Monday, May 1, 2017

Diversity Management in Leadership

Diversity Importance:  Because our society is rapidly changing  demographically, we must prepare to have a better understanding of each other in all levels of societal life.  In the recent discussion of demographic change, we have seen the word “diversity”  resulting in a buzzword. Commonly, individuals are unaware of the definition of diversity, often placing a different connotation to its meaning, basing their definition on assumptions,and or utilizing it for a particular (i.e. market-based) agenda. This lack of understanding has led to poor or unsuccessful  progress in diversity initiatives in terms of awareness and management. Consequently, there is a need to focus on diversity management importance,implications, and implementations in leadership.
In a diverse world, there are many reasons why leaders should ‘care’ or find diversity management to be important. More specifically, it is vital to increase our understanding of diversity in the workplace as “the varied perspectives and approaches to work that members of different identity group bring(3).” It is important to validate the role diversity can have in organizational effectiveness to increase profitability,  better utilize talent, increase marketplace understanding, enhance creativity, and or increase quality of team problem-solving(3). Evidence shows  that there is an the increase in  long-lasting relationships, creativity, and capability of change in the diverse workforce(3).

Diversity Implications:Yet, diversity management is very complex.There are diverse perspectives on the current and future implications that rapid change in demographics  can, should, or will have on our society.  Given the rapid change in demographics, there is particular focus on cultural diversity as valuing, respecting, and accepting of the  differences that make people unique in the way of living or changing the ways of doing the things that have to be done in this life(4). Unfortunately, hindering the embracement of diversity, is the strong resistance in “accepting the reality of different levels and kinds of skills, interest, habits, and orientations among different groups of people(3).” This inability to accept and manage the different levels of diversity results in  “higher turnover cost, high absenteeism rates, and lawsuits on sexual, race and age discrimination (2).” Therefore, a diverse world requires diversity management that takes  “fundamental change in attitudes and behaviors of an organization’s leadership(4).”

Diversity Implementation:
Leaders who value the importance of diversity in the workplace will allow for integration of diversity. Some of the current frameworks utilized in efforts of diversity management are: discrimination and fairness and access and legitimacy. Each has a different outlook on diversity management.   Yet these two frameworks have shown the need to explore how people’s differences generate a potential diversity of effective ways of working, leading, viewing the market, managing people, and learning and the need to learn about the differences and cultural competencies (4). Often it has been observed that although the diversity framework is in place, there are still issues concerning clash in approaches of the work, project choice, and project definition.  An effective way of connecting diversity to work, is allowing there to be a workplace culture in which employees can value diversity, share their perspectives, and participate in redefining agency practices.It is important to value differences so it is a “frame of mind, a way of thinking rather than a result(4).” The framework that implements this ideology is the learning and effective paradigm that creates a learning integration of diversity.
Moreover, diversity management is strengthened when the leader actively works to implement change and work against removing barriers within the workplace such as preventing, managing, and avoiding forms of dominance and subordination. Overall, the leader should always be committed to its agency’s employees, mission, and success. Diversity management in essence, should be implemented just as a business plan by developing a strategy to monitor progress and its impact. Therefore, it is leaderships’ role to set a model for managing diversity with great importance to process and outcomes, actively looking to identify barriers and strengths to diversity implementation in the workplace, by always ensuring that the agency stays intact.

  1. McNett, Jeanne. “Diversity in the Workplace: Ethics, Pragmatism, or Some of Both?” Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall.
  2. Robinson, Gail, Dechant, Kathleen. (1997) “Building a Business for Diversity”. Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall.
  3. Sowell, Thomas. “A World View of Cultural Diversity”. Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall.
    4. Thomas, David A., Ely, Robin J. (1996) “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for       Managing Diversity”. Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Moving for What Matters

Oppression reinvents itself and creeps its way into every facet of our human existence which means the act of devaluing of ‘others’’ lives gets harder and harder to spot if you’re not aware of our history in the US. Diversity encompasses all identities and forms of human experience including, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, religion, ability status, LGBTQ identity, age, gender identity, and language. I won’t be able to tackle all identities in one post, so I will address race and LGBTQ identity.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Diversity: Were All in this Together

