Insights at UBC Sauder

EDI Catalyst Research grant: Empowering academics to study diversity and inclusion in corporations

EDI Catalyst Research grant: Empowering academics to study diversity and inclusion in corporations
Posted 2023-04-12

The EDI Catalyst Research grant funding, led jointly by Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics and the UBC Sauder Dean's Office, is helping academics pursue cutting-edge research that can have practical implications in the industry.

From navigating prejudice towards minority-labelled businesses and fostering equity along the supply chain, to studying how male leaders respond to sexist remarks—UBC Sauder researchers are able to conduct studies that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

Over the past two years, eight different research projects have received EDI Catalyst funding. We talked to the authors of some of the projects to learn more about their important work.


'Confront him in public, validate her in private'

Dr. Jon Evans, Assistant Professor in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources Division, led a study to evaluate the effectiveness of different possible responses by a male team leader when a female team member is subjected to a sexist remark.

"Our research question is significant because women continue to face the negative consequences of bias at work, and team leaders who are motivated to be an ally need to know what responses are most helpful," says Dr. Evans.

The study, titled 'Confront Him in Public, Validate Her in Private: Effective Team Leader Responses to Sexist Remarks,' found that the best outcome occurs when a male leader confronts a sexist remark in front of the team (rather than a private setting), and validates the experience of the female team member in private (rather than in front of the team). When leaders engage in these more effective responses, female team members feel a higher sense a belonging on the team and are more willing to offer suggestions and ideas in future meetings. 

Dr. Evans says the EDI grant enabled the team to recruit over 700 participants for three studies. "Receiving this grant helped us feel supported by UBC Sauder and gave us confidence that our research question was valued by others."


Diversity in leadership—and its impact on supply chain decisions

Dr. Rebecca Paluch, Assistant Professor in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Division, and her team looked into racial preference while recruiting EDI leaders, in a study titled 'The Non-White Standard: Racial Bias in Perceptions of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leaders'.

While research has traditionally indicated a strong preference for leaders who are White, the preference for EDI leaders tends to be non-White.

"This is due in part to assumptions that non-White individuals have suffered from discrimination and are committed to social justice," explains Dr. Paluch.

But, she says, this assumption can have implications for an organization and the workforce at large: "We find raters are likely to give non-White candidates higher leadership evaluations and stronger hiring recommendations compared to White candidates when they evaluate someone for an EDI leadership role."

Dr. Paluch says the fund sends a strong signal that UBC Sauder encourages knowledge development on EDI-related research.

"Supporting EDI in academia is important for ensuring all perspectives are represented as we build our understanding of the world we live and work in."


The EDI Research Catalyst grant gave Dr. Jenny Li Zhang, Associate Professor in the Accounting and Information Systems Division, an opportunity to study how ethnic diversity in boardrooms influence a firm’s supply chain related decisions.

"Our preliminary results show that boards with more racial diversity adopt a more diversified supply chain structure, such as selecting foreign suppliers and dispersing purchases between different suppliers on the map."

The grant money helped Dr. Zhang and her team buy important commercial data and perform key analysis.

Dr. Zhang says the study, titled 'The Ripple Effects of Racial Diversity: From Boardroom to Supply Chain', proves that decisions around diversity and inclusion can have practical consequences and shape major business decisions.


Navigating bias against minority-owned businesses and stigmatized identities

PhD marketing student Sid Mookerjee, along with supervisor Dr. Yann Cornil, Associate Professor in the Marketing and Behavioral Science Division, studied how consumers perceive businesses that advertise the ethnic origins of their business owners, with labels such as a 'Black-Owned business' and 'Latinx-owned shop’, in a paper titled 'Do Minority-Owned Labels Help or Hurt Minority Businesses? The Effect of Minority-Owned Labels on Purchase Intentions Depending on Consumers’ Political Orientation and Race.'

"We found that a subset of consumers tend to respond negatively to these labels because they endorse 'racial colour-blind' ideas—meaning that they refuse to take into account race in their patronage decisions," says Dr. Cornil.

But apart from meditating on this conclusion, Dr. Cornil says the research team explored ways in which business owners can redesign their minority-owned brands to circumvent the negative perceptions.

Dr. Cornil says the grant allowed the team to recruit a diverse set of participants with varying ethnicities and political orientations.

"Having very specific sample requirements can be very costly, and this grant helped us cover the cost of participant recruitment."


Dr. Karl Aquino, Professor in the Marketing and Behavioural Science division, led research that attempts to 'develop and validate a measure that will assess people’s perceptions of a victimhood climate within the organization.' The paper is titled “EDI, Victim Climate, & Employee Relationships.”

Dr. Aquino says that while organizations are eager to implement policies aimed at fostering equity, diversity and inclusion, there has been little research examining the possible relationship between such policies and perceptions of a 'victimhood climate.' This study fills this gap by exploring a possible relationship.

Dr. Aquino says this grant goes a long way in helping generate more accurate insights with tools and data that would otherwise be out of reach. 

"Scale development—the method we employed to develop a measure—is a rigorous and often costly process. This grant provides resources to lay the foundation to develop that measure, and I hope it will ultimately be used for testing subsequent hypotheses."


Dr. Barnini Bhattacharyya, former PhD student, and Dr. Michael Daniels, Assistant Professor in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources division, are using the grant to better understand the role of shame and pride involved in stigmatized identities at work. “We are working with recovering alcoholics to determine whether the process of disclosing this identity to others helps them to experience more pride in their recovery, and less shame over their addiction—ultimately affecting future identity management behaviours,” explains Dr. Daniels.

He says the research, titled ‘The Role of of Shame and Pride in the Management of Concealable Stigmatized Identities at Work,’ can provide valuable insight into how people with concealable stigmatized identities can feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to the workplace and navigate work-related functions that may involve alcohol. 

Dr. Bhattacharyya and Dr. Daniels, while using the grant to recruit and compensate the participants, are also using the funds to pay it forward. Participants in the study are given the option to donate their payment to organizations helping others recover from alcohol addiction. “This grant isn’t only contributing to knowledge creation, but also playing a small part in helping those struggling with addiction to get the help they need.”


To learn more about some of the research supported by the EDI Catalyst Research grant, join the Dhillon Centre on May 19, 2023 for the EDI Catalyst Research Showcase. This online event will feature grant recipients discussing their projects. Learn more and register here.