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158 Public Administration Review • March/April 2005, Vol. 65, No. 2

Judith R. Saidel
Karyn Loscocco
University at Albany, State University of New York

Agency Leaders, Gendered Institutions, and
Representative Bureaucracy

This study examines three central questions: Do women state agency heads establish priorities that
advance women’s interests more frequently than men agency heads? Among state agency heads
with women-related top priorities, are there systematic differences between women and men in the
influences on their priority choices? Do the organizational and political contexts in which agency
leaders work explain variation in policy priorities? Analysis of data from a national survey of
women and men department heads reveals that working in a redistributive agency affects whether
a leader pursues a women-centered policy agenda, regardless of the leader’s gender, other per-
sonal characteristics, or reported influences on priority choice. The authors conclude that the way
representative bureaucracy actually plays out can be more fully understood if the tenets of social
science theory on gendered institutions are incorporated into analyses of how representative bu-
reaucracy works.

Scholars have wrestled with the theoretical complexi-
ties of representative bureaucracy for decades. In the last
35 years, a number of public administration and political
science researchers in the United States have invested sig-
nificant effort in this enterprise (Mosher 1968; Krislov
1974; Meier and Nigro 1976; Thompson 1976; Rosen-
bloom and Featherstonhaugh 1977; Saltzstein 1979; Reh-
fuss 1986; Meier 1993; Riccucci and Saidel 1997).

One reason for the sustained interest in representative
bureaucracy is that this notion is fundamental to prevail-
ing ideas about how bureaucracy fits into a democratic
polity (Kelly 1998; Naff and Crum 2000). Hale and Kelly
articulate the core idea clearly: “[There is] widespread ac-
ceptance of the notions that in a democracy public bureau-
cracies ought to be representative in meaningful ways of
the citizen-clients they serve, and that representation based
on demographic characteristics can lead to meaningful rep-
resentation” (1989, 9). Representative bureaucracy has
become a “powerful symbol” (Meier and Nigro 1976, 467)
of equal access, opportunity, and the inclusion of group
interests in administrative decision making, despite some
findings that challenge the central ideas of the construct
(Meier and Nigro 1976; Rehfuss 1986).

A second reason for continuing research on representa-
tive bureaucracy is the construct’s rich theoretical and nor-

mative content, which invites reexamination by investiga-
tors with widely varying research interests. Like a com-
pelling book or a work of art to which one returns again
and again, the multidimensional set of ideas embedded in
representative bureaucracy provokes continuous reengage-
ment by researchers with new combinations of questions
and approaches.

The study we describe here emerges from our interest
in the intersection of gender, institutions, and represen-
tative bureaucracy. Following Rosenthal (1997) and
Kenney (1996), who exhort researchers to draw on inter-
disciplinary scholarship in studies of political institutions,
we draw on the research of sociologists, organizational
theorists, and political scientists to inform our inquiry
(Acker 1990; Martin 1992; Calas and Smircich 1992;

Judith R. Saidel is executive director of the Center for Women in Govern-
ment and Civil Society and an associate professor of public administration
and policy at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her
research interests include the demographics of executive branch leadership
and representative bureaucracy, government and nonprofit sector relation-
ships, and nonprofit governance. E-mail: Saidel@albany.edu.

Karyn Loscocco is an associate professor of sociology at the University at
Albany, State University of New York. She is interested in how gender struc-
tures social life. Much of her previous research focuses on how gender colors
the meanings that people attach to paid work and the fit between work and
family lives. She recently completed a study of women and men small busi-
ness owners. E-mail: KAL74@albany.edu.

Agency Leaders, Gendered Institutions, and Representative Bureaucracy 159

Lorber 1994; Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Kenney 1996;
Rosenthal 1997).

Introduction
Scholarship on gender and institutions prompts us to

analyze gender not only as an individual variable, as tradi-
tional research on representative bureaucracy has done, but
also as an organizing principle of social institutions (Acker
1990; Lorber 1994). In fact, Glenn (1999) suggests the
feminist emphasis on gender as a social construction leads
us away from considering gender as solely—or even
mostly—an individual attribute. Gender is embedded in
jobs, departments, divisions, and organizational activity
(Martin 1992). Thus, gender may be important to repre-
sentative bureaucracy because it shapes the social and cul-
tural contexts in which people do their work. Recent rep-
resentative bureaucracy studies have incorporated such
insights, leading to new theoretical emphases. For instance,
Keiser et al. build a “neoinstitutional theory of representa-
tive bureaucracy and gender” (2002, 557) that specifies
links among gender, the institutional contexts in which
bureaucrats function, and organizational outputs. They ar-
gue that attention to gendered institutional contexts enables
researchers to go beyond the question of whether gender
as an ascribed characteristic matters in bureaucracies, to a
deeper inquiry about the circumstances under which bu-
reaucrats with certain demographic characteristics are more
likely to act in ways that advance the interests of individu-
als with the same characteristics. Kelly and Newman’s find-
ings (2001), which support a similar conclusion, will be
examined in greater detail in this article.

We begin our inquiry within a traditional framework
that includes gender as an individual attribute, focused on
the priorities of women and men department heads1 ap-
pointed by governors in the 50 states, and ask whether gen-
der, as a demographic characteristic of agency leaders,
explains variation in their policy priorities. Specifically,
we ask, do women state agency heads establish priorities
that could advance women’s interests more frequently than
men agency heads? Second, among state agency heads with
women-related top priorities, are there systematic differ-
ences between women and men in the influences on prior-
ity choice?

