to enhance productivity and viability of people and furthermore, groups. Item advancement groups for instance, can be multidisciplinary and multicultural for motivations behind having a decent variety.

    Presently, shouldn’t something be said about the drawback of having a decent cultural diversity? Work environment assorted variety additionally has its impediments and risks. Correspondence issues commonly emerge and these can be trying to your element’s activities. Isn’t this test regular with multinationals? Cultural diversity may likewise breed protection from change. Most times workers may likewise be enraptured along lines of decent variety. Past the substance and into the business world, complexities in business arrangements crosswise over societies and so on can emerge because of cultural variety.

    Associations can take the advantage of cultural diversity to enhance administrations of the association. When you lead business universally for instance, your client base is exceptionally different. The general public you work together in is various. Decent variety in this manner mirrors your client base and the general public overall. Wouldn’t you be able to then utilize your differing group to enhance administrations to the classified client?

    Presently, would you say you are setting adequate accentuation on work environment decent variety? Is your association very much situated to oversee work environment assorted variety? Thinking about all the above certainties, it is crucial that you do the needful. Comprehend cultural variety and make its best utilization, while limiting its negative effect on your company.

    Embrace diversity in your workplace and you will be on the way to a more fulfilling and productive organization. The world is a beautiful mosaic of differences and the workplace should be as well. Respecting your co-workers and employees is paramount to tapping the valuable diversity in your organization.

    Reference

    Charlie Bentson King: Writer and producer of training ABC

    This article was edited by volunteer editor Erin Murphy.

    Categories
    Voices of our Nation

    Promoting Social Cohesion Through Diversity and Inclusion

    Social cohesion refers to the social factors that bond individuals at the community, national, or universal levels. It occurs through the building of positive social relationships.

    This involves the willingness of members of society to cooperate with each other in order to survive and prosper and an accessible community with a barrier-free environment. One that does not limit anyone’s participation in everyday life.

    Diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It includes an understanding that each individual is unique and recognizes the individual differences of people in a society.

    Social inclusion improves on the terms that individuals and groups take part in a society. A socially inclusive society is where people feel valued by others. Their differences are respected. Their basic needs are met, so that people can live in dignity within the society.

    Inclusion is a feeling of belonging, being treated fairly, and providing people with an equal opportunity to be successful. Social exclusion is a process where people are denied full access to various rights, opportunities, and resources that available to members of a different group in the society.
    Diversity and inclusion can promote social cohesion. Social cohesion a means to bond diverse groups of people in working toward a common goal for the improvement of the society to benefit the well-being of everyone.

    Social cohesion is when people live peaceful lives. When diversity is accepted in societies, they begin to be more productive innovators by approaching problems from different perspectives.
    Some of the benefits of social inclusion cohesion are people experiencing a sense of belonging in community with an increased level of acceptance, providing valuable societal roles to increase individual self-worth, and developing stronger social bonds between people from a wider range of diverse backgrounds.

    When people experience even some of these conditions in their life, they will more likely be happier and healthier. In non-inclusive societies, people are more likely to experience poor physical and mental health, loneliness, isolation, and lower self-esteem.

    Several people with various disabilities unnecessarily experience life in a worse way. Unfortunately, these people may not have gained a sense of presence in their community due to not having adequate access to the social activities to significantly enhance their wellbeing.

    People with disabilities may also lack opportunities to work, learn, and develop social relationships with others. Disabled people are sometimes not acknowledged in their community with their skills and unique perspective, where they are untapped or underutilized by society.

    Strategies should be developed to promote social cohesion through diversity and inclusion. When a society becomes invested in promoting social cohesion through diversity and inclusion, every person can benefit and societies can be more successful by utilizing the skills and abilities that each member of society has to offer.

    References:
    Diversity and Inclusion Aids Social Cohesion
    The Upside of Diversity and Inclusion
    Why Diversity?: Advocacy and Issues
    Why Social Inclusion?: Advocacy and Issues

    This article was written by volunteer blogger Shan Simpson and edited by volunteer editor Scott Jacobsen.

    Categories
    Sponsored articles

    Lack of Diversity in the Workplace Can Cause Stress Among Employees

    This is a sponsored article.

    The success of an organization in today’s competitive world depends upon how well it embraces the challenges of diversity and realizes its benefits. Employees from different backgrounds, ages and ethnicities bring their own set of experiences and world views, and are better able to provide a wider range of solutions to developing problems. Most of all, a lack of diversity has been linked to increased discrimination which in turn leads to elevated stress levels among employees. The National Center for Biotechnology Information note that discrimination due to immigrant status, legal status, skin tone or language can contribute to increased stress in individuals.

