A recent study suggests that white staff members at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have positive experiences working in the blackdominated cultures of these campuses.
This finding, based on a survey of white student affairs professionals working at HBCUs, runs contrary to prior research on social integration in work environments. In previous studies, people who are different from their coworkers reported feeling uncomfortable in work settings.
In addition, while research links social integration to positive work experiences and high levels of job satisfaction, it also finds that heterogeneous workgroups have lower levels of social integration.
"This study comes to a different conclusion," said study co-author Jerlando F.L. Jackson, professor of higher and post secondary at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "It indicates that in a black-dominated culture, Whites have little or no trouble socially integrating."
A Pilot Study of the Workplace Experiences for White Student Affairs Professionals at Historically Black Colleges and Universities is co-authored by Jackson and Brandon D. Daniels, a research associate and doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It appears in NASAP Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1.
Several other significant findings about white student affairs professionals at HBCUs came out of this study. According to the study:
They had positive, productive relationships with African American counterparts.
Most had established personal relationships with African American coworkers.
They depicted HBCUs as great institutions in which to work and felt that working at an HBCU helped their careers.
They strongly asserted that their race did not matter at their respective institutions.
They were able to establish a broad network and support system both inside and outside of their respective universities.
They reported seeing at least two other white staff members each day.
"This study points us toward several key areas for further study that could enlighten personnel policy and practice at both HBCUs and predominantly white institutions," said Jackson, who is also a faculty affiliate at the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE).