Managing Diversity in Organizations
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Managing Diversity in Organizations

A Global Perspective

María Triana

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eBook - ePub

Managing Diversity in Organizations

A Global Perspective

María Triana

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About This Book

This book equips students with a thorough understanding of the advantages and challenges presented by workplace diversity, suggesting techniques to manage diversity effectively and maximize its benefits. Readers will learn to work with diverse groups to create a productive organization in which everyone feels included.

The author offers a comprehensive survey of demographic groups and an analysis of their history, allowing students to develop a deep understanding of the dimensions of diversity. From this foundation, students are taught to manage diversity effectively on the basis of race, sex, LGBTQIA, religion, age, ability, national origin, and intersectionality in organizations and to understand the issues various groups face, including discrimination. Opening with current case studies and discussion questions to enhance comprehension, the chapters provide practical insight into subconscious/implicit bias, team diversity, and diversity management in the United States and abroad. "Global View" examples further highlight how diversity management unfolds around the world.

Offering a fresh look at workplace diversity, this book will serve students of diversity, human resource management, and organizational studies. A companion website featuring an instructor's manual, PowerPoint slides, and test banks provides additional support for students and instructors.

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Introduction to Diversity

Opening Case

The San Antonio Spurs: A Diverse National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship Winning Team

Some have referred to the San Antonio Spurs as “The United Nations of Hoops” (Salzbrener, 2014). In June of 2014, the Spurs won their fifth NBA championship in 16 seasons. Tim Duncan, the oldest of the star players on the team at the time (at age 38), had been playing basketball for the Spurs about as long as the youngest player on the Spurs has been alive. The Spurs players also come from all parts of the world. According to the NBA, there were 92 international players in the NBA for the 2013–2014 season across 30 teams, for an expected average of three international players per team. There were 10 international players on the Spurs, more than half the team, which makes the Spurs one of (if not) the most diverse teams in the NBA (NBA, 2013). The men on this team represent the United States, France, Argentina, Italy, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Cacciola, 2014). They speak many different languages, come from completely different cultures, and vary dramatically in age and appearance. Yet they play basketball very well and very reliably year after year, making plays that require tacit coordination and execution in a split second. Sportscasters have joked that the only thing the Spurs players have in common is how different they are. How do they handle diversity in the process of being so successful?
Aside from having an excellent coach and players with a great level of ability who complement each others’ skills very well, the San Antonio Spurs appear to have a culture that accepts diversity. They are the first NBA team to have a woman assistant coach, Becky Hammon (National Basketball Association, 2014). They also seem to use the players’ international diversity to their advantage. For example, they use their knowledge of language to help reinforce plays and tactics on the basketball court. Tony Parker and Boris Diaw are both French and sometimes speak to each other in French during the game when they need to convey something quickly. The two Australians on the team, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes, have their own dialect. Also, Manu Ginobili of Argentina speaks three different languages, Spanish, Italian, and English. He speaks in Spanish to his teammate Tiago Splitter, in Italian to the Italian teammate, Marco Belinelli, and in English with everyone else (Cacciola, 2014). According to Belinelli, “When me and Manu speak Italian on court, we try to use that as an advantage” (Cacciola, 2014). Therefore, they have found a way to take a situation that might normally present language barriers and have turned it into a tactical advantage (Rice, 2014).
It is also notable that their coach seems quite open to diversity and respectful of the multicultural background of his team (Salzbrenner, 2014). The coach, Gregg Popovich, had a Serbian father and a Croatian mother and takes pleasure in learning about his players’ backgrounds. In fact, when they go on the road trips, the team visits museums together. According to a quote from Popovich, “I think it’s just a respect for letting them know you understand they are from another place. We all grew up differently.” Popovich majored in Soviet studies while at the Air Force Academy and is known for being able to converse a little bit in different languages with various players (Cacciola, 2014).
This is an example of how diversity can be an advantage in teams if it is managed properly (Salzbrenner, 2014). The subgroups within the team that form based on nationality and language are used up to the point where they provide camaraderie and a tactical advantage. Beyond that, the players carefully note that they speak English most of the time because they do not want the majority of the team to feel excluded (Cacciola, 2014). Further, by having a coach who sets a tone of inclusion and valuing their multiculturalism, diversity becomes a strength and its challenges are mitigated (Rice, 2014).

