The benefits of inclusive organizational behavior: Why diversity climate improves mental health and retention among women during a crisis. By: Lacerenza, Christina N.; Johnson, Stefanie K.; Lambert, Brittany and Van Wagoner, H. Phoenix. 2024. Journal of Organizational Behavior.

The sudden proliferation of virtual work and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in mental health concerns and increased workplace exits, particularly for women. We examine how inclusive organizational behavior in the form of a positive diversity climate impacts stereotype threat, anxiety, and turnover intentions. Across two studies, we find support for the relationship between diversity climate and stereotype threat for women which relates to anxiety and turnover intentions. Capitalizing on a naturalistic experiment created by COVID-19, we find women report significant increases in anxiety and turnover intentions after the initial stay-at-home orders. We explore the impact to mental health further and find that women working in an organization with a low diversity climate exhibited symptoms that increased to severe levels of anxiety (based on validated clinical cut-offs) after the initial stay-at-home orders. In contrast, women working in a more positive diversity climate did not experience as drastic an increase in anxiety. We interpret these findings through the lens of the job demands–resources model; as a critical job resource, diversity climate reduces gender-specific job demands for women (i.e., stereotype threat), providing them the ability to cope when they are faced with unforeseen job demands.