What Motivates Managers to Diversify Teams?

What Motivates Managers to Diversify Teams?


Organizations that adopt an "integration-and-learning" perspective on cultural diversity not only motivate managers to diversity their teams, but also provide the framework needed to realize sustainable benefits from diversity.



Robin J. Ely and David A. Thomas conducted a study to determine how different beliefs and expectations about cultural diversity impact organizations. They discovered that those organizations that adopted what they call an "integration-and-learning" perspective on cultural diversity treated cultural diversity as a valuable learning resource for delivering new insight, skills, and experiences for accomplishing group work. They relied on diversity as integral to organizational functioning, leveraging diversity was a way of doing business. They found that in such organizations, the quality of intergroup relations was high and all employees felt valued and respected.

On the other hand, while organizations that viewed diversity primarily as a means for ensuring justice and equality or gaining access to diverse markets were also successful in increasing cultural diversity in the organization, they experienced the type of conflict that negatively impacts work group functioning, hindering an organization's ability to fully benefit from or sustain the diversity it builds.

Ely and Thomas found that the organizations that adopted an integration-and-learning approach to diversity not only successfully increased workplace diversity, but also achieved sustainable performance gains over time that appeared to be associated with diversity. And work groups that adopted an integration-and-learning perspective were among the highest performing of those studied.




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.