    So how do companies deal with the diversity in the workplace? U.S. companies spend millions of dollars every year on diversity programs and policies, ranging from equal employment opportunity compliance to cultural sensitivity training programs. This leads most people to assume that it makes companies fairer to both women and minorities; the reality is much different, however. Implementing diversity program has little actual positive effect and may even decrease representation according to the Harvard Business Review. Even when there is clear evidence of discrimination, the mere presence of a diversity policy automatically leads people to discount any claims of wrongdoing.

    This leads to increased stress levels and with long-term discrimination can lead to acute and chronic stress. The body enters a defensive posture which closes our ability to learn and impairs judgement. Statistics Canada states that over one in four workers report being highly stressed and over 62% of workers reported that work is the main source of stress in their lives.
    Lottoland describes this kind of stress as ‘distress’, which could be permanent, prevents the body from coping, is demotivating and decreases productivity. As opposed to ‘eustress’ which is a euphoric stress that can actually motivate, increase productivity and make us feel excited. Strong leaders create a stress-free environment where people do not need to get into that kind of defensive posture.

    Diversity should be a critical component of the innovation that leaders strive to achieve in their organization, and research shows that diverse groups outperform homogenous ones. Research conducted by Credit Suisse focusing on 2,400 companies, found that organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher returns on equity and net income growth than those who did not employ women on their board. Working with people from different backgrounds than you will challenge your brain to think more diversely and expand your horizons. The effect of this relationship is that the brain is happier which in turn lowers stress levels and makes a person generally happier as well.

    Workplace diversity can, however, have some unwanted effects which leaders must manage effectively by promoting diversity of thought and innovation. Here at Journey to Diversity Workplaces we say that diversity brings about a variety of ethical issues like sexual harassment due to sexual orientation, racism and gender bias. These are critical situations that interfere with work, personal lives and cause high levels of stress both in the workplace and at home. Particularly in a company that is lacking gender and racial diversity these unwanted effects can be more pronounced. A good leader, therefore, must be fair to manage diversity effectively and when employees enter that stressful phase, the leader must be able to pull them out if it. When people experience fair treatment and a positive and genuine diversity, it will in turn reduce their stress levels and improve their health.

    This sponsored article was edited by volunteer editor Erin Murphy.

    Categories
    Voices of our Nation

    Diversity for Productivity

    According to the University of Florida, people are living longer and the world’s globalization will require further interaction from people who are more diversified and come from an array of backgrounds. Typically, they work in diverse and varied environments and this raises questions about tracking this trend and adapting to it. Companies want to perform better in the business world and many would like to advance diversity as well.

    The importance of a diverse work and business environment is to be able to maximize and capitalize on workplace productivity and effective management. This places a lot of responsibility on supervisors and managers. We see that the workplace environment is continuing to evolve with the times and that the culture and workplace will follow suit. Based on the report, Diversity in the Workplace from the University of Florida, companies looking to embrace diversity and have inclusive organizational structures will likely gain greater productivity and competitive advantages. Thus, those workplaces that do not choose to evolve will potentially lose productivity.

    There are some questions that arise from companies planning or thinking about evolving. How do you do it? What forms will it take? To do it is simply to build a structure from which to onboard people from diverse backgrounds. The forms that it will take will be much more diverse and inclusive from the managerial side all the way down to interns. Of course, as noted in the research, “there is no single recipe for success.” The manager’s ability to be able to understand teamwork and the dynamics of the team in the workplace is very important. A manager or supervisor wants to look into things such as equal employment opportunities in order to capitalize on the larger talent pool, especially when looking at a broader base of the variables for potential employees.

    In addition, the manager or supervisor may want to look into the means through which those throughout the hierarchy of the organization can find advancement. If an intern, they can potentially be promoted to part-time or full-time employment. If a full-time employee, they may be able to be promoted to some sub-managerial or supervisory role. As the article summarizes, a diverse set of teams can bring a higher value to organizations in addition to respecting individual differences that can provide an organization or business with a “competitive edge” and increase in “work productivity.”

    Many workplaces in the modern era have diverse backgrounds, people, educational experiences and certifications, and so on. If this comes into play, then it will eventually result in a higher productivity of the organization as a whole towards its stated mission, mandate, and goals.

    References
    Green, K. et al. (2002, June). Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges, and the Required Managerial Tools. Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/HR/HR02200.pdf.

    This article was written by volunteer blogger Scott Jacobsen and edited by volunteer editor Erin Murphy.