Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Is Diversity Management Sufficient? Organizational Inclusion to Further Performance

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Is Diversity Management Sufficient? Organizational Inclusion to Further Performance

Article excerpt

Introduction

Public organizations are hiring women and minorities to create a diverse workforce that reflects the demographics of the nation. Furthermore, they are providing diversity training that focuses on handling sexual harassment, valuing differences (race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation), and diversity management (offering mentoring, coaching, family/employee friendly policies, alternative work arrangements; Bozeman & Feeney, 2009; Kellough & Naff, 2004; Pitts, 2006, 2009; Pitts, Hicklin, Hawes, & Melton, 2010; Riccucci, 2002; Rice, 2004; Roberson, 2006). These are functional and structural changes that are instituted to recruit and retain minorities and women into the organization. The issue is not about diversity itself, but the challenge lies in integrating and utilizing a diverse workforce toward achieving organizational goals (Pless & Maak, 2004). While title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964, affirmative action, and equal employment legislation have helped diversify the workforce, they have not always helped in creating an environment of inclusion wherein the full potential of diverse employees is realized (Mor Barak, 1999, 2011).

Several authors have stated that the concept of organizational inclusion is the crux of current diversity efforts (Broadnax, 2010; Miller, 1998; Rangarajan & Black, 2007; Riccucci, 2002; Wise, 2002). However, none of these studies have empirically measured organizational inclusive behaviors (OIB) and assessed its impact on performance in the public sector. Thus, the key questions that this study aims to address are (a) do managing diversity efforts improve performance? and (b) what inclusive behaviors should organizations exhibit to enhance performance? While no unified theory of inclusion exists, social identity theory (Tajfel, 1978, 2010), social comparison theory (Festinger, 1954; Mullen & Goethals, 1987), and optimal distinctiveness theory (ODT; M. Brewer, 1991) have been used to advance the concept of OIB.

The social identity theory, developed by social psychologist Henri Tajfel (1978, 2010), proposed that the groups that individuals belong to are a source of self-esteem. The belonging of an individual to a group provides social identity and a sense of fitting in. This theory further posits that we normally divide the world into "them" and "us" in an effort to create distinct out-groups and in-groups. The in-group discriminates against the out-group to enhance self-image. Employee perception is thus on an inclusion-exclusion continuum in which individuals are part of an organizational system where they are involved in both formal and informal decision-making (Mor Barak, 2011).

The social comparison theory similarly assumes that individuals have a need to compare their own opinions and abilities with that of others. Individuals normally compare themselves with those they think are similar in an attempt to maintain a positive self-image. This constant comparison creates perceptions of inclusion or exclusion based on the social interactions that individuals engage in. The ODT seeks to strike a balance between the need to find similarities with others while maintaining a unique identity (M. Brewer, 1991). To fulfill a basic need of belonging, individuals seek inclusion to a group where they are accepted and made to feel secure. The need that employees feel to belong to a group, and at the same time maintain a unique identity, has been argued to form the basis of inclusion literature (Shore et al., 2011).

Organizational Inclusive Behaviors (OIB) OIB is derived from the aforementioned theories of inclusion, and has been described in a variety of ways. Mor-Barak and Cherin (1998, p. 48), for example, defined it as "the degree to which individuals feel part of critical organizational processes," indicated by work group involvement, access to information and resources, and the ability to influence decision-making. …

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