My research examines stigma-related processes and their implications for work. The workforce has become increasingly more diverse over the past several decades. Yet despite this growing demographic trend, prejudice and discrimination against stigmatized groups remain as prevalent as ever. As a micro-organizational behavior scholar, I seek to understand how social stigma impacts individuals’ workplace experiences and outcomes.
Extant research on stigma, which is defined as a distinguishing characteristic that conveys a socially devalued identity, primarily focuses on the negative consequences (e.g., stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination) for those who possess it (e.g., racial minorities, LGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities). I expand this work in two critical ways: (1) by investigating the positive outcomes that may arise from overcoming the negative consequences of stigma and (2) by exploring how these negative consequences extend beyond people who possess a stigmatized identity to those associated to them.
In my primary stream of research, I consider how stigmatized individuals can learn from their experiences and, ultimately, develop unique assets that can contribute to organizations. This work speaks to an important, yet under-explored, paradox inherent to the organizational diversity literature – how diversity, which most often involves the inclusion of individuals with stigmatized social identities, can be a source of advantage for organizations when stigma, by definition, is a source of disadvantage for those individuals. Without minimizing the pervasive, detrimental consequences of stigma, I study how the systematically more challenging life experiences of those enduring such suffering may also yield compensatory positive resources arising out of ongoing disadvantage. My work joins the growing body of research showing that diversity can be a source of value for organizations.
In a secondary line of work, I investigate how far the harmful effects of stigma extend by exploring the phenomenon of stigma by association. Specifically, my research considers how, when, and why stigma transfers to proximal others who do not possess the stigma themselves (in other words, people who are relationally or physically close to a stigmatized person). I investigate this process in two organizational contexts: the labor market and racially diverse teams. These projects further the literatures on stigma and organizational diversity by demonstrating the far-reaching effects of stigma on work outcomes.