There exists a sentiment in corporate America that diversity in the workplace can negatively impact the bottom line because hiring people from different backgrounds could spark more internal conflict.
Not necessarily so, writes Donnalyn Pompper in her latest book.
The associate professor of strategic communication, who has taught at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication since 2007, has published Practical and Theoretical Implications of Successfully Doing Difference in Organizations with Emerald Group Publishing. The book examines why a conscious and sustained commitment to diversity is needed in organizations.
It’s a hard case to argue, Pompper said, because the benefits, such as building respect among co-workers or enhanced creativity, may be less tangible than financial success or failure.
“Diversity management in organizations remains a highly controversial issue – and valuing all people by providing equal opportunities at work persists as one of the central challenges of the 21st century,” Pompper said.
As a result, she found that diversity programs in organizations “fail to explore root causes of enduring power relations, which perpetually stratify people negatively according to their social identity dimensions.”
Pompper said workplace diversity goes beyond ethnicity and race.
“My book is about how these social identity dimensions are important, but that diversity is much, much more than that one social identity dimension, because each intersects with so many others,” she said, noting that age, culture, gender, physical/psychological ability, faith, sexual orientation, social class and more should all be taken under consideration.
When there’s a solid “business case,” for diverse hiring, Pompper said a company is more likely to take that step. For example, a PR firm may hire a Latina to work on Hispanic business accounts or an ad agency might hire a gay man for its fashion accounts.
“There’s a lot of push-back from employees when they suspect a colleague is hired only because he or she is x,” Pompper said, “because everyone wants processes to be fair and equitable.”
It’s her hope that the findings in her book can help its readers become “future managers and researchers who embrace social identity difference.”