Diversity and Spirituality

Diversity and Spirituality

For some time now, a few of us at the Center for Workplace Diversity have been discussing the connections between diversity and spirituality. To date, articles on spirituality have been published in top tier journals, such as the Journal of Managerial Psychology, the Journal of Organizational Change Management, and Leadership Quarterly, to mention a few. More importantly, the Academy of Management has an active special interest group on Management, Religion and Spirituality that publishes the Journal of Management, Spiritualty and Religion (DOI:10.1080/14766086.2015.1078586).  

Yet in our continuing discussion, there comes a point where documenting our ongoing discourse and inviting other scholars into the discourse starts to add value to the Center’s objectives. Accordingly, and thanks to Dr. Aquino, we are establishing this blog as a way to continue sharing ideas, discoveries and research that can help guide our efforts toward a more definitive approach to spirituality research.

Welcome to our blog, and looking forward to our continued discussions.


Carlos Tasso Aquino's picture Carlos Tasso Aquino | November 12, 2015 2:22 pm MST

I am excited about this new blog.

Good luck!


Ramon Moran's picture Ramon Moran | November 13, 2015 12:44 pm MST

Recently in an exchange of email correspondence the question of locating validated instruments for measuring workplace spirituality came up. This is understandable partly because we recognize the elusiveness of such assessments due to the qualitative and descriptive nature of the construct. Having previously employed the Preference for a Spirituality Type Inventory (Sager; 1990), I am curious to know what instruments are becoming more useful in this burgeoning field. There are not many instruments out there that measure workplace spirituality, as often they may measure religious values or religious well being/orientation. According to Miller & Ewest (2011), research on scales for measuring spirituality “has been directed towards personal fulfillment, faith maturity and wellness (Hill and Hood, 1999; Moberg, 2002). Academics are still trying to define basic terms, determine standards for measurement and interpretation, and explore the interrelationships between various variables and the impact on organizational behavior, leadership, and performance….”

Moreover, Miller & Ewest report that though the research has begun to address important aspects of research scale development “…it has been it has been limited in its applicability to workplace contexts, does not address diverse religious traditions, and falls short of understanding how and the degree to which individual or collective spirituality integrates and manifests itself in the workplace.”

Because of the varied research and dimensions of spirituality thus far identified, there are obvious difficulties to reaching a consensus on what, first, spirituality is, and secondly, how spirituality in the workplace may look like. For example, Ashforth and Pratt (2003) suggest three dimensions to spirituality at work: transcendence of self, holism and harmony, and growth. Finally, Milliman et al., (2003) identify three dimensions of workplace spirituality: meaningful work, sense of community, and alignment with organizational values.

During a time of initial planning for a proposed empirical study of workplace spirituality, I came across the Spirit at Work Scale (Ashmos & Duchon; 2000) which aims at examining one’s spirituality as dimensions of inner life, meaningful work, and community, but with also within the context of the employee’s organizational perception. In parametric testing the Cronbach alphas are high and the key instrument factors have acceptable levels of reliability (Ashmos & Duchon; 2000).

This developing domain of research is promising and it may be that more empirical studies on workplace spirituality may lead to further conceptualization and development of additional dimensions and scales that would complement the qualitative descriptive literature.

Ashmos, D.P. & Duchon, D. (2000). Spirituality at Work: A conceptualization and measure; Kpurnal of Management Inquiry; June 200; 9, 2; ABI/INFORM Global pp. 134-145.

Miller, D.W. & Ewest, T. (2011). The Present State of Workplace Spirituality: A literature review considering context, theory, and measurement/assessment. Academy of Management Annual Meeting, San Antonio, Texas; August 12-16, 2011.

Ronald Rojas's picture Ronald Rojas | November 15, 2015 8:19 am MST

This is a great intro to the topic and current status of spirituality instruments. In fact, I attended the presentation given by Miller and Ewest (2011) at the Academy of Management in San Antonio. It was one of the factors that prompted me to re-validate an instrument created in 2002 to measure “spirituality” as an independent construct from “religion”. One of the constant discussion points during the meetings of the Management, Spirituality and Religion special interest group (AoM) is the scarcity of empirical studies, and this became the second reason for revalidating. A third reason for re-validating is not knowing how the psychometric properties established in 2002 (Rojas, 2003) would behave after ten years. Would internal consistency and reliability remain at its original values or would the construct drift into something entirely different?

So right now I’ve started a re-validation analysis using data from many of the studies that have used the instrument over time and have reported the data. With n=1,460 the Cronbach Alpha came out at 0.945, which is a robust measure of it's internal consistency. But this time I’ve also included Factor Analysis to the re-validation. This analysis revealed five components, all consistent with the theoretical framework. The component that explained the highest percentage of variance (40%) was the interpersonal dynamics of spirituality. In other words, the instrument validates what the literature states about Spirituality, that it is highly relational.