As a preview to the extended analysis that follows, we
offer this brief summary of our preliminary findings:
Whereas 50 percent of women department heads indicated
that one or more of the policy priorities at the top of their
agendas was intended to help women, only 35 percent of
men department heads did so (p < .05). At the same time,
the strongest influence on priority choice for both women
and men was identical—their own personal values, beliefs,
and experiences.

Next, we extend the inquiry to the contexts of agency
leader agenda setting and ask, do the organizational and
political contexts in which agency leaders work explain
variation in their policy priorities? We focus particularly
on the state political culture, the political party of the ap-
pointing governor, and agency type. Our finding? Work-
ing in a redistributive agency affects whether a leader pur-
sues a women-centered policy agenda, no matter what the
leader’s gender, other personal characteristics, or reported
influences. We conclude that the ways in which represen-
tative bureaucracy actually plays out can be more fully
understood if important tenets from recent social science
theory on gendered institutions are incorporated into analy-
ses of how representative bureaucracy works.

The article begins with an overview of selected studies,
after which we explain the conceptual framework that struc-
tures the study. In the research methodology section, we
describe an exploratory pilot study conducted through on-
site interviews in eight states, as well as a subsequent na-
tional survey of all women department heads and a strati-
fied matched sample of men department heads. The
findings section presents our analysis of data on policy
priorities, environmental influences on agenda setting, and
the effects of contextual variables. The discussion and con-
clusion draw out the implications of the findings, espe-
cially with respect to representative bureaucracy, the link
between representation and responsiveness, and the im-
portance of institutional contexts characterized by gendered
structures and processes. We end with suggestions for key
issues in need of additional research attention.

Overview of Selected Studies
Historically, representative bureaucracy researchers

have limited their attention to career bureaucrats, at least
partly because of their interest in influences that might
mitigate the rigidities of organizations in the hands of
Weberian “cogs” in bureaucratic machines.2 Numerous
studies have focused on “street-level bureaucrats” (Lipsky
1980), who often exercise significant discretion at the point
of direct service delivery. Other studies examine the rep-
resentativeness of mid-level managers and supervisors in
public agencies.3

We argue here that, given the positional power of those
at the head of complex or smaller but still hierarchically
structured public agencies, it is especially important that
appointed leaders be part of a representativeness calculus.
Although it is certainly true that political appointees func-
tion within a very different set of dynamics, which .
Aberbach and Rockman (2000) describe as a “web of poli-
tics,” that web nonetheless includes the competing pres-
sures of bureaucratic processes. In an examination of the
meanings of representative bureaucracy, Aberbach and

160 Public Administration Review • March/April 2005, Vol. 65, No. 2

Rockman challenge the accuracy of conclusions about the
relative representativeness of different bureaucracies that
do not take into account top-level decision makers:

In short, the most representative bureaucracies in
the modern world—representative when one looks
at a profile of all their employees—have a very dif-
ferent appearance at the top. One can debate the
relative impact of this difference, but at a minimum
it does cast a pall over notions underlying ideas
about the genuine representativeness of what may
appear on the surface to be a fairly representative
bureaucracy. (50)

Thus, the representative-bureaucracy construct should not
be limited only to those within the bureaucratic arena by
virtue of their career civil service status (Dometrius 1986;
Riccucci and Saidel 1997). Explanations of both the sub-
stantive and symbolic importance of representativeness do
not lose meaning when applied to individuals working as
chief executives of state government agencies. In fact, in
the current climate of devolved responsibility for major re-
source allocation and programmatic decisions, the repre-
sentativeness of those at the top of public bureaucracies at
the state government level assumes even more importance.

The differing impact of women and men political and
managerial leaders on outcomes that could benefit women
has been the subject of important research for many years
(Carroll 1985, 1994; Hale and Kelly 1989; Saint-Germain
1989; Dodson and Carroll 1991; Tolleson-Rinehart 1991;
Duerst-Lahti and Johnson 1992; Stivers 1993; Thomas
1994; Tamerius 1995). Dodson and Carroll’s (1991) study
of the top priorities of women and men state legislators is
especially relevant to our research questions because of its
focus on individual agenda setting. They found the top leg-
islative agenda items of women state lawmakers focused
on women’s rights issues more frequently than did the pri-
orities of men legislators. A large gender gap also existed
with respect to the bills that each group of officials had
worked on during the current legislative session.

A similar study by Saint-Germain (1989) focused on
the initiation of policy proposals, a step in the policy pro-
cess that is very close to priority setting. In a longitudinal
study of bills in the Arizona state legislature between 1969
and 1986, Saint-Germain found that women legislators
were more likely than men to initiate bills on issues that
are traditionally associated with women’s concerns and
promoting women’s equality. Reviewing the literature sev-
eral years later, Carroll concludes, “Clearly, one of the most
striking ways in which women officeholders make a dif-
ference is through the attention they devote to women’s
rights issues” (1994, 14).

By applying questions about systematic differences in
policy priorities by gender to the leadership cohort of ap-

pointed state government department heads, we grapple
again with the notion of active representative bureaucracy.
Passive representative bureaucracy is the condition of con-
gruence between the demographic characteristics of the bu-
reaucracy and the general population and, therefore, the pre-
sumed congruence between bureaucratic decisions and the
policy preferences of the general population. Active repre-
sentative bureaucracy suggests that government officials will
act in ways that benefit those in the general public who
share their gender or race group membership. Conventional
wisdom and the research literature hold that, in general,
political appointees bow to the priorities and values of the
chief executive whom they serve. In a classic study of ex-
ecutive branch politics, Heclo (1977) included evidence of
the loyalties of political appointees to the elective official
who appointed them.4 Interestingly, he also identified “di-
rection-setting,” a term that overlaps with our study’s pri-
ority-setting focus, as a central definitional element of po-
litical leadership. Also writing about the federal level of
government, Kingdon observed, “The appointee finds it
prudent to bend with the presidential wind…” (1995, 29).

