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Embracing Diversity

June 13, 2018

It Can Get Complicated

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely seen that the workplace has become much more diverse over the last several decades.

A collage of professional headshots

The term “diversity” can have political connotations. If we set those aside and look at the term from an academic or empirical point of view, it’s clear that diversity manifests itself on many dimensions.

Much of the discussion about diversity focuses on practical, legalistic, or normative focal points. These include:

  • How to achieve diversity in a workplace
  • Why an organization must pursue diversity for compliance purposes
  • Discussions of why we should value diversity from a moral perspective

However, theoretical explorations of the potential outcomes of diversity within political or business environments have not been effectively studied. This is largely because it is difficult to engage with the inherently complex nature of those connections.

A good starting point: What do we mean by diversity?

Differences among ethnicity, gender, disabled status, etc. are easy to spot. However, other aspects of diversity aren’t so easy to see. For example, consider nationality (distinct from ethnicity), educational levels, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, professional backgrounds, religious affiliation (or lack thereof) and others.

Furthermore, people are complicated! They may possess multiple layers of identity

We can reason that people tend not to make decisions based on a single layer of their identities. For instance, it’s rare to find someone who bases their decision-making process on their religious point of view alone—though there are a rare few. It’s far more likely that the influence of other aspects of their identity, in addition to religion, make up their decision-making process.

It’s difficult to tease out the potential influence of these identities, which, in turn, makes it difficult to consider the next steps. How might these identities, aggregated to a larger group, affect decision making and, ultimately, outcomes?

For instance, how might gender diversity within a team affect things such as:

  • The length of time needed to complete a project
  • The quality of a project
  • The successful implementation of a project

Creighton’s EdD curriculum tackles diversity head on

In our Interdisciplinary EdD in Leadership program, we don’t shrug our shoulders and walk away from such important questions. Rather, we tackle the complexity head on.

I’ve recently published a paper that examines this topic. In this paper, I proposed that various communication styles typically used by men and women during group projects may benefit from diversity—yet only when women hold influential roles in such groups.

You can learn more about the theories and research surrounding diversity in a variety of courses within the EdD program. Learn more about these courses, such as Women in Leadership, Applied Development Analysis, and others on the EdD program page.

James Martin, JR.

James R. Martin, JR, PhD

Assistant Director and Associate Professor, EdD
Graduate School