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Oct 26, 2023

Fireside Chat with Dr. Angelica Leigh

Dr. Angelica Leigh, a Kenan Institute Distinguished Fellow, visited the Kenan Institute in September to discuss her research on the influence of ‘mega-threats’ on individuals at work. Along with four other distinguished fellows the focus of Dr. Leigh’s work broadens our understanding of the lasting impacts of workforce disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During an exclusive fireside chat with Hodges Scholars, Dr. Leigh shared how she became interested in exploring race, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in organizations. Her inspiration stemmed from videos circulating in 2016 of the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, two Black men killed by police in back-to-back, though separate incidents. The shock and flood of emotions from seeing this, stuck with her. On social media, she read comments like hers. Shocked and dismayed, how are employees to go to work and not acknowledge that these events happened. She realized that while she was affected, it seemed that others were unaware or not affected.

Driven by the emotional impact of these events, she was encouraged by her dissertation advisor, Dr. Shimul Melwani to research what Leigh and Melwani termed “mega-threats”. According to the authors, mega-threats are “negative, identity-relevant societal events that receive significant media attention.”. Her pioneering research explores the impact of mega-threats on employees and the workplace.

In the fireside chat moderated by Luther Hodges Scholar, Lydia Thomas, Dr. Leigh urged students to scrutinize organizations’ commitment to DEI, not merely through statements but by evaluating their efforts and action.

Dr. Angelica Leigh is an Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Leigh, A., & Melwani, S. (2022). “Am I next?” The spillover effects of mega-threats on avoidant behaviors at work. Academy of Management Journal, 65(3), 720–748. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2020.1657

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