- Managers must focus on how team members perceive diversity in order for diversity initiatives to succeed, according to Meir Shemla, associate professor for organisational behaviour at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
- Shemla, who co-published a 2018 paper researching diversity management practices in organizations, said in a statement that when members of a team are different from each other, they perceive, experience and understand reality differently, which may impede their ability to work together. In research, he found that cohesion and trust among very diverse teams tends to be low. Shemla said achieving equality in an organization doesn't necessarily mean achieving performance, as the two goals conflict with one another, and that many diversity policies "ignore the fact that you actually need to manage that diversity, which requires a different set of processes and actions."
- A larger pool of information, ideas and perspectives benefits diverse teams, Shemla said. However, "more often than not, what we find is that people don't express those ideas. So information is actually not shared and not integrated in the way that you can really realise the benefits of the diversity.”
Organizations investing time, effort and resources into diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives should be prepared to measure the outcomes of their strategies, and be willing to find and address underlying obstacles, according to research from Boston Consulting Group. A report by the firm released in January found that although 98% of organizations polled had D&I programs, a quarter of the workers targeted by these programs — women, people of color, those who identify as LGBTQ and others — said they didn't see the benefits of these initiatives.
D&I initiatives are also failing many black and Hispanic women, according to a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) study. Women of color in HBR's study said they experience isolation and exclusion as team members, which may lead them to feel resentment and mistrust.
Diversity initiatives encounter many obstacles, but Boston Consulting Group's report pointed to leadership as one culprit. Men ages 45 and older are typically the decision-makers for organizations, the firm said, and they often underestimate the barriers against women, minority employees and others in hiring, retention and promotions. A lack of a business case can also make D&I more difficult, experts previously told HR Dive.