Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 110, Issue 3, pp 247–258 | Cite as

An Empirical Test of Diversity Climate Dimensionality and Relative Effects on Employee of Color Outcomes

  • E. Holly Buttner
  • Kevin B. Lowe
  • Lenora Billings-Harris


This study examined the relative effect of diversity climate dimensions captured by two measures: Mor Barak et al.’s (Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 34:82–104, 1998) diversity climate scale and Chrobot-Mason’s (Journal of Managerial Psychology 18:22–45, 2003) diversity promise fulfillment scale on professional employee of color outcomes: organizational commitment (OC) and turnover intentions. We hypothesized that the two scales would measure different aspects of diversity climate. We further hypothesized that the different climate dimensions would interactively affect the employee of color outcomes. Third, we predicted that diversity climate would mediate between diversity promise fulfillment and employee of color outcomes. Finally, we hypothesized that organizational commitment would mediate the interactive effect of diversity climate dimensions on turnover intentions. Results indicated that the diversity scales each predicted unique variance in employee outcomes and that the climate dimensions interactively influenced professional of color organizational commitment and turnover intentions. We also found that the diversity climate dimension, as measured by the Mor Barak scale, mediated between diversity promise fulfillment and the outcomes. Finally, we found complete mediated moderation between the interaction of the two climate measures and turnover intentions by organizational commitment. Implications are discussed.


Diversity climate Employee of color Moderated mediation Organizational commitment Turnover intentions 