Two topics of interest emerge from the discussion so far. First of all, what are the best instruments to assess spirituality, and what qualitative approach seems best fit so complement the quantitative approach? For sure, a quantitative approach alone misses many other aspects of spiritual development in the workplace. The second topic is the relational value of Spirituality, because it’s also a phenomenon we see in Diversity. But there doesn’t seem to be any modeling or theoretical frameworks to date that attempt to explain the spirituality-diversity common ground. Here a study on correlating diversity and spirituality would be needed.

Any comments , observations or insights on these topics?

Ramon Moran's picture Ramon Moran | December 4, 2015 8:46 pm MST

I can see the value of what you have done in re-validating your instrument Ron (BTW, what is the name of your instrument and is it availiable online?). The very strong alphas are reassuring of its reliability and that means a lot when it comes to measuring a construct that is pretty elusive like spirituality. If I may ask, what was the basic paradigm behind the instrument? I know you mentioned the factor of interpersonal dynamics as a function of workplace spirituality, which very cleary ties into the sense of community that has been identified in the literature. A robust workplace spirituality would contribute to workplace diversity and community because of the core values that strive for harmony, inner peace, order, and wholeness...when it comes to using a qualitative method I would prefer the face to face interview or case study phenomenlogical study. I think spirituality can be best understood by those individuals self-reporting and describing. But the workplace context is very important to consider when developing a research design. There are bound to be different expressions of workplace spirituality and even diverse conceptions of what it is in a company or organization. The need for empirical studies is crucial to help in further identfying or coming to terms with common factors, dynamics and values.

Ronald Rojas's picture Ronald Rojas | November 17, 2015 3:03 pm MST

Just had a request come in from two Swedish students from the Mid-Sweden University for using this spirituality assessment scale. I have data from when the instrument was translated and used in Lithuania and in Pakistani. Both reported Alphas in the 0.90s. Once the Sweden numbers come in, I'll also add to the Factor Analysis but more importantly, there is a cultural dimension to be explored in more detail. The instrument was designed and validated to be used regardless of religious affiliation, but now I’m wondering if it also holds true across Western cultures. If so, this could also favor the use of the instrument in a culturally diverse setting.  Comments anyone?

Ramon Moran's picture Ramon Moran | December 4, 2015 8:58 pm MST

Ron, this is great news. Seeing how the instrument performs within other cultures certainly may establish it as a reliable cross cultural assessment instrument. It seems like spirituality shares many universal values (while religious systems tend to be more dogmatic about) and in varied cultures it would take different expressions, I believe. Perhaps a follow-up study to consider (if you haven't already compiled the data) is to test the instrument in countries where Hofstede discovered the six cultural dimensions which most countries are characterized by.  It would be especially interesting to know what workplace spirituality looks like in countries that are antithetical in factors like individualism vs. collectivism or uncertainty avoidance, etc.

Ronald Rojas's picture Ronald Rojas | December 3, 2015 4:33 pm MST

I’m still reflecting on the possibility of conducting an exploratory study on diversity and spirituality. I have a spirituality instrument, but I’m still investigating (a) which would be an adequate diversity assessment instrument and (b) what would be a meaningful population.  For diversity, I was contemplating the “Workplace Diversity Survey”, a 20 item Llikert (5 scale) instrument.  And maybe the population could be two mid-size organizations, one for-profit and one non-profit, hopefully a sample size of between 250-400 total participants.  Sound like a project appropriate for our Center?

Ronald Rojas's picture Ronald Rojas | December 10, 2015 1:48 pm MST

This just in… the two Swedish students from the Mid-Sweden University finished data collection with n=71 participants. Even after translating the instrument into Swedish, they report an Alpha of 0.889, which continues to reinforce this instrument. So now in adding these 71 respondents, there are 1,528 participants. A factor analysis reveals 5 factors, accounting for 59% of the variance, and the largest of the five components lists all the questions in the instrument (highest score item 20 with .721 and lowest is item 30 with .429) which means all the 30 questions in the instrument support the same component, which measures the relational effects of spirituality. Now time to start composing an article for publication.  

Crystal Davis's picture Crystal Davis | February 22, 2016 1:48 pm MST

Good afternoon, Dr. Rojas and colleagues,

Thank you for this dialogue! I For my dissertation study on spirituality and servant leadership behavior, I decided to use the Assessment of Spirituality of Religious Sentiments Scale (ASPIRES) (Piedmont, 1999). 

