Just as stereotypes are harmful and unfair in everyday life, they can quickly wreak havoc on morale and productivity in the workplace. Varying degrees of stereotyping occur in workplaces despite a greater awareness and acceptance of diversity. Employers must ensure they don't perpetuate stereotypes, while acting swiftly to discipline those who do.
Workplace stereotypes are often related to gender, race, sexual preference and religion. Stereotypes in the office aren't distinctly different from stereotypes in everyday life, especially given that the modern-day workforce includes people of all nationalities, ages, races and sexual preferences. A stereotype isn't necessarily workplace harassment; if an employee believes something about a co-worker because of her age, for example, he's not harassing her unless he takes overt action to do so.
Despite the advances of women in the workplace over the last several decades, stereotypes about women are prevalent in many offices. Common examples include that a women with blonde hair is unintelligent and thus cannot fulfill simple tasks, or that an attractive woman who receives a promotion is rewarded it because she flirted or slept with her supervisor. "Forbes" reports that common male/female stereotypes are that men are too stoic and hold their feelings while women are too emotional at work.
Age-related stereotypes are prevalent in workplaces that employ people of a wide range of ages. Younger employees might believe that older employees are incapable of keeping up with modern-day trends, while older workers can mistakenly believe that their young co-workers are lazy. A 2011 study by the consulting group Achieve Global reports that traits of a workplace that has problems associated with age include employees judging each other based on their age alone and employers only hiring people from a certain age group.
The website Law Teacher reports that racial stereotypes are common because popular culture often perpetuates these beliefs. For example, many will stereotype African-Americans as being lazy or unintelligent, while others might believe that most Latinos working the U.S. are in the country illegally. Some stereotypes have a positive twist, but are stereotypes nonetheless. Many people assume that all Asians are skilled in such disciplines as mathematics.
- HRVoice.org: Avoiding Stereotypes in the Workplace
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Age-Based Stereotypes -- Silent Killer of Collaboration and Productivity
- Law Teacher: Discrimination and Stereotypes in the Workplace
- Forbes: Men At Work: Seven Sneaky Stereotypes
- Forbes: Crybabies, Indeciders and Other Workplace Stereotypes
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images