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Crossing the Threshold: The Spillover of Community Racial Diversity and Diversity Climate to the Workplace


  • We thank our Action Editor, Hui Liao, and the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive and helpful comments and suggestions during the review process.

  • An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Management, Boston, MA, August 2012, was selected for the Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings, and received the Dorothy Harlow Best Paper Award in the Gender and Diversity in Organizations Division. The research described in this article was supported by grants received from the University of Wisconsin Institute for Race and Ethnicity and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Institute for Diversity Education and Leadership (IDEAL). This study was also supported by the Lubar School of Business Roger L. Fitzsimonds Distinguished Scholar Award.

Belle Rose Ragins, Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, 3202 North Maryland Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53211;


We examined the spillover of community diversity to the workplace using a sample of 2,045 professionals living in communities across the U.S. Spillover effects were examined using 2 measures of community diversity: the degree to which employees were racially or ethnically similar to others in their community and perceptions of their community's diversity climate. Aligned with theories of group threat and racial segregation, Whites who were racially dissimilar to their communities expressed stronger intentions to leave their communities, and ultimately their workplaces, than those living in primarily White communities. However, community diversity climate offset these relationships; Whites who lived in communities that were racially dissimilar to them, but experienced the climate as inclusive, had lower moving intentions than those in communities that were experienced as racially intolerant. In contrast, for people of color, community diversity climate, rather than racial similarity to the community, predicted moving intentions. For both groups, the diversity climate in the community predicted moving intentions, which in turn predicted work turnover intentions, job search behaviors, and physical symptoms of stress at work. These findings suggest that the intention to leave one's community, and ultimately one's workplace, is influenced by community experiences and the community's perceived diversity climate.