The ASPIRES survey measures two dimensions of numinous functioning: Religious Sentiments and Spiritual Transcendence (Piedmont, 2010).  For the purpose of this study, self-transcendence was measured by the ASPIRES Self-Transcendence scale (ASPIRES ST).  The Religious Sentiments scale fell outside the scope of my study. Spiritual Transcendence represents a fundamental, inherent quality of the individual.  Piedmont (2010) considered this construct as a motive.  Based on the ASPIRES survey, self-transcendence is a construct that is motivational in nature and gauges a person’s sense of creating an individualized awareness for living (Piedmont, 2010), and incorporates three concepts in its measure.  Self-transcendence is viewed as an aspect of deinitiono.  The ASPIRES scale assesses each concept by asking questions that tap into each concept, and provides total scale scores which are used to represent aspects of self-transcendence.  These concepts make up the ASPIRES Self Transcendence Scales and were used to measure self-transcendence among leaders.  

The ASPIRES survey was selected for the purposes of this study based on three major reasons; (a) There is substantial evidence of structural and predictive validity (Piedmont, 2001), (b) This validity is generalizable in religious organizations and world cultures (Piedmont & Leach, 2002), and (c) Research studies revealed the ASPIRES scale is a nondenominational scale that is relevant and appropriate for a wide range of religious and spiritual denominations, including non-religious and agnostic believers (Piedmont, 2010).  Piedmont (2001) developed the ASPIRES scale to capture individual experiences of discovering purpose, aligning it with the Five Factor Model, to represent areas of spirituality within the Five Factor Model personality domains. 

The ASPIRES (Piedmont, 2004a) survey is a newly revised, long version, 35-item, 5-point Likert-type scale self-report questionnaire ranging from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree).  The ASPIRES scale was developed to identify aspects of spirituality that underlie all religious and or spiritual traditions. 

In this way, the ASPIRES scale incorporates specific operationalized definitions for religious and spiritual constructs (Piedmont, Werdel, & Fernando, 2009).  Spiritual transcendence represents a motivational construct that reflects a person’s heightened sense of a broader personal meaning for life (Piedmont, 2010).  Those who endorse high levels of self-transcendence tend to find a meaning for life that is broader than an immediate sense of time and place (Piedmont, 2010).  Transcendent people develop a sense of enlightened awareness and feel attuned to nature and communities (Piedmont, 2010).

Subscales and meaning of scoring.  High scores on the Prayer Fulfillment scale reflected an individual who appears to have an inner sense of peace and appears emotionally centered (Piedmont, 2010).  Quiet and reticent, high scorers remain focused and content on life's activities (Piedmont, 2010).  Those high on Universality are humble and non-assuming (Piedmont, 2010).  There is a personal sense of generosity, both in terms of tangible goods and emotional resources (Piedmont, 2010).  There is the perception that those high scorers are optimistic about the future and endeavor to realize their hopes for a more inclusive world (Piedmont, 2010).

Individuals scoring high on Connectedness evidenced an inner joy and happiness that reaches out to embrace others, individually and communally (Piedmont, 2010).  There is a caring acceptance of others and organizations (Piedmont, 2010).  Individuals high on Connectedness reject stereotypical images and instead embrace a hopeful optimism for the future (Piedmont, 2010).

Concerning the Religious Sentiment scales, individuals scoring high on Religiosity possibly were responsive to current modes of behavior (Piedmont, 2010).  Not arrogant or rigid, these individuals instead willingly accept and comply with expectations placed upon them (Piedmont, 2010).  These individuals are not merely conformists; they are realistic thinkers who see the value of current institutions for reaching their spiritual goals (Piedmont, 2010). 

Finally, raters of the individuals scoring high on the Religious Crisis scale thought the individuals were emotionally liable and plagued with many negative emotions (Piedmont, 2010).  High scorers appeared to lack a fundamental emotional adaptability (Piedmont, 2010).  Individuals with high scores may have an abrasive interpersonal style that makes membership in any type of group tenuous at best (Piedmont, 2010).

These short descriptions I hope lends insight to provide greater interpretive breadth to these scales.  Each of the ASPIRES scales creates a unique social impression that further illuminates the numinous qualities reflected in the scales (Piedmont, 2010).  Like the Religious Sentiments dimension of the ASPIRES scale, each of the subscales of the Spiritual Transcendence dimension was summed and t-scores were computed (Piedmont, 2010).  Individuals who scored low on Prayer Fulfillment do not concern themselves with meditative activities and prayer but distract themselves with his or her immediate lives (Piedmont, 2010).  Low scores on the Universality dimension reflected a self-reliant attitude (Piedmont, 2010).  A we versus them mentality may form (Piedmont, 2010).

Individuals who scored average for the Connectedness dimension believed in relationships.  Individuals who scored low scores reflected challenges belonging to a group and tend to examine life from their own life story (Piedmont, 2010).  Finally, individuals who scored low on the Spiritual Transcendence Scale (ST) are more concerned with the materialism and do not recognize life beyond the moment (Piedmont, 2010).  The t-scores for the affiliated students were as follows: 41.64 for Prayer Fulfillment, 29.46 for Universality, 20.50 for Connectedness, and 32.50 for the total scale score (Piedmont, 2010).  Conversely, the non-affiliated student t-scores were 40.18 for Prayer Fulfillment, 28.37 for Universality, 25.28 for Connectedness, and 32.45 for the total scale score (Piedmont, 2010). For the purpose of the study, the total score was comprised of the ST Scale items and not the Religious Sentiments scale.

