Research

The Diversity Coach is home to the latest research in the field of diversity management. The research confirms our belief that management skills and a focus on team performance is the key to getting benefit from your D&I efforts.

Recent Research Indicates:

A common definition of diversity management is possible, that managing diversity requires a competence with all dimensions of diversity, and that there are a set of management skills that can yield better performance with teams of diverse composition.

A better understanding of the impact of diversity management on organizational performance would help managers in developing the models, tools, assessments, and management principles that will make diversity management a mainstay of modern management practice.

There has yet to be consistent, replicable, and sustainable evidence in the scholarly literature that supports the (diversity-performance) relationship, which leaves managers and leaders in the field uncertain about the efficacy of diversity management as a management skill or organizational strategy.

A better understanding of the impact of diversity management on organizational performance would help managers in developing the models, tools, assessments, and management principles that will make diversity management a mainstay of modern management practice.

When the increasing diversity at work is not being managed effectively, it can result in lower revenues, higher costs, and greater disruptions to business operations.

diversity management is distinguished from other forms of diversity study by the intent to affect business performance.

The 1980s and 1990s saw the beginning of a new approach to people management called managing diversity. The new approach gave rise to research that described the transition from social and political aspects of diversity to business interests. Then came the rise of efforts to confirm the efficacy of diversity management (i.e., is it a legitimate business management discipline?) and the rise of rhetoric declaring the inherent value of diversity.

Managersidentified a broad range of diversity dimensions that included age, personality type, marital status, childcare needs and other family situations, years of experience, functional areas of expertise, work-from-home contractors versus in-office employees, sexual orientation, and national cultures. Some of these areas of difference play a bigger role in the workforce than race and gender. Some managers believe that race and gender are no longer an issue in most of their interactions with employees.

The last three decades have seen a near abandonment of management as a topic in favor of leadership as a topic. There is confusion about the meaning and application of leadership and/or management.

“Most people think that just by having diversity, you get better decisions. No, it's when you manage that diversity that you get better decisions.” (quote from line manager in an industrial company)

Leadership is about coping with change and management is about coping with complexity.

It is important to manage each individual as an individual.

Diversity management in theory is identified as a change initiative. Diversity management in practice involves the day-to-day interactions of teams and managers.

Team cohesion occurs more readily when the team is composed of more homogeneous members and social loafing results from greater diversity.

There is a growing awareness that frontline managers are the key to effectively execute diversity management programs and frontline managers are aware of their role and want to use their skills and insights to make diversity management a winning strategy for their organizations.

Specific dimensions of diversity (race, gender, personality type, age, etc.) are relevant on a case-by-case basis, but it is a general competence with diversity that helps managers deal with the daily manifestations of diversity on their teams.

Diversity management is a process (what you do) rather than a state (what you have).

Diversity challenges require a manager to be more attentive and involved.

The benefits of diversity are the reason managers endure the process of dealing with the challenges of diversity.

Getting the best from a diverse team requires a unique set of skills and a perspective that expects to find value in diversity.

Good managers prefer diversity despite the realistic recognition that diversity introduces complexity and unique challenges to team management.

Prior research has focused on discrete elements of diversity and has assumed (without evidence) that more diversity contributes to improved performance.

The benefit of diversity management derives from teams who make better decisions, solve problems, capture innovation, improve productivity; make more accurate predictions, and who operate more effectively and efficiently.

Managers must first acknowledge and accept that it is easier to manage a team of like individuals. Likeness yields less friction and more agreement. It also produces mediocre outcomes.

Without the exercise of effective management practices, no element of diversity will produce consistently positive results.

Diverse teams will achieve either excellent (when managed) or miserable (when not managed) results.

There are natural barriers to implementing diversity management. Many of the dysfunctions that arise with diverse groups might not be present with more homogeneous groups. For instance, the need to process differing opinions and come to consensus is often greater with a broadly diverse group with different backgrounds, points of view, and beliefs.

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