Past research suggests there are other important influ-
ences on priority setting, including work socialization (Meier
and Nigro 1976; Rehfuss 1986), personal values and expe-
riences (Riccucci 1995), values and experiences rooted in
professional training (Mosher 1982; Hebert and Wright
1982; Keiser et al. 2002), ties with outside interest groups
(Carroll 1992), and other external pressures. Each of these
influences, as well as loyalty to the chief executive, could
either reinforce or mitigate active representative bureaucracy,
in the sense that dominant agenda-setting influences could
push the agency leader toward or away from priorities that
favor groups with characteristics like his or her own.5

The research literature also provides valuable clues about
contextual variables that might explain variation in the
agenda-setting priorities of agency heads. Measures of dif-
ference in state political cultures have figured in empirical
investigations for many decades and have been reported as
important predictors of variation in a range of outcomes
(Elazar 1972, 1984; Erickson, Wright, and McIver 1993).
Another traditional political measure of difference in policy
choices is political party.

The third contextual variable in the multivariate phase
of our study, agency type, derives from more recent re-
search on gender and organizations. A discussion of key
insights, relevant to the questions examined here, from pio-
neering work on gendered institutions is included in the
“Expanded Conceptual Framework” section.

Conceptual Framework
Saltzstein’s theoretical model (figure 1) of the “mecha-

nisms of responsiveness” (1979, 466) guided the initial

Agency Leaders, Gendered Institutions, and Representative Bureaucracy 161

phase of our study.6 She integrates earlier studies and pos-
its consecutive links between ascribed characteristics and
values, values and behavior, and behavior and policy.

sion makers. For instance, Rehfuss argues, “the most im-
portant decisions are made or influenced at top levels”
(1986, 454). In a classic study of agenda setting and alter-
native selection at the federal level, Kingdon (1995) finds
that political appointees are part of the “visible cluster”
that dominates the agenda-setting process. “Even when the
political appointees do not originate an idea,” he reports,
“they still play a large part in placing it on the agendas of
important people, both within and outside of their agen-
cies” (28). Writing about both political appointees and top-
career executives, Aberbach and Rockman maintain, “Fi-
nally, when looking at the representational qualities of a
bureaucracy, it is important to distinguish the entire orga-
nization from those at the top who have the major influ-
ence over how policy is interpreted and implemented”
(2000, 49). Along with their emphasis on positional power,
Aberbach and Rockman contend that, with respect to ca-
reer bureaucrats, “demographic or social class representa-
tiveness is apparently a weak reed on which to hang hopes
for a truly representative bureaucracy” (49).

While recognizing that players at all levels in public
agencies may have an impact on policy outcomes, we ac-
knowledge the dominant influence of positional leaders in
hierarchically structured public agencies and, in the pre-
liminary phase of this study, examine policy prioritizing
by top-ranking gubernatorial political appointees. Because
top decision makers likely face the fewest constraints, they
are apt to show the closest correspondence among values,
behavior, and policy outcomes. Thus, it is an important
place to tackle the question of whether gender matters.

Expanded Conceptual Framework
In the expanded conceptual framework that guided the

second phase of our study, we incorporate insights from
social science theory on gendered institutions (figure 2).

By placing Saltzstein’s hypothesized links between as-
cribed characteristics and policy within the context of

Figure 1 Saltzstein’s (1979) Mechanisms of
Responsiveness

Ascribed characteristics → values → behavior → policy

Figure 2 Institutional Context and Representative
Bureaucracy

Ascribed characteristics—values
→ behavior → policy

G
en

de
red

Institutional Context

Reinforcing the warnings of researchers such as Thomp-
son (1976), Rehfuss (1986), Meier (1993), however,
Saltzstein argues that each link is fraught with method-
ological peril for those who attempt to operationalize parts
or all of the model. Clearly, this is a heuristic device for
disentangling the complex relationships that underpin rep-
resentative bureaucracy theory. We recognize there are other
variables that influence the links between each component
of Saltzstein’s model.

The preliminary focus of our study is the link between
an ascribed characteristic—gender—of executive branch
state agency leaders and their top policy priorities. We use
a department head’s self-identified priorities as a proxy
for both the “values” and “behavior” elements of
Saltzstein’s model. Findings reported later in the article
substantiate the appropriateness of this proxy measure for
values. For the people in our sample, there appears to be a
close correspondence between values and behavior, per-
haps because we are studying decision makers with some
positional power at the top of their organizations. When
we asked respondents how closely their policy work
matches their preferred agenda, we found a high match
between actual work and preferred agendas for almost
three-quarters of the respondents. From the perspective of
active representative bureaucracy, the particular agenda
priorities we are most interested in are those that could
benefit women inside and outside the agency.

As predicted by earlier representative bureaucracy re-
searchers, a number of conceptual and methodological
problems are immediately apparent. One of our major con-
cerns is what we describe as the single-actor problem. Some
authors have warned against overstating the influence of
individuals in governmental bureaucracies on policy out-
comes (Saltzstein 1979; Meier and Stewart 1992; Meier
1993; Moore 1995).7 We avoid this problem by focusing
on the link between the individual at the top of a hierarchi-
cally structured bureaucracy and that individual’s self-iden-
tified policy priorities. We do not attempt to operationalize
the complicated link between a department head’s policy
priorities and formal agency policy. We think it is reason-
able to assume that enacted agency policy is related to the
agency chief executive’s priorities, but examination of this
link is beyond the scope of this analysis.

A number of studies make the strong case that analyses
of representative bureaucracy should target top-level deci-

162 Public Administration Review • March/April 2005, Vol. 65, No. 2

gendered institutions, we intend to suggest that studies of
the way representative bureaucracy works or does not work
must take into account the gendered nature of political in-
stitutions such as the state agencies our respondents di-
rect. We replace the arrow between ascribed characteris-
tics and values with a dotted line to indicate the link between
gender and values may be modified by the context in which
women and men are working.

During the last two decades, sociologists and organiza-
tional theorists have built a considerable body of literature
about gendered institutions. According to Acker, a key theo-
rist of this new paradigm, “The term ‘gendered institutions’
means that gender is present in the processes, practices,
images and ideologies, and distributions of power in the
various sectors of social life” (quoted in Kenney 1996, 446).

Insights that both foreshadow and contribute to the con-
struct of gendered institutions are represented in classic
and more recent studies of representative bureaucracy.
Meier and Nigro (1976) found that agency affiliation had
a stronger impact on attitudes than gender. Keiser et al.
(2002) make the important point that institutions in which
gender is embedded influence the context in which indi-
viduals make decisions and act on those decisions. Based
on a public education study that finds significant links be-
tween institutional features and girls’ math scores, they
argue that the compelling research task is “interpreting data
in light of the larger institutional features that shape the
circumstances in which bureaucrats exercise discretion and
act to affect policy outcomes” (2002, 554).

Kelly and Newman (2001) also focus on institutional
context and report that agency type is an institutional struc-
ture in state government where gender is clearly manifested.
Utilizing Lowi’s (1985) categorization of agencies as dis-
tributive, redistributive, or regulatory,8 they examine data
across agencies in Alabama, Arizona, and Florida on em-
ployment patterns, pay inequalities, and sexual harassment.
In each case, patterns of difference based on gender occur
across agency types. For instance, the authors examine the
proportions of women and men employed in the three kinds
of agencies. Women and men held about an equal propor-
tion of middle- and upper-level positions in regulatory agen-
cies; in distributive agencies women held a substantially
smaller proportion of such posts; and in redistributive agen-
cies, the proportion of women was substantially higher than
in either regulatory or distributive departments.

In addition to the analysis of employment patterns, Kelly
and Newman’s examination of pay inequalities at the up-
per levels of administration and women’s experience of
sexual harassment in the three agency types leads them to
conclude that “state bureaucracies are heavily gendered
and … the policy type of the agency is an important factor
in the gendering” (2001, 17–19). Based on evidence of
variation in patterns of active representation of women

across agency type, the proposition they articulate is sup-
ported: “Given the gendered nature of state bureaucracies
across policy type, it is highly likely that more active rep-
resentation of women will occur in redistributive than in
either distributive or regulatory agencies” (20).

These studies recognize that passive and active repre-
sentation are more likely to be linked when the context in
which policy decisions are made supports that link. Un-
derscoring this point, Meier (1993) suggests that organi-
zations may make it difficult for policy makers to engage
in active representation because of institutional policies or
priorities that constrain identification with a group that
shares one’s demographic characteristics. One pertinent
study from the political science literature found that in some
states, women legislators formed caucuses and constructed
policy agendas focused on women’s interests. However, in
other states women were so divided they did not form or-
ganizational structures to facilitate joint work on agenda
setting (Mueller 1984).

Building on the important research cited previously, the
second phase of our study examines the context in which
agency leaders set policy priorities. We recognize that gen-
der may be embedded in the organizational contexts in
which policy priorities are decided. We also acknowledge
there may be constraints on the ability of agency leaders in
state government to pursue an identity-based agenda, such
as the appointing governor’s priorities or the prevailing
political ideology of the governor’s party.

Data and Methods
Exploratory Pilot Study

To lay the groundwork for a national survey of state
agency leaders, we conducted a qualitative pilot study to
explore whether and under what influences agency lead-
ers promote internal and external policies that are benefi-
cial to women’s interests.9 We drew primarily on the lit-
erature on representative bureaucracy and women and
politics to identify independent variables and to formulate
hypotheses. Independent variables, to be described later,
were at the individual, organizational, and contextual lev-
els of analysis.

Between the spring and fall 1998, we pre-tested a
semistructured interview protocol and then conducted in-
depth, on-site interviews with a total of 24 women agency
heads, including nine women of color, and 10 men agency
executives in eight states.10 States were selected based on
region, the presence of women in executive positions, the
functional type of agency headed by women, the party of
the governor, and political culture as measured by a com-
posite index of state policies on a number of issues
(Erickson, Wright, and McIver 1993). States in the study
included California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana,

Agency Leaders, Gendered Institutions, and Representative Bureaucracy 163

Maryland, New York, and Vermont.11

Computer-assisted analysis of the 34 interviews from
the pilot study yielded a richly textured picture of compet-
ing pressures balanced by agency executives who run com-
plex public bureaucracies around the country. The
semistructured interview format gave respondents the
chance to raise issues or suggest connections we had not
anticipated. In addition, it uncovered the language and ways
of thinking of the pilot-study interviewees, enabling us to
build into the subsequent survey instrument the full range
of choices relevant to respondents. In the spring of 2000,
four former executive bureaucratic leaders who had recently
moved to new career positions pre-tested the survey proto-
col and made valuable suggestions about ways to clarify
particular questions. These recommendations were subse-
quently incorporated into the survey.

National Survey
In June, we mailed surveys to all women department

heads in the country, to all men who head civil and human
rights agencies, and to the same number of men and women
who lead labor, human resources, health, and public wel-
fare, and employment security agencies. These are the func-
tional areas where women are most likely to head agen-
cies. To complete the sample pool, we mailed surveys to a
random sample of men, equal to the total number of women
in agencies other than those specified previously. We used
a stratified matched methodology for agency type to con-
trol for gender bias in the distribution of women and men
policy leaders across government functions (Saidel 1998).

