Research and Teamwork
Your team’s published research focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Why was your student team drawn to the topic?
We had two major summer projects: one to develop a framework for an integrative team training, and another one for the coding of team processes with behaviorally anchored rating scales. Although we had a range of tasks, the lab was drawn together by one purpose: to maximize the benefits of diversity in organizational team settings. Our lab mission is “to understand and improve team dynamics at work, especially those characterized by diversity.” In practicing what we preach, we applied a number of strategies to continue to foster team trust in this now virtual platform, share parts of our identities with each other, and make connections between our passions and the workplace literature.
Why are more diverse approaches to teaching important to you?
I know what it feels like to be part of different worlds, navigating unknown terrains, and finding a way to belong. I like to foster that to students by providing them with an outlet to allow them to make mistakes, learn about each other, and develop skills while in a psychologically safe environment. It’s such a privilege to be able to witness people’s growth happening right in front of our eyes, and recognizing what each person needs—including how to better support them—takes time.
Diversity and inclusion are at the core of all facets of my work. As an example, for teaching, we are drawing from real data to illustrate some of the statistical tests that are used in psychology. Students will be able to come up with their own questions and analysis related to diversity while they apply their statistical knowledge.
What personal experiences did your team bring to the research?
We spent time sharing news articles, movies, books, and other reflections as we evolved in our anti-racism journey. It made what we do even more meaningful, as we seek to help people to work more collaboratively, understand different perspectives, and actually leverage diversity to achieve positive outcomes. We also saw a shift from having to convince people about the necessity for diversity, inclusion, and teamwork in the workplace to applying an overwhelming amount of knowledge seekers (CEOs, celebrities, company statements) on the matter.
What are the biggest takeaways from your most recent research?
Although overt workplace racism did not begin with COVID-19, the pandemic has catalyzed and exacerbated its effects.* If we really want to see a change, this will be an ongoing effort.
We cannot assume everyone’s needs are the same. Any student who has a marginalized identity should be carefully supported, celebrated, understood, and respected.
Structure programs and outlets so people know where and when to chime in. Revisit these practices often, as their effectiveness is likely going to change. Keep an open dialogue. Recognize it will be uncomfortable at times, but well worth it. Enjoy the journey!
Jennifer Feitosa is an assistant professor of psychological sciences and director of METRICS Lab. Some of the research she did—Design and (Virtual) Implementation of an Integrative Team Belonging Training with M. Gloria Gonzalez-Morales—led to a two-year funded award (BLAIS Challenge Award, Claremont Graduate University).