The Value of Diversity

Diversity and Leadership

             Globalization, societal evolution and data-based demographic trends all point towards an undeniable fact: our workplaces, schools and communities are populated by an increasingly diverse group of people. The United States’ Census Bureau tells us that “By 2044…more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group” (Colby and Ortman, p. 1), and the Department of Labor projects that women “will account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018” (Employment and Earnings, 2011). This essay will establish that the increase in diversity carries distinct benefits, but the realization of these benefits depends on policies which support inclusion, increased avenues for participation, and the proliferation of opportunity. We must reconcile the demographic reality with economic realities. Minority groups still face significant barriers to employment, despite the fact that they will comprise more than half of the U.S. population by 2044, and women must contend with an unfair and outdated wage regime. The 78 Cents Project uses data from the American Community Survey to demonstrate the extent of the wage gap. The discrepancy persists across workforce sectors: women who work in retail earn 70 cents to the average dollar earned by males in that industry, and female lawyers earn 83 cents to the dollar earned by their male counterparts (78 Cents Project). The statistics revealing the wage gap for minority women encapsulates the diversity challenge: black women are paid 64 cents, and Latina women are paid 56 cents, compared to the average dollar earned by white males (78 Cents Project). The economic implications of an increase in diversity, coupled with unfair and wage rates, are staggering. If nothing is done to address this discrepancy, we will march forward underpaying an increasingly large segment of the workforce. We must do more to include, fairly compensate, and support diverse populations, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because our economic well-being hangs in the balance.
            In Building a Case for Diversity, Gail Robinson and Kathleen Dechant posit that business leaders can view the increase in diversity as a real opportunity. Initiatives to support diversity, in their view, can be “an optimal tool for increasing their resources…and creating a conducive working atmosphere for workers” (Robinson and Dechant, p. 228). They recognize that changing demographics is an unescapable reality which effective businesses will target as an opportunity. Business growth can be achieved by embracing diversity, through “increased marketplace understanding, greater creativity, higher quality team problem-solving, improved leadership effectiveness, and better global relations” (Robinson and Dechant, p. 232). How can diversity contribute to improvements in these areas? Take problem-solving, for example: a diverse workforce contemplating a solution to a given problem can draw upon “a variety of perspectives based on a range of experiences” (Robinson and Dechant, p. 234), eventually producing a solution which is more applicable to a larger group of people.
            David Thomas and Robin Ely see the diversity question as a paradigm shift which must be explicitly dealt with. They offer the case of the public-interest law firm, Dewey & Levin, as an organization which embraced a strategy to hire, and fully incorporate, diverse workforce members to improve the quality of its work. Thomas and Ely establish eight pre-conditions for making a paradigm-shift towards an integrated, diverse workforce, and organizational culture features prominently on this list (Thomas and Ely, p. 221). Dewey & Levin’s organizational culture fit the bill, and its employees felt that “their perspectives are heard with a kind of openness and interest they have never experienced before in a work setting” (Thomas and Ely, p. 220).

            The benefits of a diverse workforce cannot be realized if minority groups’ access to education, employment and other opportunities to grow one’s human capital is restricted. Nor can they be realized if workers feel that they are just there as “window dressing”, and that their opinions and ideas are not being considered. To maximize the potential benefits of an increasingly diverse society, leaders must pursue policies which support wage equalization and incentivize diversity hiring (such as affirmative action) are crucial.


Colby, Sandra, Ortman, Jennifer. Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060. U.S. Census Bureau: March 2015. 

Cook, Khary. Employment and Earnings. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: January 2011. 

78 Cents Project Berkley, CA. 

Robinson, Gail, Dechant, Kathleen. Building A Business Case For Diversity. Academy of Management Executive, 1997.

Thomas, David, Ely, Robin. Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation: 1996.

Societal Shifts Impacting Non-Profits

Our society is an ever-changing system; the US population and its institutions are increasingly influx, and the leaders of the non-profit sector must be responsive to these changes to ensure the continued health of their organizations.

As we learned at the beginning of our course, the state, the market and the non-profit sector are becoming increasingly similar in the roles they play in our society. The state is calling upon non-profits to help with service delivery and accomplishing missions of public good. There is also a proliferation in the number of non-profits, and the competition between these organizations is mirroring the competition seen in the for-profit sector. Non-profits are providing services without the stable tax-base enjoyed by the state, or without the income level of for-profit organizations, and are depending upon donor contributions to fund their work (Dobkin Hall).

Economic shifts are also occurring. In the United States, the middle class is shrinking and wealth is being concentrated among fewer individuals in society (Temin). There are drastic changes in the age demographics of the United States, as well as increases in the racial diversity of the country (Thomas; Robinson). Members of the largest generation – the Baby Boomers – are reaching retirement age, and the younger Generations X, Y and Z are moving into the labor force (Williamson). The internet is also expanding our focus beyond local concerns, and organizations are learning how to use new technologies to reach their stakeholders.

These economic shifts, changes in racial and age demographics, and the rise of globalizing technologies pose additional challenges for the non-profit sector. Tax-incentives may have been a motivator for past non-profit contributions, but lower earning members of society have less to give and are less likely to receive the same benefits for donating to non-profits. Younger generations are suffering from the changes in the economy more than older generations (Temin). Because of their widespread use of technology, these generations may think more nationally and globally, and overlook the benefits and the needs of local non-profits. With the demographic changes in the donor base and the increased number of non-profits, we may see that a shrinking number of contributions are being divided among more and more organizations.

It is the responsibility of a non-profit's leadership to be mindful of these demographic and societal shifts to guide their organization in the increasingly strained non-profit environment. A useful tool for mindfully addressing obstacles is engaging in a SWOT analysis for the organization (United Way). Some leadership responses that may help ameliorate the shifts I have mentions above include increasing the diversity of staff, and collaborating with other non-profits to resist the additional pressures being place upon the sector.