To maximize the response rate, we followed up with a
postcard to all nonrespondents about three weeks after the
first mailing. In early August, another letter with a second
survey enclosed was sent to all nonrespondents. In mid-
September we contacted by telephone all women nonre-
spondents and a random sample of men who had not re-
sponded. These strategies yielded 215 usable surveys (129
returned by women, 86 returned by men) for a response
rate of 42 percent for women and 28 percent for men.12 In
1999, 25.8 percent of the total number of department heads
(n = 1,244) in the 50 states were women and 74.1 percent
were men (Saidel 1999). Although women held about one-
quarter of all agency head positions in 1999, they consti-
tute two-thirds of our sample. In the multivariate results
section, we explain how we corrected for the skewed pool
of respondents in data analysis.

Variables
Based on analysis of the pilot interview data, we identi-

fied 10 major influences on agenda setting among agency
leaders. The appendix lists the 10 individual, organizational,
and environmental influences. Individual-level variables
may apply to the department head or to the governor who

appointed the executive; organizational-level variables
apply to the executive’s agency; and environmental-level
variables relate to sources of external pressure, including
the legislature, interest groups, media, and statutory or regu-
latory requirements.

In the survey, we first asked department heads the fol-
lowing question: “Briefly describe one of your major policy
priorities. Please provide a specific rather than a general
priority.” We then asked respondents to indicate on a scale
of 1 to 5 (1 = not at all important, 3 = somewhat important,
and 5 = very important) the importance of 10 different in-
fluences on the choice of the policy listed. The next ques-
tion asked agency heads which influence had the strongest
effect on his or her choice of policy priority. This sequence
of questions was repeated for three different priorities, fol-
lowed by the questions, “Among the priorities listed above,
is one or more specifically intended to help white women
or women and men of color? If yes, which one(s)?”

Consistent with the cautionary note of Meier (1993) and
others about the difficulty of achieving conceptual preci-
sion in empirical research on representative bureaucracy,
we note some intended ambiguity in our model’s specifi-
cation. We operationalized our dependent variable—policy
priorities that could benefit women—in the phrase “spe-
cifically intended to help white women or women and men
of color.” Some priorities might benefit women of color
(and men) but would not appear to benefit all women.
However, we felt that respondents, especially women of
color, should not have to make an artificial distinction be-
tween gender-related and race- or ethnicity-related choices
(Crenshaw 1993). It is entirely reasonable for women of
color to identify policies that benefit people of color and
to view those as women-related policies. Still, a conse-
quence of this wording is that some priorities reported by
respondents may reflect an intention to benefit people of
color in general more than women in particular.

With respect to the model’s independent variables—in-
fluences on priority choices—it is likely that, because of
appointment screening processes, most appointees’ per-
sonal values overlap with the governor’s values and policy
preferences. As a result, the distinction between the strength
of influence of these two independent variables may be
difficult to determine. Similarly, it is possible

draft

Women Bureaucrats in Male-Dominated Professions 1063

†Sebawit G. Bishu
University of Colorado Denver

Equal Employment Opportunity: Women Bureaucrats in
Male-Dominated Professions

Abstract: The public sector prides itself on being a place where women and other marginalized groups can find
shelter from workplace discrimination. Still, gender inequities are evident in the public sector workforce. In this
article, interview data from city managers and police officers highlight the gendered internal organizational processes,
arrangements, and interactions that impact women’s experiences in male-dominated roles. Despite seemingly equal
opportunities to access and engagement in these bureaucratic roles, the findings suggest that women constantly face
gendered barriers and boundaries that directly impact their experiences on the job and their work-related outcomes.
Legislative and administrative remedies are not sufficient to eliminate gendered experiences of women in male-
dominated roles. Rather, a cultural change from within the workplace is vital to realize the efforts of civil rights laws
established more than 50 years ago.

Evidence for Practice
• Women in male-dominated roles in the public sector face covert barriers that have implications for their

daily work experiences and subsequent job-related outcomes.
• Gender inequities can be rooted and reproduced in organizational structures, processes, and the design of

work. Thus, organizational commitment to conduct an internal inventory of places where inequities are
reproduced is essential.

• Gender analysis skills are an integral part of preparing the current and future public administration
workforce to identify differential experiences and outcomes for women in public service.

Andrea M. Headley
Ohio State University

Andrea M. Headley is assistant

professor at the Ohio State University.

Formerly, she was a postdoctoral fellow

in the Goldman School of Public Policy at

the University of California, Berkeley. She

is a public management, social equity, and

criminal justice policy scholar. At the heart

of her research lies the question of how we

can create a more effective and equitable

government.

Email: headley.74@osu.edu

Sebawit G. Bishu is assistant professor

in the School of Public Affairs at the

University of Colorado Denver. She is also

a research fellow in the Women and Public

Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy

School of Government. Her research lies

at the intersection of public management,

personnel management, and social

equity. Broadly, her research is aimed at

examining factors that drive organizational

inequity with the goal of improving public

organizations’ equity performance.

Email: sebawit.bishu@ucdenver.edu

Public Administration Review,

Vol. 80, Iss. 6, pp. 1063–1074. © 2020 by

The American Society for Public Administration.

DOI: 10.1111/puar.13178.

