Experiencing (Diversity) is Believing

Experiencing (Diversity) is Believing


When companies treat workplace diversity as a strength, where the unique backgrounds and perspectives of all employees are treated as strengths for enhancing capabilities across the organization, they enhance engagement by fostering an inclusive culture. And that engagement enhances group functioning and performance.



In a study to determine how different beliefs and expectations about cultural diversity impact organizations, Robin J. Ely and David A. Thomas discovered in organizations that treated cultural diversity as a valuable resource for delivering new insight, skills, and experiences to accomplish work, the quality of intergroup relations was high, all employees felt valued and respected, and the work groups within such organizations were among the highest performing of those studied.

Ely and Thomas found when an organization treats an individual's unique background and experiences as a genuine strength, it paves the way for employees to apply all their knowledge and experience (including that linked to cultural identity) to helping teams and organizations accomplish goals. They note that this type of validation "heightens group members' feelings of effectiveness and motivation to achieve."

Ely and Thomas also point out that in organizations that treated diversity as an important learning resource, almost all employees, across races from white to black, highlighted that workforce diversity had contributed to their professional and personal growth. 

The outcomes Ely and Thomas observed in their research demonstrates the positive impact diversity can have on group functioning and organizational performance when employees believe in the power of diversity and experience first-hand the benefits of diversity through enhanced team performance and professional and personal growth.




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.