I wish I would have been a part of this group then as I researched various spirituality scales to determine a best fit for my study. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the survey I used in my study and I am excited to use yours in a future study!

Best Regards,

Dr. Crystal Davis

Piedmont, R. L. (1999).  Does spirituality represent the sixth factor of personality? Spiritual transcendence and the five-factor model.  Journal of Personality, 67, 985-1013.  doi: 10.1234/12345678

Piedmont, R. L. (2004a).  Assessment of Spirituality and Religious Sentiments: Technical manual. Baltimore, MD. Piedmont.

Piedmont, R. L. (2010).  Assessment of spirituality and religious sentiments: Technical Manual (2nd ed.). Timonium, MD: Piedmont.

Crystal Davis's picture Crystal Davis | February 23, 2016 9:20 am MST

Servant Leadership and Character (Pillar I)

"All leadership development is character development."

~Stephen Covey

Note: I am excited and thankful to Dr. Ron Rojas and the Spirituality in the Workplace team for allowing me the opportunity to use this platform over the next few weeks to discuss a topic that is near and dear to my heart and that is Servant Leadership. In this series, we will review and highlight the seven pillars of servant leadership as described in the book, The Seven pillar of Servant Leadership: Practicing the Wisdom of Leading by Serving by Don Frick and James Sipe (2009). Please join us on this journey into Servant Leadership and learn how this leadership style can enhance and empower leaders across all industries to engage followers more authentically. Comments are always welcome!

The first pillar of servant leadership, as discussed in James Sipe and Don Frick's book, Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, is that a Servant-Leader is a Person of Character. A Servant-Leader is one who makes insightful, moral, and high-principled decisions. More than these, a Servant-Leader;

  • Is honest, trustworthy, authentic, and humble.
  • Leads by conscience, not by ego.
  • Is filled with a depth of awareness, spirit, and enthusiasm.
  • Is committed to serving something greater than self.

Three of the primary core competencies of a Servant-Leader are integrity, humility and service to a higher purpose. How then is character defined? Is it defined by the ability to allow one's conscience- whenever it decides to kick in- to inform one's behavior and move the person to make the necessary decision? Or is it determined by an individual's flawless record of right and moral decisions? Well, I would say that we all have made mistakes.

Sipe and Frick (2009) highlighted a story to illustrate this point. Jane (a pseudonym) worked for a huge global retail and underhandedly used a consultant's detailed project proposal to create her own training initiatives. Jane couldn't sleep at night. She knew she had done something unethical, and it bothered her. In the end, she called the consultant to tell him that he would not get the contract. She did not anticipate his tears. His small consulting firm had made the finalist list to work with her global retail giant, and he had provided everything she asked for in each call Jane made. He was devastated at the news. Jane thought she could satisfy her conscience by compensating the consultant for his time and efforts. In the end, Jane did not let her conscience be her guide. She even received an enormous bonus from the supervisor who helped her rationalize her actions.

A Servant-Leader lives, loves, and leads by conscience- the internal moral awareness of what is right and what is wrong. Stephen Covey lamented that conscience is the difference between leadership that works and leadership that endures. Character can be taught and built. As a matter of fact, Joseph Badaracco said that we form our character in defining moments – many in private. Others never witness the effects of private defining moments. But when they do, they become "moments of truth (MOT)." Many times a positive MOT results in a purchase, a satisfied customer, repeat business, referrals, and good will. On the other hand, a negative MOT damages credibility, reduces trust, and compromise's the leader's effectiveness.

As a young leader, I have had many moments of truth to build my character. When I think back, I realize had I not made some mistakes I would not have been able to build the character I have today. Now instead of looking back with regret, I look back and see how far I've come in regards to character building. After all, there are many "values in action" that form the character of a Servant-Leader; maintaining integrity, demonstrating humility and service to a higher purpose. Do you have a MOT that helped to define your character? Many leadership writers have suggested that a person of character is one whose compass stays focused to "True North." Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic said,

"True North is the internal compass that guides you successfully through life. It represents who you are as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point- your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track as a leader. Your True North is based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions, and motivation, the sources of satisfaction in your life."

This week, contemplate your True North. It will never lead you astray!

To Character,

Dr. Crystal

Sipe, J. W., & Frick, D. M. (2009).  Seven pillar of servant leadership: Practicing the wisdom of leading by serving.  Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

© Copyright 2015 ~Dr. Crystal J. Davis. All Rights Reserved.

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Ronald Rojas

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