Don't Let Diversity Erode Engagement

Don't Let Diversity Erode Engagement


Although research demonstrates how diverse and inclusive cultures can increase employee engagement, differing perceptions of workplace diversity can inadvertently cause majority group members to feel excluded, thereby possibly eroding engagement.



A study by Victoria Plaut and colleagues highlights how perceptions of exclusion by majority groups can negatively impact an organization's diversity efforts. The research shows that if organizations do not pay careful attention to fostering broad support of diversity efforts, efforts to build more diverse workplaces may create the unintended consequence of causing majority group members to feel excluded.

Research by Adam Galinsky and colleagues on maximizing the gains and minimizing the pains of diversity points to the importance of "all-inclusive multiculturalism," whereby an organization emphasizes how diversity benefits both majority and minority group members across an organization.

This is consistent with the research by Robin J. Ely and David A. Thomas on the effects of diversity perspectives on organizations, observing that when people believe in the power of diversity and experience the benefits of diversity, employees across majority and minority groups feel valued and respected, enhancing their professional and personal development and increasing and enhancing team performance. This, in turn, can help foster the type of diversity and inclusion that has been shown to increase engagement.




Ely, Robin J., & David A. Thomas, Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of Diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 46., No. 2, June 2001, pp. 229-273.

Galinsky, Adam D., Andrew R. Todd, Astrid C. Homan, Katherine W. Phillips, Evan P. Apfelbaum, Stacey J. Sasaki, Jennifer A. Richeson, Jennifer B. Olayton, & William W. Maddux, Maximizing the Gains and Minimizing the Pains of Diversity: A Policy Perspective, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 10, No. 6, Nov. 2015, pp. 742-748.

Plaut, Victoria C., Flannery G. Garnett, Laura E. Buffardi, & Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, What About Me? Perceptions of Exclusion and Whites' Reactions to Multiculturalism, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Aug. 2011, Vol. 101, No. 2, pp. 337-353.