Stereotyping can cause people in a workplace to treat individuals or groups a certain way based on preconceived notions about that person or group. Diversity factors, including ethnicity, race, culture, religion, gender and age, can all contribute to the propensity of stereotyping in your organization. Promoting a non-discriminatory workplace with openness and acceptance of individual differences helps in preventing common negative effects.
Abuse and Mistreatment
If you stereotype yourself or passively allow others to engage in stereotyping, your workplace is potentially ripe for abuse or mistreatment. Employees with preconceived notions about people sometimes test the waters with basic comments or actions. If you don’t step in to address these initial behaviors, the employees may sense that the culture promotes or accepts open displays of discrimination or mistreatment based on personal qualities. This belief only escalates the problem.
A general problem with stereotyping is that it can cause low morale for the individual or group impacted or potentially make the entire workplace toxic. Employees who face constant comments, criticisms or other negative results from stereotyping can lose motivation and interest in performing their jobs. Low morale can indirectly affect workers and departments not directly involved with stereotyping behaviors. Over time, production is likely lower if your culture has toxic morale.
Bad Working Relationships
If teamwork and collaboration are necessary ingredients to your company’s success, stereotyping is a major problem. Employees who act based on stereotypes rather than putting faith in the abilities and effort of coworkers impede group progress. In a work team, stereotyping can prevent an employee from asking for support or offering it to a particular employee. A man may not ask a woman in his team for help, for instance, if he believes that she isn’t capable of understanding the task and concepts because she’s female.
Allowing or accepting stereotypes and resulting behaviors can also create legal tension within your organization. There is the potential that someone affected by the discriminatory behaviors will sue you. If you have a human resources department, your failure to implement and enforce fair policies and practices is a burden for HR staff as well. Successful lawsuits could financially ruin a small business, thus putting everyone in the company out of work.