Investigating diversity climate, leadership styles and employee attitudes in a selection of South African companies
McCallaghan , S.
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Due to globalisation, organisations are striving to become more diverse. Organisations are specifically attracted to diversification due to the advantages associated with increased diversity. Unfortunately, the opposite is also a reality; increased diversity has also been associated with negative employee and organisational outcomes. Due to the increased diversification and advantages associated with diversity, both organisations and researchers have been turning their attention towards how employees form perspectives on how organisations are managing and valuing diversity – also known as diversity climate. Although not a new concept, the concept of diversity climate has, however, seen limited research, especially within unique diverse and transitional environments where attempts to correct historic imbalances are intentionally stimulated, such as South Africa. Current literature on diversity climate suggests that conducive forms of leadership would also be associated with constructive perspectives of diversity climate, while positive perspectives of diversity climate have also been related to improved employee attitudes, such as job satisfaction, organisational commitment on non-intention to quit. However, literature is silent on the indirect effects of diversity climate on the relationship between leadership and employee attitudes within unique diversity environments. There seems to be a research gap in terms of which conducive form of leadership would contribute more towards diversity climate and what the relation of a poorer form of leadership would be with diversity climate from a single investigation. Current literature on diversity climate which examined relationships and direct effects on organisational commitment, intention to quit and job satisfaction has also been restricted to Western and European samples. Therefore, it creates an opportunity for examinations within transitional and unique diversity environments to contribute towards the current body of knowledge of diversity climate. The present study therefore proposes and aims to test independent mediation models whereby conducive forms of leadership (transformational and servant leadership) with a form of destructive leadership (autocratic leadership) are considered as proposed antecedents; and employee attitudes (organisational commitment, employees' intention to quit and job satisfaction) are considered as dependant variables with diversity climate as proposed mediator. The study further aims at exploring the relationships between the investigated leadership styles, diversity climate and employee attitudes. Examination of direct effects of leadership styles, diversity climate and employee attitudes also formed part of the investigations. The study followed a quantitative approach and the design was cross-sectional. In total 230 responses were drawn from a convenience sample. All respondents were employees at South African organisations based in the Gauteng Province. Organisations represented in the sample group were from the banking and financial sector, retail sector, and manufacturing and industrial sectors. The diversity climate was assessed through a one-dimensional diversity climate measuring instrument. Key behaviours associated with transformational and servant leadership assessed these forms of leadership. The form of destructive leadership was determined by a self-developed autocratic leadership instrument. Job satisfaction was measured by the short version of the Minnesota Job Satisfaction questionnaire; organisational commitment and intention to quit through the specific sections of the PSYCONES questionnaire. The results from the South African sample group reveal both transformational leadership and servant leadership to be associated with a constructive diversity climate. Non-autocratic leadership further demonstrated adequate properties to be associated with a positive perspective of diversity climate. The results further demonstrated that the proposed conducive forms of leadership (transformational and servant leadership) would be positively associated with organisational commitment and job satisfaction, while an inverse relationship was observed for employees' intention to quit. Non-autocratic leadership was also positively associated with organisational commitment and job satisfaction, while an inverse relationship was found with intention to quit. The examinations further found evidence that diversity climate would be positively connected with organisational commitment and job satisfaction, with an opposite relationship reported with employees' intentions to quit their current occupation. Both transformational and servant leadership demonstrated significant direct effects on diversity climate, with non-autocratic leadership also revealing a significant direct effect on diversity climate. A constructive diversity climate further significantly predicted organisational commitment and job satisfaction. With regards to the direct effects of transformational leadership on employee attitudes, the results indicate transformational leadership to significantly predict organisational commitment, job satisfaction and lower intentions to quit. Similar findings were observed for servant leadership, which significantly predicted all employee attitudes under investigation. However, sufficient proof could only be found for non-autocratic leadership predicting higher levels of job satisfaction and non-intentions to quit. The results further indicate that diversity climate would have an indirect effect on the relationship between transformational leadership and organisational commitment; diversity climate also indirectly affected the relationship between servant leadership and organisational commitment. An indirect effect of diversity climate was also found on the relationship between non-autocratic leadership and organisational commitment, and non-autocratic leadership and job satisfaction. A number of contributions were made by the current investigation. Firstly, the results indicate the sample group reported positive perspectives with regards to diversity climate which should be an indication that organisations are doing well in terms of managing and valuing diversity. Secondly, the study further contributed to current literature on the concept of diversity climate with empirical evidence that both forms of conducive leadership would positively impact diversity climate, with servant leadership indicating a greater result. An additional input was made with evidence from a South African sample group that non-autocratic leadership would also positively impact diversity climate. Thirdly, the South African sample demonstrated that a conducive diversity climate would also be associated and influence organisational commitment, intentions to quit and job satisfaction, similar to previous Western and European suggestions; therefore confirming the valuable consequences of a constructive diversity climate across other diversity environments. Finally, as a direct response to calls from international scholars, the present study found evidence that a diversity climate would indirectly affect the relationship between transformational leadership and organisational commitment; diversity climate also demonstrated an indirect effect on the relationship between servant leadership and organisational commitment. The relationships between non-autocratic leadership and organisational commitment were also influenced by diversity, including the relationship between non-autocratic leadership and job satisfaction.
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