CIOIT Staff & Team Building

Diversity Works but We Don’t Know Why

More and more studies demonstrate a positive correlation between workforce diversity and business results. The challenges with such studies though are that the findings are correlative, not causal, and they typically cannot describe the right ways to become “diverse.” In an article for, Paolo Gaudiano addresses these issues and describes what he sees as a more practical approach to diversity.

Diverse and Quantitative

To be clear, Gaudiano absolutely supports diversity in the workplace; he just thinks better data needs to be collected in support of what makes it effective. For instance, since the studies on diversity are largely correlative, a biased person could conclude that businesses who are already succeeding can simply “afford” to have more diversity. Likewise, even if everyone agrees that diversity is good, there is no consensus on what type or what degree of diversity is needed.

Gaudiano chooses to bypass the current question of if diversity is “good” altogether, thinking that the answer to that question is ultimately as simple as the old question of, “Should we advertise on the Internet?” But finding qualitative data to fill in the gaps of understanding in how diversity augments business is blatantly difficult. Several measures of employee performance are ultimately subjective, or are objective but pertain to only a “local” scale where it cannot be seen what greater organizational effect will be had:

The good news is that, in the past two decades, agent-based simulation is emerging as a leading technique to capture the behavior of complex systems, with applications in a variety of industries, ranging from marketing analytics to economics. Recently, my colleagues and I have begun to explore the application of agent-based simulation specifically to organizational diversity. In our early results, we were able to show, for example, that simply removing unconscious biases is not sufficient to restore imbalances created by these biases.

It is my hope that, ten years from now, talent management will become the single, most strategic function of any executive team.

The search for richer data is on. For some more thoughts, you can view the original article here:

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