†Additional Affiliation: Research Fellow, Women and Public Policy
Program, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Research
Symposium:
Pursuit of Civil
Rights and Public
Sector Values in
the 21st Century:
Examining
Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr.’s Vision in
the Trump Era

Since the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1960s, equal employment opportunity has aimed to protect women and people of color
from discriminatory practices in the workforce. More
than 50 years later, despite strides made in civil rights,
male dominance persists in the workplace. Today,
women make only 82 cents on the dollar compared
with men, representing a 20 cent improvement
from 1979 (BLS 2018a, 2018b). The sex pay gap is
even worse for women of color: African American
and Hispanic women earn 68 cents and 63 cents,
respectively (BLS 2018a). In the federal government,
women earn 90 cents for every dollar their male
counterparts earn (Hatch Institute 2018). At the
local level, the pay gap is present for women in city
management roles even after accounting for human
capital and organizational factors (Alkadry, Bishu, and
Ali 2019). Similarly, Luo, Schleifer, and Hill (2019)
report that women in policing earn 84 percent of the
salary earned by their male counterparts. We know
much about the gender pay gap, yet we know less

about the lived workplace experiences of women in
male-dominated professions.

Over the last 50 years, progress in gender equity has
been achieved through a series of legislative civil rights
efforts. The twentieth-century antidiscrimination
regulatory framework in the United States was
founded on the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the
Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
This era encompassed legislation responsive to
gender-based work and workplace discrimination,
including preventing sex-based wage discrimination
(Equal Pay Act of 1963), broadcasting work-life
barriers for women (Civil Rights Act of 1964; see
Guy and Fenley 2014), considering “sex” as a class
protected from employment-related discrimination
(Title VII of the Civil Right Act), enforcing the right
to prosecute discrimination (Equal Opportunity
Act of 1972), allowing women administrative leave
options (Family Medical Leave Act of 1993; see U.S.
Department of Labor n.d.), and promoting equal
pay for equal work (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of
2009; see Sorock 2010). Despite the pivotal role of
civil rights legislation in leveling the playing field for

1064 Public Administration Review • November | December 2020

women regarding employment opportunities—namely, access and
pay—not all women have benefited equally. For example, Wide
(1998) and Massie (2016) note that compared with women of color,
white women have benefited more from affirmative action policies
in education and employment. Thus, it is important to acknowledge
that solely focusing on gender, while excluding race, can be a blind
spot for legislation that is meant to level the field for all women.

Nevertheless, legislative actions are intended to ensure that women
engage in work equitably by safeguarding them from discrimination
(Gregory and Milner 2009). Where legislative efforts have fallen
short, administrative flexibility and innovation have allowed
for reconciling work-life conflict—recognizing the interfering
nature of work and life domains that are mutually incompatible.
Organizations use work-life accommodations as formal and
informal administrative remedies to reduce the difficulties of
navigating work and life responsibilities (Greenhaus, Collins, and
Shaw 2003). Administrative policies aimed at work-life balance
and integration emphasize three general priorities: flexibility
with working time arrangements (e.g., alternative schedules and
telecommuting), accommodation for parental and other care
responsibilities (e.g., extended parental paid leave), and direct or
indirect provision of parental care services (e.g., direct provision
or subsidies for child care services as well as lactation policies)
(McDonald, Brown, and Bradley 2005).

While legislative remedies have removed barriers to accessing
equal employment for women, research shows that administrative
remedies are associated with increased employee job commitment
and satisfaction (Gregory and Milner 2009), better employee
health and well-being (McDonald, Brown, and Bradley 2005),
reduced employee absenteeism and turnover (Burke 2004), and
enhanced organizational engagement (Gregory and Milner 2009).
Yet women are still underrepresented in male-dominated professions
and roles, and even when women gain access, their experiences
are gendered. Thus, the purpose of this article is to examine the
gendered organizational arrangements, processes, and interactions
that characterize the lived professional experiences of women in the
twenty-first-century workforce.

In the following sections, we present a definition of equity, discuss
the literature examining gender inequities in work, and lay out
the theory of gendered organizations. We use qualitative interview
data to compare the ways in which gender is made relevant in the
lived professional experiences of nine women city managers and
12 policewomen.1 Our findings indicate that women experience
gendered interactions within and outside of their organizations.
Further, in city management, work-life balance issues directly
impact women’s career choices and/or family planning, whereas
policewomen constantly deal with gendered tasks and assignments.
Overall, our findings exhibit evidence of multiple ways that gender
substructures operate within these two male-dominated professions:
(1) gendered interactions on the job, (2) the gender-neutral status of
the city manager’s job, and (3) the gendered logic of organizational
arrangements.

Our findings highlight that, similar to institutional racism,
gendered processes in public sector workforces are subtle, indirect,
and often unrecognized, yet they operate to reinforce benefits

for and advantages of men (Rivera and Ward 2010). These
gendered experiences that women encounter on a daily basis are
often undetectable by legislative measures and uncorrectable by
administrative remedies. Instead, we find that women’s gendered
experiences are linked to professional norms and organizational
cultures that undermine the roles women play across the two
professions. We conclude that in order to level the playing field for
women in traditionally male-dominated roles, cultural shifts that
recognize the ways in which gender defines formal and informal
interactions, structures, and processes are needed.

Unpacking Gender Inequities in the Workplace
Referencing the National Academy of Public Administration
(NAPA) Standing Panel on Social Equity in Governance definition
Svara and Brune (2005) define social equity as “the fair, just
and equitable management of all institutions serving the public
directly or by contract, and the fair, just and equitable distribution
of public services, and implementation of public policy, and
the commitment to promote fairness, justice, and equity in the
formation of public policy” (p.256). There is a unique tie to social
equity and personnel management as it relates to the historical
issues around affirmative action, discrimination, and equal
employment opportunity. While the formal aspects of human
resources and gender equity have been clearly identified in laws
and policies, it is the informal “behind closed doors” practices,
conversations, and norms that “occur throughout each component
of personnel management” that need to be delineated (Gooden and
Wooldridge 2007, 64).