Diversity climate as measured by the Mor Barak et al. (1998) scale


Diversity promises scale as measured by the Chrobot-Mason (2003) scale


Organizational commitment


Turnover intention


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Albreacht, S. (2006). Predictors of employee extra-role performance and turnover intentions in the public sector: An integrated model. International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 6, 263–278.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, R., & Billings-Harris, L. (2010). Trailblazers: How top business leaders are accelerating results through inclusion and diversity. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  4. Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychology research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Buttner, E. H., Lowe, K. B., & Billings-Harris, L. (2009). The challenge of increasing minority-group professional representation in the United States: Intriguing findings. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 20, 771–789.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buttner, E. H., Lowe, K. B., & Billings-Harris, L. (2010a). The impact of diversity promise fulfillment on employee of color outcomes in the U S. Journal of Business Ethics, 91, 501–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buttner, E. H., Lowe, K. B., & Billings-Harris, L. (2010b). Diversity climate impact on employee of color outcomes: Does justice matter? Career Development International, 15(3), 239–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Caldwell, Q. S., Mack, D., Johnson, C. D., & Biderman, M. D. (2002). Value for diversity as a moderator of organizational relationships. Poster presented at the 17th Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Toronto, Canada.Google Scholar
  9. Cammann, C., Fichman, M., Jenkins, D., & Klesh, J. (1979). The michigan organizational assessment questionnaire. Unpublished manuscript, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.Google Scholar
  10. Chavez, I. C., & Weisinger, J. Y. (2008). Beyond diversity training: A social infusion for cultural inclusion. Human Resource Management, 47(2), 331–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chrobot-Mason, D. L. (2003). Keeping the promise: Psychological contract violations for minority employees. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 18, 22–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cook, S. D., Hepworth, S, J., Wall, T. D., & Warr, S, J. (1981). The experience of work: A compendium and review of 249 measures and their uses. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  13. Cox, T. (1994). Cultural diversity in organizations: Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Beliefs, attitude, intentions and behavior. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
  15. Gonzalez, J. A., & DeNisi, A. S. (2009). Cross-level effects of demography and diversity climate on organizational attachment and firm effectiveness. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 21–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hicks-Clarke, D., & Iles, P. (2000). Climate for diversity and its effects on career and organisational attitudes and perceptions. Personnel Review, 29, 324–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Irwin, N., I. I. (2004). America’s increasing diversity. Futurist, 38(2), 21.Google Scholar
  18. James, L. R., Choi, C. C., Ko, C.-H., McNeil, P. K., Minton, M. K., Wright, M. A., et al. (2008). Organizational and psychological climate: A review of theory and research. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 17(1), 5–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jeanquart-Barone, S. (1996). Implications of racial diversity in the supervisor-subordinate relationship. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26, 935–944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Joshi, A., & Roh, H. (2009). The role of context in work team diversity research: A meta-analytic review. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 599–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kalev, A., Dobbin, F., & Kelly, E. (2006). Best practices or best guesses? Assessing the efficacy of corporate affirmative action and diversity policies. American Sociological Review, 71, 589–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kimley, A. (1997). Diversity programs: Coming of age. Black Enterprise Management, 4.Google Scholar
  23. Kossek, E., & Zonia, S. (1993). Assessing diversity climate: A field study of employer efforts to promote diversity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14, 61–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lo, S., & Aryee, S. (2003). Psychological contract breach in a Chinese context: An integrative approach. Journal of Management Studies, 40, 1005–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Matthieu, J. E., & Zajac, D. M. (1990). A review and meta-analysis of the antecedents, correlates, and consequences of organizational commitment. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 171–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McKay, P. F., & Avery, D. R. (2005). Warning! Diversity recruitment could backfire. Journal of Management Inquiry, 14, 330–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McKay, P. F., Avery, D. R., Tonidandel, S., Morris, M. A., Hernandez, M., & Hebl, M. (2007). Racial differences in employee retention: Are diversity climate perceptions the key? Personnel Psychology, 60, 35–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McKay, P. F., Avery, D. R., & Morris, M. A. (2008). Mean racial-ethnic differences in employee sales performance: The moderating role of diversity climate. Personnel Psychology, 61, 349–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McKay, P. F., Avery, D. R., & Morris, M. A. (2009). A tale of two climates: Diversity climate for subordinates’ and managers’ perspectives and their role in store unit sales performance. Personnel Psychology, 62, 767–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McKay, P. F., Avery, D. R., Liao, H., & Morris, M. (2011). Does diversity climate lead to customer satisfaction? It depends on the service climate and business unit demography. Organizational Science, 22, 788–803.Google Scholar
  31. Mobley, W. H., Griffeth, R., Hand, H., & Meglino, B. (1979). Review and conceptual analysis of the employee turnover process. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 493–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mor Barak, M. E., Cherin, D. A., & Berkman, S. (1998). Organizational and personal dimensions in diversity climate. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 34, 82–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Morrison, E., & Robinson, S. (1997). When employees feel betrayed: A model of how psychological contract violation develops. Academy of Management Review, 22, 226–256.Google Scholar
  34. Mowday, R. T., Porter, L. M., & Steers, R. M. (1979). The measurement of organizational commitment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 14, 224–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ostroff, C., Kinicki, A. J., & Tamkins, M. M. (2003). Organizational culture and climate. In W. C. Borman & D. R. Ilgen (Eds.), Handbook of psychology: Industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 565–593). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  36. Richard, O. (2000). Racial diversity business strategy, and firm performance. Academy of Management Journal, 43, 164–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Richard, O., Barnett, T., Dwyer, S., & Chadwick, K. (2004). Cultural diversity in management, firm performance, and the moderating role of entrepreneurial dimensions. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 255–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Robinson, G., & Dechant, K. (1997). Building a business case for diversity. Academy of Management Executive, 11(3), 21–31.Google Scholar
  39. Robinson, E., & Morrison, E. W. (2000). The development of psychological contract breach and violation: A longitudinal study. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21, 525–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Robinson, S., & Rousseau, D. M. (1994). Violating the psychological contract: Not the exception but the norm. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 15, 245–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rousseau, D. M. (1989). Psychological and implied contracts in organizations. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 2, 131–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sacco, J. M., & Schmidt, N. (2005). A dynamic multilevel model of demographic diversity and misfit effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 203–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schulte, M., Ostroff, C., & Kinicki, A. (2006). Organizational climate systems and psychological climate perceptions: A cross-level study of climate-satisfaction relationships. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 79, 645–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shurn-Hannah, P. (2000). Solving the minority retention mystery. Human Resource Professional, 13, 22–27.Google Scholar
  45. Simons, T., Friedman, R., Liu, L. A., & McLean Parks, J. (2007). Racial differences in sensitivity to behavioral integrity: Attitudinal consequences, in-group effects and “trickle down” among Black and Non-Black employees. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 650–665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. In S. Leinhart (Ed.), Sociological methodology (pp. 290–312). Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.Google Scholar
  47. Spector, P. E. (2006). Method variance in organizational research: Truth or urban legend? Organizational Research Methods, 9, 221–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stewart, R., Volpone, S., Avery, D., & McKay, P. (2011). You support diversity, but are you ethical? Examining the interactive effects of diversity and ethical climate perceptions on turnover intentions. Journal of Business Ethics, 100, 581–593.Google Scholar
  49. Tekleab, A., Takeuchi, R., & Taylor, M. S. (2005). Extending the chain of relationships among organizational justice, social exchange and employee reactions: The role of contract violations. Academy of Management Journal, 48, 146–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Thomas, K., & Wise, P. (1999). Organizational attractiveness and individual differences: Are diverse applicants attracted by different factors? Journal of Business and Psychology, 13, 375–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Turnley, W., & Feldman, D. (1999). The impact of psychological contract violations on exit, voice, loyalty and neglect. Human Relations, 52, 895–922.Google Scholar
  52. U.S. Census Bureau. (2008). National Population Projections. Calculations determined from Tables 13–20 at Accessed 7 Oct 2011.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Holly Buttner
    • 1
  • Kevin B. Lowe
    • 1
  • Lenora Billings-Harris
    • 2
  1. 1.The University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.Excel Development Systems, IncGreensboroUSA

Personalised recommendations