Study: Team-building events don’t always bridge racial gap

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By: Jello De Los Reyes
Date Posted: April 22, 2013
News Source: Business News Daily

Team-building activities and work social events in the workplace don't always successfully bridge racial gaps between colleagues, a new study found.

The study showed that while work social events may be effective in building relationships and establishing rapport among colleagues that belong in the same racial group, these events are not always effective in improving relationships between colleagues that are racially or ethnically dissimilar.

The researchers also found that more social interactions between colleagues from different race or ethnicity do not always result in closer relationships.

The researchers, however, did not see any negative impact of team-building events between racially dissimilar colleagues. "We didn’t see a negative relationship — it doesn’t make things worse to socialize with your co-workers. But when you’re racially dissimilar, it doesn't have the same positive impact," said Tracy Dumas, the study’s lead author.

These findings are not limited to people from a particular race or ethnicity, Dumas said, as this reality is true for every individual regardless of race or ethnicity. For instance, an African-American worker may find it difficult to open up and relate with a group of white colleagues just as much as a white American may have a hard time building relationship with a group of African-American co-workers.

“This does not have to do with being a member of a particular racial category — it is really about whether you are similar to others in your workplace,” she said.

Dumas said that instead of focusing too much on creating external motivators to encourage team cohesion, companies and employers should focus on improving workplace diversity by creating an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and where employees can contribute something positive to the company.

"Sometimes you can create cohesion around the work task itself — you don’t need outside social interaction. If everyone can feel good about the work they do and celebrate the successes they achieve together, it is not necessary to find ways to connect outside of work," according to Dumas.

Read the full article at Business News Daily

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