Discussion Questions:

  1. In what ways do you think the diversity of the Spurs could be an advantage?
  2. In what ways do you think the diversity of the Spurs could present challenges?
  3. If you were coaching the Spurs, what types of things would you do to mitigate the potential challenges and increase the team’s advantage associated with diversity?

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:
  • Define diversity
  • Discuss different types of diversity
  • Understand the arguments behind the business case for diversity
  • Articulate both the advantages and the challenges of diversity
This chapter defines diversity and explains that diversity comes in many different forms. Then, research findings on the advantages of diversity and the business case for diversity as well as the challenges of diversity are presented. Suggestions for managing diversity based on best-known methods from diversity research are discussed. Finally, the chapter concludes with a short statement about the organization of the subsequent chapters in the book.

What Is Diversity?

Organizations worldwide are becoming more diverse. By 2050 there will be no majority racial/ethnic group in the United States (Cárdenas, Ajinkya, & Léger, 2011). In Europe, the European Union has facilitated commerce and employment across national boundaries. Globalization, immigration, and expatriate assignments across many parts of the world including Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa have also contributed to the diversity of organizations today. As workplaces become increasingly diverse, it is increasingly likely that subordinates and supervisors will come from different demographic backgrounds or religions, hold different cultural values about the nature of work and their roles at work, and have differences along several other dimensions (Jun & Gentry, 2005; Taras, Steel, & Kirkman, 2012). This diversity presents great opportunity for organizations to innovate and to improve their performance both domestically and abroad, and it also presents the challenge of managing diversity well in order to obtain the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Diversity is defined as “the distribution of differences among the members of a unit with respect to a common attribute X” (Harrison & Klein, 2007, p. 1200). Others have defined diversity as a group characteristic that reflects the degree to which there are objective and/or subjective differences among group members (van Knippenberg & Schippers, 2007). Quite simply, diversity can be any difference between the members of a group on any given dimension. Diversity can be real, or it can be perceived by the members of the team. Examples of attributes on which teams can be diverse include sex, race, age, personality traits, attitudes, values, religion, skin color, hair color, education, sexual orientation, functional area, and organizational tenure to name a few.
Diversity is a unit-level construct. Therefore, we refer to a team as being diverse but not an individual. Team diversity has been studied at the dyadic level (typically between supervisors and subordinates), team level, and organizational level. Team-level diversity has been a popular research topic over the past few decades given the overwhelming use of work teams in organizations and the global nature of today’s workforce (Jackson, May, & Whitney, 1995; Milliken & Martins, 1996). Recently, much research on team diversity has been devoted to understanding the reasons why there are so many inconsistent results in the study of team diversity (van Knippenberg & Schippers, 2007; Webber & Donahue, 2001).

