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Staffing and Diversity issues in Organizations

Updated on February 6, 2017

What are some major legal or ethical issues that may occur when staffing, and what steps can we take to ensure that organizational practices are appropriate and effective?

There are many legal and ethical issues that may occur when staffing, however, there are also steps that can be taken to ensure that organizational practices are appropriate and effective. Most of the legal and ethical issues revolve around adverse impact; adverse impact is a “type of discrimination that acknowledges that the employer may not have intended to discriminate against a plaintiff, but an employer practice did have an adverse impact on the group to which the plaintiff belongs” (Landy & Conte, 2013, p. 269). The discrimination, intentional or unintentional, is normally on the basis of race, gender, age, ethnic group, or disability. Staffing organizations should remain aware of the 80 percent or 4/5ths rule; this rule is the guideline for assessing the evidence of adverse impact. The 80 percent or 4/5ths rule states that if it can be proven that a protected group received less than 80 percent of the desirable outcomes, for example job offers or promotions received by a majority group, then the plaintiffs can claim to have met the burden of demonstrating adverse impact (Landy & Conte, 2013). By remaining aware of the 80 percent or 4/5ths rule the organization can ensure that they do not provide less than 80 percent of job offers or promotions to protected groups. This is one step that an organization can take to ensure that organizational practices are appropriate. The organization can also train their industrial and organizational psychologist and human resources professionals who are involved in staffing decisions, in legal and ethical issues that can arise during the staffing process. By making these individuals aware of the potential problems before they arise, the organization can reduce the number of legal and ethical issues that may arise.

In order to further ensure that the organizational practices are both appropriate and effective, organizations could hire an independent industrial and organizational psychologist in a consultant role to inspect their organizational practices. By hiring an independent industrial and organizational psychologist the organization would get a fresh set of eyes on their organizational practices so as to be unbiased as possible. The independent industrial and organizational psychologist could then provide the organization with an evaluation of their practices as well as suggestions on how to make them more appropriate and effective. In addition, the organization could send out anonymous surveys to their employees on the topic of the organization’s practices. This would give employees who work within the organization an opportunity to point out deficiencies that they might be worried about expressing to their boss as well as allowing the employees to offer suggestions on how to improve upon the effectiveness of the organization’s practice.


Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2013). Work in the 21st Century: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 4th Edition.

  1. 1. Distinguish between management and leadership. Use the text or an outside source to support your definitions.

Management is when a person deals with or controls things or people. Leadership is when a person inspires others to follow them and they work towards achieving a shared vision or goal. The main difference between being a manager and being a leader is that leaders have people who follow them, while managers have people who work for them (go2HR, n.d.). According to go2HR (n.d.) a successful business owner needs to be a strong leader and a competent manager in order to get their team on board to follow them towards their vision of success.

  1. 2. I/O psychologists help organizations with the following (describe at least three main functions of I/O psychologists):

Industrial and organizational psychology, often referred to as I-O psychology, is a field of psychology dedicated to the application of psychological principles, theory, and research to the work setting (Landy & Conte, 2013). I-O psychology is often mistakenly believed to only encompass the work setting, when it in fact stretches beyond just the work place; I-O psychologists also study the factors that influence work behavior. Industrial and organizational psychologists strive to increase worker productivity, create safe work environments, train new employees, organize the management structure of companies and organizations in the most effective and beneficial manner, address the emotional and motivational side of work, improve the quality of life for workers, solve work place problems as they arise, and to prevent problems from occurring in the workplace (Landy & Conte, 2013).

The three functions of an I/O psychologist that stand out the most to me are that they help organizations to function better through examining the workplace and improving it in order to increase the productivity of the employees, they train new employees in order to ease their transition into the organization and get the most benefit from each hire, and they study the work place and factors that influence the workplace so as to both prevent and solve workplace problems.

  1. 3. Define “individual differences” as they relate to the workplace.

