Diversity: Tangible Effects on Culture and Leadership

‘Diversity’ is frequently debated as an empty-bellied decorative corporate leadership maxim that does not bring tangible consequences. But, is that true? As a by-product of Fortune 500 organizations, of course, I am pro-diversity. While we all distinguish that there are unique strengths and equal opportunities, first, comprehending and associating the concept of diversity into leadership styles is vital (Demby, 2015). Diluting stereotypes and stigmas, which are severely embedded in one’s character and in an organization’s culture is the overall key objective of diversity (Ollapally and Bhatnagar, 2009).

Diversity Re-defined

Tangible statistical and empirical research have verified that leveraging on diversity in the workplace for imminent leadership success establishes not only as an inherent competitive advantage, but also as a business imperative and incentive to attain more informed decision-making, greater cultural and linguistic competence, and increased credibility and legitimacy (McCarthy, Rivera, and DeSimone, 2018). Sure, approaches vary depending on the organizational group, industry, national culture, and level of business success aspired for. Through leadership styles on affective, cognitive, and communication, symbolic successes are commonly linked to the types of diversity management being utilized in organizations (Milliken and Martins, 1996). Various custom-designed and action-oriented strategic dimensions, such as customer orientation, corporate social responsibility, human resource management, scientific management, and shareholder value are being explored in greater detail to help managers and leaders develop into more exceptionally holistic and diversity-centric ones (Goldsmith, Baldoni, and McArthur, 2010).

Diversity and Theories

Referencing theories like Geert Hofstede’s culture dimensions Theory, Iceberg Model of Culture, McKinsey 7S Framework, Deal & Kennedy Four Generic types of culture, and Sigmund Freud’s Theory of the Mind, more and more organizations are integrating concepts into their cultural diversity practices. One particular academic study shared how the framework of Blau’s Theory of Heterogeneity contextually provided value and curvilinear relationships between diversity (racial, gender) in management and successful team performance (innovation, financial success) (Richard et al., 2004). These theories are carefully integrated and applied into diversity management trends (outsourcing, offshoring, mergers, acquisitions) and initiatives taken by organizations, which as an effect, have been associated with increased greater market share, sales revenue, and more customers (Herring, 2009).

Diversity and Organizations

Through proactive efforts, leaders can utilize diversity management strategies to transform organizational paradigms and experience measurable bottom-line results (Gilbert, Stead, and Ivancevich, 1999). One study of 33 Information Technology firms discovered that there is a strong relationship between team diversity and firm performance, indicating that diversity: through functional background and locus-of-control, reinforces high-quality decisions and organizational effectiveness (Boone and Hendriks, 2009). Another study of 209 organizations found that even if the focus of diversity management is different across cultures if the basic premise of human resource management on diverse backgrounds (foreigners nationals, females, persons with disabilities, ageing workers) are being practised, it serves as enablers of communication and integration within teams (Kemper, Bader, and Froese, 2016).

Diversity and Leaders

Leadership through diversity plays an important part in creating curiosity that leads to innovation and ultimate success. One study finds that there is 19% more revenue achieved from diversity-driven leaders, because of its myriad of new and novel ideas from its leadership and teams (Powers, 2018). A different study from McKinsey involving 15 countries and 1,000+ large companies reveal that impressive gains in diversity, brought by adopting systematic, business-led innovative leadership by creating a long-lasting “social listening” culture and leaders’ behaviour (Dixon-Fyle et al., 2020). A study of Fortune 500 firms also revealed that global leaders would even go for culturally related international diversification and culturally unrelated globalization to strengthen their innovative diversity management practices (Gomez-Mejia and Palich, 1997). Some of these Best Leadership Workplaces for Diversity include Cisco, Accenture, Hewlett-Packard, and Marriott (Valet, 2019).

Reflection

Even if surface-level diversity is the starting point, which reaps minimal positive effects, as the leadership and teams progress into a deeper level of engagement and meaningful interactions through time, long-lasting diversity cohesion is achievable (Harrison, Price, and Bell, 1998). Yes, I surmise that cultural differences can bring either potential interpersonal conflict or communication breakdowns. Nonetheless, coming up with customized diversity-centred models of engagement can reap substantial benefits in better leadership and organizational decision making (Cox, 1991). Diversity not only provides an engaged learning type of leaders, but as an effect, positive consequences on sociocultural engagement (St. John, Rowley, and Hu, 2009).

Moreover, innovation remarkably plays a part in creating a culture of diversity and inclusion. With the rising generation of new leaders (generation Z, millennials), priorities for management to positively mirror equality and inclusion to ensure self-efficacy and to achieve cross-level effects are more pronounced (Choi, Price, and Vinokur, 2003). Through diversity management, leaders become more engaged against environmental favorability, environmental uncertainty, and organizational isomorphism (Pitts et al., 2010). These can be seen through wildly inspiring leaders like Pandora’s Global Diversity/Inclusion Officer – Adelmise Warner, Conbase’s Global Head of Belonging – Tariq Meyers, and Pfizer’s Global Director Diversity/Inclusion – Rachel Cheeks-Givan (Young, 2019). I cannot disregard how diversity brings about accelerated and tangible innovation, be it directly or indirectly, resulting in either cultural or commercial success.