Different Types of Diversity

Attributes that make up a team’s diversity can be classified into what is called surface-level and deep-level diversity (Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998; Jackson et al., 1995). Surface-level diversity refers to characteristics that are noticeable when you look at someone “on the surface.” This includes things like sex, race, age, and weight. Deep-level diversity refers to attributes that are not immediately observable such as attitudes, values, and personality. Pelled and colleagues (Pelled, 1996; Pelled, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1999) categorized diversity attributes as being highly job-related (e.g., knowledge, experience) or less job-related (e.g., sex, race) to the task that is to be performed by the team.
Harrison and Klein (2007) proposed that there are three distinct types of diversity: separation, variety, and disparity. Diversity as separation refers to differences on a particular attribute such as attitudes, beliefs, and values. Examples of separation diversity would include cultural values, job attitudes, and political beliefs. Diversity as variety refers to differences in knowledge, life experience, and information among team members. Examples include different professional backgrounds, functional areas, and expertise. Finally, diversity as disparity refers to differences in status or power. This could reflect the concentration of resources including status, pay, and the prestige of assignments among team members. Separation in a team will likely increase conflict, but it should also produce better decisions due to the increase in knowledge from various perspectives. Variety should also help teams because it represents expertise and information, but it is potentially linked to a longer decision-making process and conflict due to the volume of information being considered. Disparity diversity is probably the most damaging in most contexts because it can create a situation where some team members feel more valued than others, possibly causing the rest of the team members to become dissatisfied, withdraw from work, or compete for resources, all of which can damage camaraderie.
More recently, researchers have begun to examine multiple forms of diversity that can create divisions within a team, known as faultlines. Faultlines are hypothetical dividing lines which divide a group into subgroups based on the alignment of team members’ attributes (Lau & Murnighan, 1998). For example, if a team of six people is comprised of three men and three women, that team would have a faultline on gender because half are obviously men and the other half are women. Faultlines research presumes that group members act in ways consistent with their subgroups, based on the alignment of individual characteristics (Bezrukova, Jehn, Zanutto, & Thatcher, 2009; Lau & Murnighan, 2005; Williams & O’Reilly, 1998). Therefore, while traditional diversity measures examine the effects of group-level attributes in teams (i.e., overall level of gender diversity in a team), faultlines explain how the alignment of attributes within the group can create subgroup-level dynamics (Lau & Murnighan, 1998).

Why Is Diversity Obvious to People?

In order to understand why diversity matters and why it affects teams and organizations, it is necessary to study the major diversity theories that explain diversity in teams. Relational demography theory (Pfeffer, 1983) represents some of the earliest work in the team diversity literature which examined the basic characteristics of teams (e.g., tenure, age, gender, race). Continuing this line of work, others have explored diversity within dyadic relationships (typically supervisor–subordinate; Tsui, Egan, & O’Reilly, 1992). Relational demography researchers suggest that people compare their own demographic characteristics with those of their teammates to determine whether they are similar or different; those demographic similarities or differences then affect team communication, team processes, and team dynamics (Riordan, 2000; Tsui et al., 1992; Tsui & O’Reilly, 1989).
Some of the most influential theories in the study of team diversity are the social categorization theories and the value in diversity hypothesis. Social categorization theories are based on the ideas of social identity and self-categorization (Hogg & Terry, 2000; Tajfel, 1978; Tajfel & Turner, 1986; Turner, 1985, 1987). Self-categorization theory maintains that people categorize themselves and others into in-group (those who are similar to them) and out-group (those who are different from them) membership based on surface-level characteristics (e.g., age, sex, and race; Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998). These categories then determine social inclusion/exclusion of others. This is an important factor in team dynamics because social identity theory shows that we derive part of our self-esteem from our identity groups (Hogg & Terry, 2000). Therefore, we tend to ascribe positive characteristics to those in our in-group and negative characteristics to those in our out-group. Self-categorization theory has been termed the “pessimistic” view of diversity (Mannix & Neale, 2005, p. 34) because demographic differences often have negative effects on group processes and outcomes (Horwitz & Horwitz, 2007; Webber & Donahue, 2001; Williams & O’Reilly, 1998).
This reasoning is also consistent with the similarity-attraction hypothesis (Byrne, 1971) which predicts that diverse teams will be less productive than homogenous teams because homogenous teams share similar attributes and are more attracted to working with one another. Mutual attraction can help make team processes such as communication more efficient, and team members may cooperate more with members of their in-group than with members of the out-group (van Knippenberg, De Dreu, & Homan, 2004) because of intergroup bias.

The Business Case for Diversity

The value in diversity hypothesis (Cox & Blake, 1991; Cox, Lobel, & McLeod, 1991) has been called the “optimistic” view of diversity (Mannix & Neale, 2005, p. 33). It proposes many ways in which diversity can create value for teams and how that value could overshadow any negative effects of team diversity, providing a competitive advantage (Cox & Blake, 1991; Cox et al., 1991). The creativity argument is one of these ways.
The creativity argument suggests that a diversity of opinions in a decision-making process should de-emphasize conforming to norms of the past and should spur creativity (Cox & Blake, 1991, p. 47). Th...

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