Although defined in numerous and sometimes inconsistent ways in the literature, diversity climate can be described as employees’ shared perceptions of the extent to which their organization values diversity as reflected in the policies, practices, and procedures that the organization rewards, supports, and expects. Diversity climate studied at the individual level (individual perceptions of the impact of the work environment on the individual’s own well-being) is referred to as psychological climate. When it is conceived of and studied at the group or organization level (employees’ shared perceptions of their work environment aggregated to the unit level), it is referred to as group- or organizational-level climate. Two consistent criticisms raised in recent reviews continue to plague diversity climate research. These can most simply be stated as a lack of clarity about what diversity climate is and is not, and inconsistency in how diversity climate is measured and aligns (or does not) with how it has been conceptualized. Despite these criticisms, there is evidence that diversity climate can positively impact individuals’ (especially minority group members’) work-related attitudes (e.g., organizational commitment, satisfaction) and unit-level outcomes (e.g., performance). As a result, diversity climate is both practically relevant to organizations and conceptually meaningful to researchers.
Elissa L. Perry and Aitong Li
Jawad Syed and Memoona Tariq
Diversity management refers to organizational policies and practices aimed at recruiting, retaining, and managing employees of diverse backgrounds and identities, while creating a culture in which everybody is equally enabled to perform and achieve organizational and personal objectives. In a globalized world, there is a need for contextual and transnational approaches to utilize the benefits that global diversity may bring as well as the challenges that organizations may face in managing a diverse workforce. In particular, it is important to take into account how diversity is theorized and managed in non-Western contexts, for example in BRICS countries (i.e., Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and Muslim-majority countries. The literature confirms the need for organizational efforts to be focused on engaging with and managing a heterogeneous workplace in ways that not only yield sustainable competitive advantage but also are contextually and socially responsible. Organizations today are expected to take positive action, beyond legal compliance, to ensure equal access, employment and promotion opportunities, and also to ensure that diversity programs make use of employee differences, and contribute to local as well as global communities.
Maartje Schouten, Jasmien Khattab, and Phoebe Pahng
The study of team diversity has generated a large amount of research because of the changing nature of workplaces as they become more diverse and work becomes more organized around teams. Team diversity describes the variation among team members in terms of any attribute in which individuals may differ. Examples are demographic background diversity, functional or educational diversity, and personality diversity. Diversity can be operationalized as categorical (variety), continuous (separation), or vertical (disparity). Initial research on team diversity was dominated by a main-effects approach that produced two main perspectives: social-categorization scholars suggested that diversity hurts team outcomes, as it decreases feelings of cohesion and increases dysfunctional conflict, whereas the information and decision-making perspective suggested that diversity helps team outcomes, as it makes more information available in the team to help with decision-making. In an effort to integrate these disparate insights, the categorization-elaboration model (CEM) proposed that team diversity can lead both to social categorization and to information elaboration on the basis of contextual factors that may give rise to either process. The CEM has received widespread support in research, but a number of questions about the processes through which diversity has an effect on team outcomes remain.
Intersectionality is a critical framework that provides us with the mindset and language for examining interconnections and interdependencies between social categories and systems. Intersectionality is relevant for researchers and for practitioners because it enhances analytical sophistication and offers theoretical explanations of the ways in which heterogeneous members of specific groups (such as women) might experience the workplace differently depending on their ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or class and other social locations. Sensitivity to such differences enhances insight into issues of social justice and inequality in organizations and other institutions, thus maximizing the chance of social change. The concept of intersectional locations emerged from the racialized experiences of minority ethnic women in the United States. Intersectional thinking has gained increased prominence in business and management studies, particularly in critical organization studies. A predominant focus in this field is on individual subjectivities at intersectional locations (such as examining the occupational identities of minority ethnic women). This emphasis on individuals’ experiences and within-group differences has been described variously as “content specialization” or an “intracategorical approach.” An alternate focus in business and management studies is on highlighting systematic dynamics of power. This encompasses a focus on “systemic intersectionality” and an “intercategorical approach.” Here, scholars examine multiple between-group differences, charting shifting configurations of inequality along various dimensions. As a critical theory, intersectionality conceptualizes knowledge as situated, contextual, relational, and reflective of political and economic power. Intersectionality tends to be associated with qualitative research methods due to the central role of giving voice, elicited through focus groups, narrative interviews, action research, and observations. Intersectionality is also utilized as a methodological tool for conducting qualitative research, such as by researchers adopting an intersectional reflexivity mindset. Intersectionality is also increasingly associated with quantitative and statistical methods, which contribute to intersectionality by helping us understand and interpret the individual, combined (additive or multiplicative) effects of various categories (privileged and disadvantaged) in a given context. Future considerations for intersectionality theory and practice include managing its broad applicability while attending to its sociopolitical and emancipatory aims, and theoretically advancing understanding of the simultaneous forces of privilege and penalty in the workplace.