With the constant increase of diversity-driven research, initiatives, leaders, and organizations, I cannot help but anticipate more newfound tangible consequences out of it.

Care to share your diverse thoughts?

This blogpost is intended to be interactive, so feel free to leave a comment in the section below or, alternatively, you can send a request to find out more about the academic references used in this article.

27 thoughts on “Diversity: Tangible Effects on Culture and Leadership

  1. Impressive surface-level analysis leading into deep level of engagement and meaningful interactions
    I agree with you too that cultural differences can bring about interpersonal conflicts but the potential will certainly bring about the benefits. Undoubtedly a great read and well justified reseach work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great insight about diversity.

    A diverse culture can drive us to be more adaptive and open-minded. I am a pro diversity person too as I believed that we can always learn from each others culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with u that diversity is the intangible assets that the leaders should value. And it is a flesh information that 19% more revenue achieved from diversity-driven leaders. Thanks for the sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Couldn’t agree more that despite the potential interpersonal conflict or communication breakdowns, diversity itself brings about tangible innovation which leads to ultimate business success and personal growth.
    What a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Agree with you. Diversity can cause conflict or communication breakdowns but what’s more important, it brings variety of new ideas that cover wider range of different perspectives which will deliver value to the org.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very thoughtful of the writer about quoted number of examples to bring more insights to the reader! The Blau’s Theory of really encouraging the success in a diversity management in different gender and racial that could innovating the team in a greater performance. I truly believe Eldrin could be a successful person to lead and run the show in any Fortune 500. Thanks for sharing this !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The concept of diversity and its impact on effective leadership and team management truly resonate with me. Understanding and learning from one another and eliminating prejudices are crucial to foster formation of bonds, harmony, and organizational success.

    Thankful to have read this insightful, evidence-based, and well-written material. Looking forward to your next one, Eldrin!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great write-up on diversity! Tons of references on research and studies truly show that there is always a net positive to have diversity as one of the key points to consider for management nowadays, especially with globalization and remote work being part of the new normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Diversity has become a competitive advantage in so many ways. Where I work, our consumers worldwide are diverse and the more we understand the differences in their needs, their backgrounds and their unique circumstances, the more we are able to bring products that delight them. However, our efforts should not end with diversity. We should also make sure that everyone feels included and respected. I also think that more than the quantifiable results, what’s more important is individuals and organizations have same values that they are able to support.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This post is very informative and well written. It is true that cultural differences in the workplace can bring about conflicts or miscommunication, but we cannot underestimate the uniqueness of each individual and the substantial output that each one can offer. Great job to the author for writing this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a very good read, thank you for sharing. I always believe that diversity is one of the main pillar that an organization needs. Diversity fosters innovation and problem-solving by pushing everyone to look at things from different perspectives.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I completely agree with you. When a diverse workforce, backgrounds and cultures are bringing together will drive creativity, foster innovative ideas and boost employee engagement. Diversity values uniqueness and inspiring potential as well. Thanks for sharing this Eldrin!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love how this topic is well-articulated! It is true that diversity can play an exponential role in fostering and nurturing members and leaders of the organization!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Love the insights and how information is consolidated along with the effective use of pictures. A diverse inclusive environment is intentional. With the rise of Gen Z joining the workforce, I believe it would change how the business would behave and affect the culture in the workplace. Great article once again! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Well written blog post about diversity.

    Diversity brings out the best in you. It challenge you to speak up and engage positively with others. In a workplace setting, this “forces” management/leaders to hear issues that’s tough for them to hear. leaders need to embrace it. When an employer injects diverse culture, you will be surprise how it can transcend the team/organization to new level exposing individuals to showcase and bring their talent, passion, and life experience to work. Organization with no walls, no dramas, no nonsense, keeping everyone to speak their mind, open communication and challenging the status quo in a positive way would probably give the employer a competitive advantage to other organization and could attract top talents.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. As your article that Leadership through diversity plays an important part in nowadays, I really agree and this article can be useful for many leaders who want to make working place meaningful for everybody.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks for the article, i enjoyed reading it. I agree that good leaders can navigate through cultural diversity to achieve poaitive and greater organization success!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Couldn’t agree more – diversity not only provides an engaged learning type of leaders, but as an effect, positive consequences on sociocultural engagement. Very interesting read!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great article, as always. You have great references that we can refer to so we can learn more about diversity in leadership or in the workplace as a whole. In the past years, I’ve been more interested in how organisations actually make diversity happen with as little bias as possible, do so in a way that really creates impact for both organisations and their people and make all these positive outcomes really last for everyone. I recently listened to Brene Brown’s podcast related to this. She and Aiko Bethea talked about to not just focus on having diversity but also take into account the Equity and the Inclusion that should come after an organisation put in place their Diversity initiative. You should listen to it! It expanded my mind. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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