Rethinking Diversity LO11898

Arthur Battram (
Tue, 14 Jan 1997 11:04:50 +0000

Replying to LO11780 --

>>From: (Ian Saunders)
>>However I have a particular concern. There is a risk that this approach
>>leads to a narrowing of individual styles which over time will diminish
>>the culture. The end of the line is a bunch of clones. Unless the culture
>>explicitly seeks diversity and builds managing this successfully into its
>>culture (something that I don;t see very often) the potential benefits of
>>varied styles and personalities are lost.
>>I feel stuck on the horns of a dilemma. It is important to recruit people
>>who fit and how do I ensure that this does lead to a set of clones??

Ian, there's a fascinating article in a recent issue of Harvard Business
Review. It addresses, inter alia, just the issue you raise.

The title is 'Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm For Managing
Diversity' by David A. Thomas and Robin J. Ely. pp79-90 and it was in the
sept/oct '96 issue.

The research identifies 2 existing approaches:
-discrimination and fairness
-access and legitimacy

they identify a 3rd emerging approach:

-learning and effectiveness

which incorporates aspects of the first two then go further by 'connecting
diversity to approaches to work'.

They summarise 4 types of action which organisations using the new
approach are taking:

1. they are making the mental connection
2. they are legitimating open discussion
3.they actively work against forms of dominance and subordination that
inhibit full contribution
4.they are making sure that organisational trust stays intact.

Dissapointingly for us l-o fans, they make no mention of the l-o idea, but
given the title 'learning and effectiveness', it seems worthy of
investigation by readers of this list.

Best wishes

Arthur Battram


from Arthur Battram, organisational learning adviser, helping local authorities to apply complexity concepts to personal and organisational learning. 'Learning from Complexity' pack available real soon now, approx 110 full price [55 -half price- for local authorities in England and Wales who finance LGMB] for details email me:

***the truth? that would be an ekumenical matter...***

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>