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Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination at work can significantly impact an individual’s developmental themes in adulthood, as it intersects with various aspects of personal growth and well-being. The developmental themes of adulthood, often explored within developmental psychology, include factors such as identity, intimacy, generativity, and integrity, as outlined in Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development and further elaborated upon by other theorists. Unemployment, underemployment, and a hostile work environment can significantly negatively impact a person’s ability to progress on the developmental tasks of middle adulthood. These tasks are related to career, family, and personal growth (Newman & Newman, 2017). Accordingly, regarding career and work-related tasks, unemployment or underemployment can disrupt an individual’s career trajectory. It may lead to feelings of stagnation and fulfillment, which can hinder pursuing career-related goals and achievements. Secondly, these challenges often result in financial instability, making it challenging to meet financial obligations and save for the future. This can create stress and anxiety that interferes with other developmental tasks. Lastly, a hostile work environment can negatively impact job satisfaction, making it difficult for individuals to find fulfillment and meaning in their work. This, in turn, can affect overall life satisfaction.

Regarding family, financial stress caused by unemployment or underemployment can strain marital relationships, leading to conflicts and decreased satisfaction in the marriage (Newman & Newman, 2017). In a hostile work environment, stress from work can spill over into personal relationships. In addition, raising children becomes a challenge due to a lack of finances. Lastly, concerning personal growth, unemployment and underemployment can erode an individual’s self-esteem and self-identity, especially if they tie a significant part of their identity to their career. A hostile work environment can lead to feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. All these can lead to a midlife crisis.

Discrimination in the workplace can significantly impact an individual’s ability to resolve the crisis of generativity versus stagnation in several ways, including by hindering generativity. Notably, discrimination can limit career advancement and professional growth opportunities, making it challenging for individuals to make meaningful contributions to their field or society. They may be excluded from decision-making processes or denied access to resources that would enable them to leave a positive legacy. Secondly, discrimination in the workplace can lead to emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, and anger. These negative emotions can overshadow the ability to focus on generativity and may lead individuals to withdraw from their efforts to positively impact future generations. In addition, workplace discrimination can erode an individual’s self-esteem and self-worth. This diminished sense of self can hinder their confidence in pursuing generative activities and contributing to the betterment of others.

According to Churchwell et al. (2020), the American Heart Association published statements addressing disparities in various illnesses among racial and ethnic groups in America; however, these statements have not adequately recognized structural racism as a fundamental cause of poor health and disparities in said illnesses. For example, discrimination based on race in the workplace can have a significant impact on health disparities. The link between workplace discrimination and health disparities is complex and multifaceted, but several key mechanisms illustrate how these two factors are interconnected. First, workplace discrimination, whether it’s overt or subtle, can lead to chronic stress for victims. The stress resulting from racial discrimination can contribute to mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and lower overall psychological well-being. Prolonged exposure to stress can have physiological effects on the body, leading to health disparities. Additionally, chronic stress can lead to various physical health problems, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and other stress-related conditions. The cumulative impact of stress can exacerbate existing health disparities between racial groups.


Churchwell, K., Elkind, M. S., Benjamin, R. M., Carson, A. P., Chang, E. K., Lawrence, W., & American Heart Association. (2020). Call to action: structural racism as a fundamental driver of health disparities: A presidential advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation142(24), e454-e468.

Newman, B. M., & Newman, P. R. (2017). Development through life: A psychosocial approach. Cengage Learning.


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Discrimination in the Workplace

Discrimination in the Workplace

What is the relationship between discrimination in the workplace and the developmental themes of middle adulthood? What impact might unemployment, underemployment, or a hostile work environment have on a person’s ability to make progress on the developmental tasks of this period of life? How might discrimination in the workplace influence the resolution of the crisis of generativity versus stagnation? Additionally, tied in the article Structural racism as a fundamental driver of Health Disparities, how does discrimination in the workplace tie into health disparities?

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