Individual differences are “dissimilarities between or among two or more people” (Landy & Conte, 2013, p. 88). It is believed individual differences can be used to predict behavior to a certain extent. The main factors used when predicting behavior are intelligence, personality, and knowledge. However academic achievement, intellectual development, crime, delinquency, vocational choices, income level, poverty, and occupational performance are also important aspects to take into account when utilizing individual differences to predict behavior. An I-O psychologist would need to understand the value of individual differences and the way in which they cause people to react differently in order to be able to hire the correct person for the correct job and to assist is solving workplace conflicts.

  1. 4. What is job analysis, and why is it so important for selection purposes within an organizational setting?

Job analysis is the process of obtaining information about all of the parameters of a job, such as the responsibilities, behaviors, skills, the physical requirements, and the mental requirements of the people who do it; this information is collected through determination of the duties, tasks, and/or activities that people who hold that job complete (Bohlander, Snell, & Morris, 2013). A job analysis is typically used in order to create a job description which is a clearly defined description of the job which includes a list of either required or preferred qualifications for the job incumbent (Performing Job Analysis, 2013). There are many reasons for an organization to perform job analysis such as: strategic planning, workflow analysis, recruitment and selection, training and development, performance appraisal, compensation management, and legal compliance (Bohlander, Snell, & Morris, 2013).

When a job analysis is done for selection purposes, the main goal is to provide information on the job in order to attract qualified applicants while discouraging applicants that are unqualified from applying (Bohlander, Snell, & Morris, 2013). The job analysis also ensures that the job description shown to potential applicants is updated as needed in order to be accurate (Performing Job Analysis, 2013).

  1. 5. Distinguish between reliability and validity. Provide an example that demonstrates your understanding of these terms.

Reliability and validity are both characteristics of a good measurement. Reliability is a consistency or stability of a measure while validity is the accuracy of inferences made based on test or performance data; it also addresses whether a measure accurately and completely represents what was intended to be measured (Landy & Conte, 2013). An example of reliability would be if a person went to the doctor and had the blood pressure check by two different nurses with each nurse getting a different reading, this shows that either one of the nurses or the blood pressure machine is unreliable, however, if both nurses had gotten the same reading then the blood pressure test results could be considered reliable. An example of validity would be if a person wanted to evaluate another person’s driving skills based on the number of accident reports they were involved in. If the person noted the individual was involved in an increasing number of reports then they could draw the conclusion that the person was a bad driver. However, if the person examined the reports and found that the individual had ended up in the reports because they were caught in the middle of someone else’s accident, then measuring the person’s driving ability based on accident reports would not have a level of validity.

  1. 6. What is performance management, and how does it differ from performance evaluation?

Performance management is a system that emphasizes the link between individual behavior and organizational strategies and goals by defining performance in the context of those goals by managers and the people who report to them (Landy & Conte, 2013). A performance evaluation is designed to evaluate the performance of an employee in their current role within an organization or company. The main difference between performance management and performance evaluation is that performance management is about managing the performance of employees in relation to the organization’s goals, while a performance evaluation is about testing the performance of employees and rating the employee on their level of performance.

  1. 7. Define three types of bias that can occur when rating others, and provide specific ways to remedy (or minimize) that bias.

A rating bias is a wide variety of distortions in performance appraisal ratings; this is different from rating errors in the sense that bias refers to the systematic effect of some irrelevant variable on the mean rating while a rating error is an actual error, but it can also be caused by a rating bias (Murphy, n.d.). The central tendency error occurs when appraisers decide to play it safe by rating all employees as average performers so as to avoid giving anyone a high or low rating (MSG, n.d.). One way to minimize the central tendency error is to have individual meetings where the employee and their manager could discuss their performance evaluation; this would give the employee a chance to point out anything that is suspicious or inaccurate to them. The leniency/severity error occurs when the appraiser allows their personal bias towards leniency or strictness to influence the way that they that they rate the employees; this error causes employees to be given ratings that are either higher or lower than they deserve. The leniency/severity error could be reduced by informing appraisers that their appraisals will be reviewed for both reliability and validity by having each employee evaluated by two different appraisers. The halo effect is when a person is appraised on the sole basis of a positive quality, feature, or trait perceived by the appraiser. The halo effect could be reduced by having all appraisers made aware of the halo effect and to mandate that all appraisers must receive frame-of-reference training. Frame-of-reference training is based on the belief that an appraiser needs a context for providing a rating. This training involves: “providing information on the multidimensional nature of performance, ensuring that raters understand the meaning of anchors on the scale, engaging in practice rating exercises, and providing feedback on practice exercises” (Landy & Conte, 2013, p 224).

  1. 8. What is adverse impact, and why should an organization focuses on minimizing it?

Most of the legal and ethical issues revolve around adverse impact; adverse impact is a “type of discrimination that acknowledges that the employer may not have intended to discriminate against a plaintiff, but an employer practice did have an adverse impact on the group to which the plaintiff belongs” (Landy & Conte, 2013, p. 269). Organizations should focus on minimizing adverse impact because it is the center of many potential legal and ethical issues which could end up costing the organization a lot of money in both legal fees and in settlement.

  1. 9. Distinguish among justice, fairness, and trust in the workplace.

Justice, fairness, and trust in the workplace are all very similar, yet each has aspects that set it apart. Organizational justice is a composition of organizational procedures, outcomes, and interpersonal interactions (Landy & Conte, 2013). Fairness is the expectation of everyone being treated the same way no matter the situation. Trust is when a person believes they know the way in which a person or an organization will act on some future occasion based upon previous interactions with that person or organization. In most workplaces justice, fairness, and trust are linked together in that people trust that they will be treated fairly and when they are not treated fairly, their trust is broken and they desire justice.

  1. 10. Imagine that you are a manager in a large retail organization, and you need to hire a new cashier. Outline the steps you would take when selecting, hiring, and placing this individual. What measures will you take to try to avoid any potential “pitfalls” during the selection process?

If I was a manager in a large retail organization and I needed to hire a new cashier, I would begin the process by having a job appraisal performed with the main goal being to provide information on the job in order to attract qualified applicants while discouraging applicants that are unqualified from applying (Bohlander, Snell, & Morris, 2013). The job analysis also ensures that the job description shown to potential applicants is updated as needed in order to be accurate (Performing Job Analysis, 2013). It would be my hope that the job description created from the job appraisal would cause only qualified people to apply for the position; this would prevent the “pitfall” of having to review the resumes of unqualified applicants and wasting time on interviewing people who would not be qualified for the job. Once I had an accurate job description I would post it to hiring websites similar to Indeed and Snagajob. Once people began applying for the position I would review the applications and resumes for knowledge and past work experiences. Ideally I would want to hire a person with past work experience as a cashier along with positive references. Once I had selected an individual, I would have them shadow a cashier who had worked at the retail store for a few years and who had experience at training new employees for one to two weeks depending of the suggestions of the senior cashier and the person’s previous work knowledge. I would check in with the new hire at the end of their shift each day for their first week and then once a week for their first two months to ensure that they understood everything, were not having any problems, questions or concerns. At the end of the one or two week period I would place the cashier in the position they applied for, but near an experienced employee who I would instruct to keep an eye on the new employee and offer them assistance if they needed it. Through training the employee, having them work with a senior employee, being placed near an experienced employee, and through my own check-ins with the employee I would ensure that they had multiple connections and routes that they could go through to get assistance. This would ensure that the employee would not feel isolated or concerned about asking questions or seeking assistance.


Bohlander, G., Snell, S., & Morris, S. (2015). Managing human resources (17th ed.). Thomson/South-Western.

Go2HR. (n.d.). Leadership vs Management. Retrieved December 17, 2015, from

Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2013). Work in the 21st Century: An Introduction to Industrial and

Organizational Psychology, 4th Edition.

MSG. (n.d.). Performance Appraisal Biases. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from

Murphy, K. (n.d.). Blackwell Reference Online Rating Bias. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from


Performing Job Analysis. (2013). Retrieved December 17, 2015, from


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