Making the Case for Organizational Justice

By: Keli Wilson and Jasmine Beecham  

This is part 4 of our 8-part blog series, Psychological Safety and Advancing Workforce Equity.

Key takeaways associated with establishing psychological safety, as learned in the previous installment of this series, include an environment where employees feel organizational support and a sense of trust in the organization (Tucker, 2007; Carmeli et. al., 2009). DCI will continue exploring how employees can feel comfortable in their workplace in this installment, but from the lens of employee perceptions of justice and fairness for organizational practices. 

Organizational justice perceptions can be broken up into four categories (Colquitt & Rodell, 2015): 

  • Distributive justice is the fairness of outcome distributions or allocations, 
  • Procedural justice is the fairness of the procedures used to determine outcome distributions or allocations
  • Informational justice is the honest and thorough explanations of procedures, and
  • Interactional justice is the quality of interpersonal treatment a person receives.
Applicants perceiving unfair treatment have a decrease in organizational attraction (Stanton & Lin, 2003). Perceptions surrounding an organization begin before working there so it is important to consider the fairness in the interactions that occur prior to being employed. For example, interactions with someone that is not an employee (e.g., client, customer) and the experience of a job candidate going through the selection process and being communicated about progress and expectations. In addition, perceptions can last while employed or after employment, should a person be terminated or voluntarily leave the organization.  

Peers can influence others in positive and negative ways by conveying their experience to those around them. This can have a monumental impact on the employer’s long-term strategies to diversify the workforce if groups identified as underrepresented in the company are also associating with negative perceptions of fairness or justice. An employer that acts consistently, equitably, respectfully, and truthfully will aim to benefit the employee, the organization, and the workplace culture. Thus, it is important for an employer to avoid negative consequences of low perceptions of justice and fairness around all employment practices.  

An employer can strive to create and sustain an inclusive culture where perceptions of fairness are high by adopting the following practices: 

  • Selecting the most qualified candidate for the open position, 
  • Using a structured interview with questions that are job related,
  • Explaining how self-identification of an employee will be collected, stored, and used by the employer,
  • Coaching recruiters and hiring managers to engage in courteous and kind behavior during phone screens and interviews, avoiding behaviors such as cutting off the speaker or being dismissive,
  • Being transparent and communicating about the performance review process and expectations prior to administration,
  • Allowing an employee’s performance self-rating, review, and feedback, when possible,
  • Posting all job openings, including internal opportunities, for awareness to all in the company, and
  • Offering an appeal process for employees to share concerns and experiences without retaliation or other impact on employment status.
As an employer, taking the time to review, measure, and improve selection processes can help to ensure transparency of information and consistency of practices. This commitment to fair and equitable practices must be continued throughout the employee lifecycle to foster and retain talent and a positive work environment.  

Contact your DCI consulting partner or connect with DCI for the first time to learn more about incorporating evidence-based practices to enhance psychological safety, perceptions of fair and just practices, as well as DEIA in the workplace. In the next installment of this series, DCI will further explore the formation of perceptions of fairness by considering applicant reactions to the selection process.  


Carmeli, A., & Gittell, J. H. (2009). High‐quality relationships, psychological safety, and learning from failures in work organizations. Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior, 30(6), 709-729. 

Colquitt, J. A., & Rodell, J. B. (2015). Measuring justice and fairness. 

Stanton, J. M., & Lin, L. F. (2003). Effects of workplace monitoring policies on potential employment discrimination and organizational attractiveness for African Americans in the technical professions. Journal of Black Psychology, 29(3), 257-274. 

Tucker, A. L. (2007). An empirical study of system improvement by frontline employees 
in hospital units. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 9, 492–505. 

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