Summary. Leaders may mean well when they tout the economic payoffs of hiring more women and people of color, but there is no research support for the notion that diversifying the workforce automatically improves a company’s performance.
This article critiques the popular rhetoric about diversity and revisits an argument the authors made 25 years ago: To fully benefit from increased racial and gender diversity, organizations must adopt a learning orientation and be willing to change the corporate culture and power structure.
Four actions are key for leaders: building trust and creating a workplace where people feel free to express themselves; actively combating bias and systems of oppression; embracing a variety of styles and voices inside the organization; and using employees’ identity-related knowledge and experiences to learn how best to accomplish the firm’s core work.
A few hours into my first day at work as an industrial designer, I was shocked to discover there was no women’s restroom. I was the first woman on a team with 12 men, designing bicycles. I laughed it off at first because it felt too absurd. That week, they converted an unused closet, which became my bathroom. Although this happened in 2004, this kind of injustice and inattention to women is still pervasive.