Katina Sawyer and Judith A. Clair
Stereotypes are a central concern in society and in the workplace. Stereotypes are cognitions that drive what individuals know, believe, and expect from others as a result of their social identities. Stereotypes predict how individuals view and treat one another at work, often resulting in inaccurate generalizations about individuals based on their group membership. As such, it’s important to break down and combat the use of stereotypes in decision-making at work. If stereotypes can be overcome in the workplace, fairness and equity in organizations becomes more likely.
Keith Murnighan* and Dora Lau
Group faultlines are hypothetical dividing lines that may split a group into subgroups based on one or more attributes. An example of a strong faultline is a group of two young female Asians and two senior male Caucasians. Members’ alignment of age, sex, and ethnicity facilitates the formation of two homogeneous subgroups. On the other hand, when a group consists of a young female Asian, a young male Caucasian, a senior female Caucasian, and a senior male Asian, the group faultline is considered weak because subgroups, regardless of how they are formed, are diverse. As a relatively new form of group compositional pattern, the group faultline is associated with subgroup formation, and these subgroups, rather than the whole group, can easily become the focus of attention. When members strive to obtain more resources and protect their subgroups, between-subgroup conflict, behavioral disintegration, lack of trust, lack of willingness to share information, and communication challenges are likely. As a result, group performance is often negatively affected, and sometimes groups may even be dissolved. These results were repeatedly found in studies of experimental groups, ad-hoc project groups, organizational teams, top management teams, global virtual teams, family businesses, international joint ventures, and strategic alliances.
Jacqueline A. Gilbert
Organizational diversity is regarded positively, but haphazardly embraced. The absence of a cultural mandate at work (one which includes an emphasis on managing differences) can result in minority assimilation, and in either unintended bullying or in intentional abuse. Declining stock price, loss of goodwill, inability to recruit qualified candidates, and internal havoc marked by perpetuation of firm dysfunction may occur. These outcomes are especially alarming in the face of transformative population growth, in which minorities are predicted to become the demographic majority within the United States. Inattention to employee misconduct prevents firms from experiencing enhanced productivity. Encouraging civil behavior is thus essential to engendering camaraderie in a diverse workforce, in which incivilities, or micro-inequities, are disproportionately targeted at minority groups. Management modeling of appropriate behavior (and swift action toward perpetrators for non-compliance) are necessary to achieve human capital integration.
Cody Cox, Richard Posthuma, Fabian Castro, and Eric Smith
Many researchers have noted the increasing age of the workforce, but less noted is that the workforce is also becoming more diverse in terms of age. Thus, as the workforce ages, the ability to manage age diversity will become increasingly important. Managing workers of different ages requires understanding the physiological, psychological, and motivational changes that accompany age, as well as how individuals of different ages interact in organizational contexts. With an increased awareness of the multidimensional nature of age, employers can consider useful adaptations to their human resource practices. Dispelling invalid age stereotypes may be accomplished through inclusive HR practices, the use of intergenerational interactions, and providing meaningful work to all employees.
Lynn R. Offermann and Kira Foley
Women have historically been underrepresented in leadership positions across private and public organizations around the globe. Gender inequality and gender discrimination remain very real challenges for women workers in general, and especially so for women striving for leadership positions. Yet organizational research suggests that female leaders may bring a unique constellation of leadership-related traits, attributes, and behaviors to the workplace that may provide advantages to their organizations. Specific cultural and organizational work contexts may facilitate or inhibit a female leadership advantage. Reaping the benefits of female leadership relies on an organization’s ability to combat the numerous barriers female leaders face that male leaders often do not, including gender-based discrimination, implicit bias, and unfair performance evaluations. Despite these challenges, the literature suggests that a reasoned consideration of the positive aspects of women’s leadership is not only warranted but is instructive for organizations hoping to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Jihae You, Siri Terjesen, and Diana Bilimoria
In light of the growing number of women in the upper echelons, it is necessary to integrate and synthesize research on women at the top of corporations. The extant literature occurs in several disciplines—appearing in the fields of management, strategy, finance, economics, organizational behavior, ethics, sociology, and industrial relations—and is disparate and fragmented. A large and growing set of scholars provide various theoretical perspectives and empirical findings addressing organizational demographics, supply side factors, and outcomes. A number of theories are employed to understand the issue of women in the upper echelons, including resource dependence, tokenism and critical mass, glass cliff, social identity, human capital, social capital, and signaling theories. Most articles use U.S. data and tend to deal with the effect of female CEOs or that of female representation on corporate boards and top management teams (TMTs) on various firm-level outcomes. The majority of the studies investigate a potential relationship between gender diversity and financial performance. Research on this topic can guide policy and practice, improving the performance of organizations and the individuals who work within them.