To date, the research examining gender inequities in the workforce
can be grouped into two broad categories. The first body of
literature focuses on identifying signs of inequities and emphasizes
the role that legislative remedies play to correct discrimination and
inequities in the workplace. Scholars in this group have examined
the presence of the gender pay gap (see Alkadry, Bishu, and Ali
2019), experiences of sexual harassment (see Jackson and Newman
2004), the glass ceiling phenomenon (see Bowling et al. 2006),
circumstances in which women fall out of the system climbing
up organizational ladders (Sabharwal 2015), and gender biases as
drivers of inequity (Foley 2018).

The second body of research examines the under- and
overrepresentation of women in male-dominated positions (e.g.,
positions of authority and decision-making; Dolan 2004) and
professions (e.g., regulatory versus redistributive organizations;
Guy and Newman 2004; Newman 1994; Stivers 2000). Scholars
have argued that scant levels of representation result from
gendered hiring and promotion practices (Bowling et al. 2006),
the demographic composition of organizational leadership (Bagues
and Esteve-Volart 2010), as well as a lack of support for innovative
gender equality strategies (Longoria, Budd, and Manganaro 2017).
Research assessing the barriers that women face in leadership show
that even after position attainment, women may still supervise fewer
subordinates and have less financial responsibility compared with
their male counterparts (Alkadry, Bishu, and Ali 2019).

As a whole, these two bodies of knowledge reveal the formal
manifestations and correlates of women’s inadequate representation
and unfair treatment in the workforce. Nevertheless, these studies

Women Bureaucrats in Male-Dominated Professions 1065

say very little about the informal processes and interactions that
produce, maintain, and reproduce inequitable experiences in public
sector organizations. Both streams of research often make a business
case for gender equity by framing equity as important for economic
reasons—to eliminate barriers to employment and promotion and
to close the pay gap. The business case for equity also encompasses
the case for gender equity as a means to yield better organizational
performance and outcomes (Risse 2019). In this article, we reflect
on gender equity through the lens of “ethical principles of equity,”
which, in and of itself, is a foundational principle of public
administration (Johnson and Svara 2015; Risse 2019; Svara and
Brunet 2005). We use the theory of gendered organizations to
assess the nuances where gender is performed in organizations that
undermine equitable experiences of women in male-dominated roles
in government.

The Theory of Gendered Organizations
The conceptual framework of “gendered organizations” explores the
multiple ways that gender shapes the lived experiences of women
at work (see Acker 1990, 2006; Britton 2000; Connell 2006;
Mastracci and Arreola 2016). Acker (1992, 250) defines gender
in organizations as “patterned, socially produced, distinctions
between female and male, feminine and masculine…it is a daily
accomplishment that occurs in the course of participation in work
organizations as well as in many other locations and relations.” This
theory acknowledges organizations as places where gender is deeply
rooted in the “organizational structure and work life,” creating an
unequal experience and opportunity landscape for men and women
in the workforce (Britton 2000, 419). To identify the creation
and maintenance of gender in organizations, Acker (1990) argues
that it is necessary to look closely at both formal and informal
organizational processes and practices. One way of doing this is to
conduct a gender analysis of organizations. This approach assesses
an organization’s gendered structural arrangements that reproduce
masculine advantages in jobs, tasks, and opportunities.

Organizations are considered gendered when they perform
masculine advantages and allow career, economic, and social
opportunities to be solely within the reach of men (Acker 2006).
Organizations “perform gender” when task allocation, interpersonal
relationships, and on-the-job interactions are distinctly visible along
the gender lines (Hearn and Morgan 1990), as well as when only
men control organizational resources and make decisions (Acker
2006). The four most common ways gender substructures are
embedded in organizations are through gendered organizational
structuring; the creation of symbols, ideas, and values; interactions
between men and women; and modeling of the ideal worker
(Acker 1990).

Gender structuring is a display of gender patterning of jobs in
organizations (Mills and Tancred 1992). In her groundbreaking
work Gender Images in Public Administration, Stivers (1993) argues
that leadership, public values, and power structures in public
organizations are demonstrations of masculine gender performance.
Gender performance is apparent when units and departments in
which women are overrepresented lead to career dead-ends and are
considered less vital to the work of the organization. This produces
persistent distinctions between male and female jobs, hierarchical
ordering that yields overestimation of male tasks and performances

and impacts gender power differentials (Mills and Tancred 1992).
Furthermore, organizational gender structuring yields better
career, economic, and social opportunities to male-dominated
roles compared with roles performed predominantly by women
(Acker 2006). Therefore, gendered arrangements, by design, set job
requirements and task assignments that define who is fit to perform
the duties of the abstract worker.

Gender is impressed in organizations when the symbols and ideal
personas of key roles in organizations are associated with masculine
traits. For example, the “think manager, think male” phenomenon
elucidates that leadership traits perceived as necessary for the job are
associated with masculine traits such as assertiveness, decisiveness,
aggressiveness, efficiency, and competitiveness (Schein 2001). The
creation of images that justify necessary masculine personas for key
organizational roles reproduce perceptions and experiences of role
incongruence for women who perform in male-dominated roles.

Gendered work interactions are displayed among colleagues,
between supervisors and subordinates, and in civilian interactions
during formal work operations as well informal non-work-related
interactions (Acker 1990, 2006; Britton 2000). Job interactions
establish and reinforce the power structure and superiority
among workers. These interactions create social and structural
subordination and stratification of women, making the performance
of counterstereotypical roles by women unwelcome and difficult.

