Managing Diversity in Corporate America: An Exploratory Analysis

Managing Diversity in Corporate America: An Exploratory Analysis

Managing Diversity in Corporate America: An Exploratory Analysis

Managing Diversity in Corporate America: An Exploratory Analysis

Synopsis

Develops a fact-based approach to modeling diversity management in U.S. corporations, analyzes the strategies pursued by 14 large U.S. companies recognized for their diversity or human resource achievements, and compares a number of company characteristics. Firms recognized for diversity are distinguished by a core set of motives and practices, but best practices per se may not enable a company to achieve a high level of diversity.

Excerpt

Managing diversity has become a primary concern of top U.S. corporations. As a result, a cottage industry of firms specializing in diversity management has emerged to help corporate executives identify appropriate diversity policies and programs. Generally, however, the diversity management literature consists of a laundry list of best practices that is not well organized, prioritized, or integrated. In contrast to this rule-based approach, the authors attempt to lay the groundwork for a fact-based approach to diversity management. We first establish a framework for evaluating approaches to diversity management on the basis of a synthesis of the best practices literature. We then use our diversity management model to determine whether diversity-friendly corporations really do stand out from other companies by analyzing the strategies pursued by 14 large U.S. companies recognized by Fortune magazine for their diversity or human resource (HR) achievements. Finally, to understand whether best practices alone make a company diversity-friendly, we compare a number of characteristics of best diversity companies, best HR companies, and other companies, using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Our principal findings are that firms recognized for diversity are distinguished by a core set of motives and practices that resemble those presented in the best practices literature, but that best practices per se may not enable a company to achieve a high level of diversity. Contextual factors, such as industry affiliation and company size, may be as significant as strategic factors in influencing the extent of a company’s diversity.

This paper is the final product of an Independent Research and Development (IR&D) project on best practices in corporate diversity management and results from the RAND Corporation’s continuing program of self-initiated research. Support for such research is provided, in part, by donors and by the independent research and development provisions of RAND’s contracts for the operation of its U.S. Department of Defense federally funded research and development centers. This study was conducted under the auspices of the RAND Labor and Population Program, a division of the RAND Corporation. The paper should be of particular interest to business and government leaders, human resource professionals, and academic researchers interested in diversity management issues in large organizations.

To comment or obtain more information on this study, please contact Dr. Jefferson P. Marquis, jmarquis@rand.org, (310) 393-0411, ext. 6123; or Dr. Nelson Lim, nlim@rand.org, (310) 393-0411, ext. 7291.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.