How promotion loss shapes expectations of discrimination: an intersectional approach


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand the implications of anticipated discrimination for women and racial minorities when they lose out on an opportunity for a promotion to a similarly qualified non-minority colleague. Design/methodology/approach: A sample of 248 participants who were full-time working adults residing in the USA were randomly assigned to one of four versions of the scenario in which a coworker was either a White male, a White female, a Black male or a Black female coworker is offered a desired promotion. Participants reported on the extent to which they anticipated discrimination (i.e. expect discriminatory behaviors enacted toward them in the future) in the hypothetical workplace. Findings: Women and racial minorities reported anticipated discrimination at greater levels than non-minorities when passed over for a promotion. The authors also found that intersectionally stigmatized, racial minority women reported the highest levels of anticipated discrimination. Practical implications: The authors recommend transparent and honest communication about organizations’ decision-making processes that have career-related implications for underrepresented populations. Doing so may help alleviate concerns or perceptions that employees may have in regard to organizational practices being (intentionally or unintentionally) discriminatory. Originality/value: While research has examined the psychological implications of receiving a promotion, substantially less work has focused on the characteristics of the promoted coworker or considered how those characteristics shape perceptions of anticipating discrimination.

Publication Title

Gender in Management