Abstract: Reducing Racial, Ethnic and Economic Inequalities: A Study of Climate of Inclusion in an International Garment Factory (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

272P Reducing Racial, Ethnic and Economic Inequalities: A Study of Climate of Inclusion in an International Garment Factory

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Michalle Mor Barak, Ph.D., Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Leslie Schnyder, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Experiences of exclusion among racial and ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ and members of other under-represented groups in the workplace has been associated with negative outcomes such as low job dissatisfaction, lack of employment opportunities (Mor Barak, 2017), increased use of sick leave time (Berthelsen, et al., 2011) and intention to leave an organization (Lopez, et. al., 2009). Contrastingly, organizational climate of inclusion has been associated with positive outcomes, such as enhanced job satisfaction (Bortree and Waters, 2008; Brimhall, Lizano, and Mor Barak, 2014), decreased intention to leave (Brimhall et al., 2014), and increased organizational commitment (Cho and Mor Barak, 2008). Research on garment factories has noted the existence of psychologically adverse work conditions and limited employment opportunities such as promotions (Steinisch et al., 2013). Increasingly, garment factories are international enterprises in which the workers, the managers, and the clients are from different nationalities, which increases cross-cultural misunderstanding and sense of exclusion among workers.  There is a paucity of literature exploring climate of inclusion within garment factory settings. Locke and Romis (2010) note that Mexican-based garment factories have been linked to low-wage and poor working conditions, as well as human rights concerns. This reality suggests that more research is needed regarding the promotion of inclusion within garment factory workplace settings.

Methods: Sample - A convenience sample of employees (n=236) was recruited from a garment factory based in Mexico, owned/managed by Korean nationals, producing garments to primarily U.S. clients. Women represented the majority of workers, constituting approximately 87% of the overall sample. Participants had a mean age of 29.45, 50% had completed middle school, and the mean years working at the organization was 3.48 years.

Measures – We utilized a 15-item scale for climate of inclusion (Mor Barak & Cherin, 1998; Mor Barak 2006) to assess the participants’ perceptions of inclusion within the organization;  a 4-item measure Job satisfaction generated by the 1977 Quality of Employment Survey (Quinn and Staines, 1979); An 8-item affective commitment scale to measure organizational commitment (Allen, & Meyer, 1990); and an adapted 4-item scale of intention to leave developed by Abrams, Ando, and Hinkle (1998). Statistical Analysis - Multivariate regression was utilized as a main modeling strategy.

Results: Climate of inclusion was a significant predictor of job satisfaction (b=.17, t=4.87, p<.001), organizational commitment (b=.16, t=3.78, p <.001), and intention to leave (b=-.085, t= -2.01, p=.046) amongst the sample of garment factory workers, controlling for level of education, gender and age.

Conclusions and Implications: Our findings suggest that climate of inclusion has the potential to promote job satisfaction among garment factory employees and therefore increase their sense of organizational commitment and decrease their intention to leave. The present study furthers knowledge on employee experiences and highlights that climates of inclusion can be used to promote equity within low-wage garment factory workers.  More research is needed to explore the relationship between inclusion and worker and organizational outcomes as well as ways to improve climate of inclusion.