Diversity is delicate

Key insight

An unavoidable buzzword

What is diversity?

The categorization-elaboration model by Van Knippenberg, De Dreu & Homan (2004) explains how diversity can either help or hurt team performance.

When is diversity a good thing?

When is diversity a bad thing?

How should you manage diversity?

  • Think of diversity in a broader sense
    Diversity can be applied across all possible characteristics, not just culture and ethnicity. In fact, culture and ethnicity usually don’t make the largest difference.
  • Promote diversity only when it actually matters
    Multidisciplinary teams can benefit from diversity in skills, opinions, and values. However, that is not a given. Always think of diversity in relation to the task at hand. What problem is the team trying to solve? How can the team benefit from diversity? If diversity is not relevant in your specific situation, don’t strive to increase diversity. Remember: it is a tool, not a goal.
  • In diverse teams, promote inclusivity to prevent intergroup bias
    If you are managing a team in which diversity is salient, members are likely to engage in social categorization. While not a bad thing per se, that can lead to intergroup bias. Therefore, it is important to promote inclusivity in such teams. If all members understand and respect each other, they are less likely to develop a negative bias and more likely to engage in information elaboration.
  • Be culturally sensitive to properly assess social categorization
    There are many ‘lines’ along which members can categorize the others. Gender, nationality, ethnicity, professional background, seniority, and so on. Be aware of these so-called ‘faultlines’ to understand in what ways members categorize each other.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Twan Ackermans

Twan Ackermans

Aspiring manager interested in the complexities of leadership. Trying to cut through the noise without losing an eye for detail. Stay curious.