While previous research has focused on the role of employers for ethno-racial workplace segregation, we focus on the role of employees. We study employee attitudes, discuss their potential to desegregate the labour market and test whether they can be altered through social influence. We are particularly interested in gendered ethno-racial attitudes, and test the relevance of theories of status construction, social identity and social dominance in explaining workplace segregation.

Conducting two surveys on stated vs. indirectly revealed preferences with 1,038 vs. 340 respondents at the Amazon Mechanical Turk, we found that European American respondents preferred somewhat diverse workplace compositions, but with a majority of ingroup members, in particular among male respondents, while minority individuals preferred more heterogeneous workplace compositions. We also found that women were slightly preferred as colleagues over men, with minority men being least popular. Our results suggest that the respondents’ attitudes towards diversity preserve an already segregated labour market.

However, we also found that providing informing on the more or less discriminating preferences of previous respondents changed the respondents’ own preferences in the direction of the information given. These new preferences remained in a follow-up study one week later. Ethno-racial preferences are thus susceptible to social influence.