Diversity and Performance

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There are many reasons to have a diverse workforce, including the changing demographics of the labor force, social pressures, and legal mandates. Performance gains represent another rationale to which proponents of diversity will frequently point.

Does group diversity, though, actually result in better outcomes? This was a question researchers at the Laboratory for Diversity in Sport at Texas A&M University recently examined.

They aggregated the findings of previous studies and then calculated the overall relationships. The process is called meta-analysis.

They found that group diversity held a small, albeit positive association with a number of group outcomes. There is more to the story, though, as these relationships varied based on specific factors.

Racial and gender diversity, for example, were positively linked with group outcomes, but nationality diversity held a negative association.

Diversity among coaches and administrators resulted in improved outcomes, but on sports teams or in exercise groups, there was no relationship.

Finally, diversity was linked with organizational performance gains, such as revenues generated, and people’s positive attitudes toward work. It was not related, though, to winning or losing on teams.

The findings highlight the importance of thinking about the various factors that influence diversity’s effects. Blanket statements about the influence of diversity will only tell part of the story. Instead, it is important to consider the type of diversity and setting in which people are interacting.