Diversity can be divided into external differences and internal differences. Research has show that diversity has both negative and positive effects in groups. On an organizational level, the benefits of diversity have been clearly proven. However, the upper echelon of organizations is often not diverse. This creates dissonance between what management’s diversity initiatives and its own diversity. The barriers to diversifying management are discussed. There are structural/institutional barriers including director equity policies, a closed appointment system, and the inability of shareholders to force change. There are also cultural/behavioral barriers that include selective access to high-level networks, good old boy networks, and cultural expectations of leaders. Nevertheless, the population and the workforce are becoming more diverse. Diverse management can help manage this increasingly diverse workforce.
How Far Does Diversity Extend:
Does Diversity Apply to Top Level Management?
The American workforce is becoming increasingly diverse. Although the workforce is still dominated by white males, to some extent this is changing. The changing characteristics of the American population require planning for a diverse workforce. Many firms already have plans to manage this diversity. The question remains, how far has diversity gone? Does diversification extend to top level management? This study seeks to answer these questions. The answers are troubling. Diversity has not reached the top levels of management. Most corporate boards are not diverse. This has created a situation where those that are in a position to have the most impact on diversifying an organization are not themselves diverse. The study will explain what is meant by diversity as it has several definitions. I will briefly discuss the arguments for and against diversity within the organization and then on an organizational level. I will then discuss the need for diversity in management in the face of the lack of diversity in corporate boards. This study will discuss the two types of barriers that are in place to maintain the status quo of top level management, and the mechanisms in place that keep the white male elites in the highest echelons of corporate governance. I will then discuss the benefits associated with diversity in management and offer suggestions for increasing diversity in top management.
Generally there are two types of diversity. This first type is considered external. These differences are apparent. According to Milliken and Martins (1996) these are characteristic differences that are easily discernable and physically apparent. They include race, gender, and sometimes ethnicity (Milliken & Martins, 1996). The second types of differences are internal. These differences are not always apparent. They include tenure, functional expertise, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and others (Milliken & Martins, 1996). Most of the research on diversity focuses on the external differences. These external differences are what are usually associated with the negative aspects of being in the minority. These include stereo-typing, tokenism, race representation (being used as a “spokesperson” for the entire race), racism, etc. Most of the research has focused on these external differences and their effect on organizations. Unless otherwise noted, I will focus on the external differences when referring to diversity.[i]
Current State of Diversity Arguments
The vast majority of research into diversity is focused on its effects to an organization and how to manage it. Some studies have shown that there are negative effects to diversity. These include social divisions, difficulty in social integration, difficulties in communication, conflict within the group, and a decrease in commitment (Mannix & Neale, 2005). These negative effects are...