• Robin Ely


December 2020, Paper: "These rallying cries for more diversity in companies, from recent statements by CEOs, are representative of what we hear from business leaders around the world. They have three things in common: All articulate a business case for hiring more women or people of color; all demonstrate good intentions; and none of the claims is actually supported by robust research findings. We say this as scholars who were among the first to demonstrate the potential benefits of more race and gender heterogeneity in organizations. In 1996 we published an HBR article, “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity,” in which we argued that companies adopting a radically new way of understanding and leveraging diversity could reap the real and full benefits of a diverse workforce. This new way entailed not only recruiting and retaining more people from underrepresented “identity groups” but also tapping their identity-related knowledge and experiences as resources for learning how the organization could perform its core work better. Our research showed that when companies take this approach, their teams are more effective than either homogeneous teams or diverse teams that don’t learn from their members’ differences. Such companies send a message that varied points of view are valued and don’t need to be suppressed for the sake of group cohesion. This attitude encourages employees to rethink how work gets done and how best to achieve their goals."

Non-HKS Author Website - Robin Ely