Leaders should also be innovative about how to reach younger generations that have less to give and that are harder to reach because of the rise of the internet and the increase in globalization. In order to gain insights into these groups of potential donors, organizations should focus on increasing the racial and generational diversity of their staff, hiring younger and racially diverse staff members (Thomas, Robinson). Including diverse perspectives with staff benefits the organization’s effectiveness (Thomas). Diversity requires a long-term investment of valuing diverse perspectives, and must be treated like any other business investment (Robinson, 237-238).

In order to combat the additional pressures being place upon the sector by the state, leaders my need to create partnerships with other complementary non-profit organizations to help with the survival of both organizations. If the expectations for service delivery are increasing, non-profits should cooperate rather than compete to draw a bottom line in order to create some stability for their funding and workforce within the sector.  If a stand is not made for stability, then the expectations may become too great and the non-profit sector may buckle under the pressure.

Work Cited

Dobkin Hall P. “Historical Perspectives on Nonprofit Organizations in the United States.” The Jossey-Bass handbook of nonprofit leadership and management. John Wiley & Sons, 2016. Pg. 3-42.

Robinson, G., Dechant, K. “Building a Business for Diversity”. Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall. Pg. 228-240.

Temin, P. 2017. “The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy.” (

Thomas D., Ely R. “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity”. Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall. Pg.

United Way Dane Country “Strategic Planning Process.” Provided by Leslie Ann Howard. Pg. 1-7. 

Williamson, J.B. and D.M. Watts-Roy. (2009). Aging boomers, generational equity, and framing the debate over social security.  In Boomer Bust?  Economic and Political Issues of the Graying Society, edited by Robert B. Hudson.  Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.  153-169.

Diversity: The Utilitarian Kaleidoscope

Why should we care?
In an increasingly stratified and globalized world, our working definition of diversity shifts alongside sociopolitical trends. While diversity has grown from a race-based term to include a kaleidoscope of identities including sex, gender, religion, nationality, income, educational attainment, and many other labels, it continues to lack definition in many ways. In understanding that the term is sociopolitical and will continue to evolve, leaders must operationalize the term in context to their work.

Jeanne McNett writes that an economic argument for diversity is one that recognizes the shifted and globalized pool of consumers. Businesses, in building relationships with consumers and other business leaders, must engage a diverse workforce because they will speak to a larger consumer base and promote creativity, particularly culturally competent creativity that businesses traditionally did not engage.

The same is true for non-profit organizations. Whether engaging potential employees or potential volunteers, diversity matters. Leadership must work with and hire more diverse individuals whom reflect the diverse communities from which they come from. These communities are often the target of non-profit work.

Further, diversity aligns with the philosophical impetus of non-profit work. If non-profits in the U.S. truly bridge the gap services offered by the government or provide greater services to “deserving” often under-recognized groups, then non-profits are engaging in ethical work. According to McNett, this ethical derivation of diversity that non-profits engage in can be categorized into three areas: deontological (faith-based), teleological (hope-based), and caring (charity) approaches to diversity either applied universally or to a particular application. Regardless of the ethical theory applied, the United States is becoming more global along all of these facets and non-profit leadership must engage the audience and constituents.

What are the implications?
As historically excluded groups begin to stratify and make up sub-groups, thus adding to diverse identities, they bring with them varying skills. This idea is mentioned by Thomas Sowell whom noted that while Japan an Switzerland haven’t been historically prosperous in natural resources, their populations have developed a broad range of human capital that promoted economic prosperity (33).

Robinson and Dechant further this examination of diversity in soft skills in citing Fortune 100s data on why human resource executive foster diversity. While laws exist to denounce discrimination and segregation like the Equal Opportunity Employment Act, these HR executives promoted diversity because it’s presence added value to the company. This included creativity and innovation, higher0quality problem solving, greater leadership, and fostering global relationships (230-35).

What can leaders do about it?

For ethical and production reasons, non-profit leaders should foster diversity within their organizations at various levels. While Robinson and Dechant identify four steps to involving diversity in an organization (236-7), I find that they are no different than any other human capital targeting program, whether it be marketing, volunteerism, etc. The main take away is that to foster diversity, one must focus on and set goals to foster diversity. No organization will just happen upon diversity.

Further, Robert Herman (Renz, 2016) notes that executives must traverse both the internal organization and external forces. This reinforces the idea that context matters. Impressions and intentions matter. Having leadership that reflects the community, stakeholders, or other parties is important, particularly when addressing issues from the four distinct organizational perspectives: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. This is starkly apparent in the case study involving the Acheen Malay Mosque Village where, despite having their cultural and historical interests in mind, the Muslim community was distrusting of the Penang Heritage Trust because their board was almost exclusively composed of Chinese-descendant Malay persons.