For over 25 years diversity management practioners have espoused the business case for diversity which asserts the view that a more diverse workforce will increase organizational performance. Diversity management is defined as “an intentional process designed to create and maintain a positive work environment where the similarities and differences of individuals are valued, so that all can reach their potential and maximize their contributions to an organization’s strategic goals and objectives” (Thomas, 1992, p. 46). Dr. Roosevelt Thomas, widely consider the founder of the field of diversity management, suggest in his seminal book “Beyond Race and Gender: Unleashing the Power of Your Total Workforce by Managing Diversity”, that a high-performance organization relies on a dynamic workforce with the requisite talents, multidisciplinary knowledge, and contemporary skills to help the organization achieve its organizational goals. Moreover, he asserts that that such organizations must foster a work environment in which people are enabled and motivated to contribute to the organization’s success and must provide both accountability and fairness for all employees. Other diversity management scholars (O'Reilly, Caldwell, & Barnett, 1989; O'Reilly, Williams, & Barsade, 1997; Pelled, 1996; Pelled, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1999) echo Dr. Thomas and assert that in order to accomplish business goals, organizations must have a disciplined approach like diversity management in order to draw on the talents of employees at all levels and from all backgrounds.
Diversity practitioners were asked to what extent their organization’s diversity practices accomplished desired objectives and more than half (52%) reported that their organization’s diversity management practices had created a work environment or culture that allowed employees to contribute to the organization’s long-term sustainable success. In addition, they cited their organizations’ diversity management efforts for helping to increase minority and female representation, enhancing the ability of people from different backgrounds to work effectively together, leveraging differences and similarities in the workforce for the strategic advantage of the organization, eliminating or minimizing managers’ personal biases and capitalizing on differences and similarities among customers and markets for the long-term benefit of the organization (Lasch-Quinne,2001; Thiederman, 2003;Delong, 2004).
Realizing that they lacked clear evidence to support this view even within their own organizations, a number of business leaders called for empirical research to assess the connection between diversity management and organizational performance. Previous diversity management research focused primarily on the impact of diversity management on certain employee groups (Dwyer. Richard, & Shepherd, 1998; O'Reilly, Caldwell, & Barnett, 1989; O'Reilly, Williams, & Barsade, 1997; Pelled, 1996; Pelled, Eisenhardt, & Xin, 1999; Thomas, 1993; Tsui, Egan. & O'Reilly, 1992; Tsui & O'Reilly. 1989).
Diversity Managers: Angels of Mercy or Barbarians at the Gate departs from previous research because it examines the impact of diversity management on performance at the organization level. Until now, this linkage has not been emprirically investigated because according most organizations were not collecting the data needed to assess the effects of their diversity management practices on organizational performance. Diversity Managers: Angels of Mercy or Barbarians at the Gate addresses this gap in the literature by providing an analytical foundation and theoretical framework for understanding whether diversity management within the proper organizational context, relates positively or negatively to organizational performance.
Diversity Manager: Angels of Mercy or Barbarians at the Gate examines the previous research of the influence of diversity management initiatives and provides diversity practitioners and business leaders alike with a roadmap for designing and implementing diversity management initiatives that achieve results.
The book examines over 100 studies published between 1990–2010 in an effort to answer the following questions:
•Which diversity management initiatives have researchers studied in the last 20 years?
•What has been learned about impacts of specific diversity management efforts?
•What has been learned about the role of organizational culture in shaping the effects of diversity management initiatives?
•What practical implications, if any, does the research provide for diversity practioners and business leaders as they address the multi-level complexities inherent in strategic diversity management?
To answer these questions, the strength and weakness of the business case supporting each diversity management initiative is discussed in detailed. The theory and rationale of each initiative is also closely examined. Next, the empirical research supporting or challenging each diversity management initiative is reviewed and practical applications are offered based on the evidence, or lack thereof. Lastly, the future challenges for diversity managers and the field of diversity management are discussed in the hope of advancing the study and practice of diversity management.
Diversity Manager: Angels of Mercy or Barbarians at the Gate is important to the field of diversity management for a number of reasons. First, it is vital to diversity practioners because it scientifically investigates the link between diversity management and organizational performance by conducting an in-depth exploration of the empirical research which studied whether diversity management contributes to the success of organizations. Kochan (2003) suggested that a book like Diversity Manager: Angels of Mercy or Barbarians at the Gate is needed to help diversity practioners better understand the link between diversity management and organizational performance. This book answers that challenge by providing diversity practioners and business leaders alike with a “diversity GPS” that will help them pinpoint areas which may be strengths and opportunities in their organizations. Chief Diversity Officers, in particular, will gain insights into actions needed to further their organizations’ diversity strategy.
Secondly, this book examines some of the conventional wisdom on diversity management as it has changed over time. The book candidly points out the outdated paradigms and misguided diversity management initiatives that have often prevented organizations from capitalizing upon the rich diversity embedded in their workforce. Diversity scholars will find the book valuable given their increasing interest in whether organizations have been able to maximize their workforce diversity and tap the strength of its people to achieve better business results.
Diversity Manager: Angels of Mercy or Barbarians at the Gate provides practical solutions to contemporary diversity issues. Based on a comprehensive and critical examination of the previous empirical research, the book points out that any organization’s attempt at diversity management must begin and end with the company’s top leadership because essentially, adoption of diversity management, involves organizational cultural change. This type of change is most effective when it occurs from the top down starting with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who serves as a role model and helps integrate organizational values into the fabric of the culture.