Lastly, gender is rooted in organizations when the employee persona
of the “abstract” or “ideal” worker determines the opportunities
made available to men and women (Acker 1990, 2006; Kanter
1977). The ideal worker is totally committed to the job and not
distracted by competing demands of personal responsibilities.
This flexibility in all job expectations is particularly challenging
for women attempting to balance work and household or child
care responsibilities. Gender inequities are compounded when
professional roles transcend work and life boundaries and when
social role expectations allocate disproportional burden on women.

Research in organizational behavior highlights five distinct ways in
which economic inequality is reproduced in organizations—through
hiring, role allocation, promotion, compensation, and structuring—
while acknowledging the need for more research in each of these
areas (Amis, Mair, and Munir 2019). In the public sector, the
literature has examined hiring, compensation, and promotion much
more than role allocation and structuring (inclusive of norms and
routines). Additionally, there is a lack of micro-level examination
of how gender shapes the individual-level work experiences of
women in male-dominated roles. To this account, the theory of
gendered organizations has been used to understand the ways
gender interacts with organizational subsystems within the private
sector, acknowledging gender as an integral part of work and work
processes (Acker 2006). Within the public sector, Stivers (1993)
reveals masculine advantages in public organizations, and Mastracci
and Arreola (2016) present a theoretical argument for how human
resource management practices produce and reproduce gender
norms that yield male advantages. However, only one study has
empirically analyzed gendered organizational norms and processes
in the public sector, and it was conducted outside the United States.
In this study, Connell (2006) identifies the processes that sustain

1066 Public Administration Review • November | December 2020

gendered divisions of labor, including gendered authority patterns
and organizational polarization.

In this article, we identify how and where gender plays a role in
shaping the daily experiences of women in administrative and street-
level positions in the U.S. public administration context.
We uncover the norms, routines, practices, and interactions that
allow organizational and professional systems to disadvantage
women. We qualitatively assess and highlight the “loosely
interrelated practices, processes, actions and meanings” that make
male-dominated roles inaccessible to women in the public sector
(Acker 2006, 443). Further, akin to Ward and Rivera’s (2014)
definition of institutional racism, we acknowledge the inequitable
gendered practices—often hidden and difficult to define or
operationalize—that are embedded within the organization and
disadvantage or exclude women irrespective of intentions or actors.

City Management and Policing
We assess women’s perceptions of the relevance and risks of
gender in city management and policing. In local governments,
city managers are the face of their organization, responsible for
managing the day-to-day operations of local government and
informing and implementing policies that directly impact the
public (Nelson and Svara 2015; Svara 1999; Wheeland 2000).
Police officers, representing the “public face of local government,”
are responsible for maintaining public order and safety, responding
to calls for service and emergency situations, and preventing and
detecting crime (EEOC 2016, 7).

Both are male-dominated professions in which women make up
approximately 13 percent of city management and 12 percent of
sworn police positions across the United States. Even when women
are represented in these professions, gendered processes frequently
result in women being assigned to feminine roles, tasks, and/
or responsibilities. For instance, women city managers are often
geographically placed in cities with significantly smaller populations
and revenue-overseeing responsibilities (Alkadry, Bishu, and Ali
2019). Policewomen are often assigned to units that deal with
juveniles, domestic violence, sex crimes, and/or community relations
(Harrington 2000; Marshall 2013). Thus, both city management
and policing offer gendered contexts that allow for a comparative
assessment, irrespective of professional differences, to understand
the subtle and pervasive ways gender is ingrained in organizational
processes and performances.

Data and Methods
We are particularly interested in understanding the lived
experiences, perspectives, and interpretations of women in male-
dominated roles. The voices and perspectives of men are either
the default or the overwhelming majority in these professions, and
thus it is important to empirically examine a sample of women.
We use qualitative research methods to provide a rich and detailed
understanding of this complex phenomena and shed light on the
experiences, patterns, processes, and context of these gendered
roles (Creswell and Creswell 2017; Marshall and Rossman
2014; Patton 2002). Qualitative methods can also help close the
academic-practitioner gap, because practitioners’ experiences can
be accounted for and valued during the process (Ospina, Esteve,
and Lee 2018).

Table 1 Characteristics of Qualitative Sample

City Managers
(n = 9)

Percent
Police Officers

(n = 12)
Percent

Race/ethnicity
Black 0 0 1 8.3
White 5 55.5 3 25
Latino 3 33.3 7 58.3
Asian 0 0 1 8.3
Persian 1 11.1 0 0

Age
18–25 0 0 2 16.7
26–30 0 0 0 0
31–35 0 0 1 8.3
36–40 2 22.2 2 16.7
41–45 0 0 3 25
46–50 3 33.3 4 33.3
51–55 4 44.4 0 0

Education
High school graduate 1 11.1 1 8.3
Some college credit 0 0 5 41.7
Bachelor’s degree 0 0 2 16.7
Graduate degree 8 88.9 4 33.3

Tenure in agency1

1–3 years 0 0 3 25
3–6 years 4 44.4 0 0
6–9 years 2 22.2 1 8.3
9–12 years 1 11.1 2 16.7
12–15 years 0 0 2 16.7
15–18 years 0 0 3 25
18–20 years 2 22.2 1 8.3

Notes: Tenure in agency is measured for city managers by years in the city man-
ager position and for police officers by years in the police department.

Data from in-depth semistructured interviews with women city
managers and policewomen from the Southeast and Northeast,
respectively, are used in this study. We conducted a total of 21
in-depth interviews with women in city management (n = 9)
and policing (n = 12). Table 1 presents a full breakdown of the
demographic characteristics of the sample. We use a small-n study to
complement theoretical understandings of gendered inequities that
can be applied to and tested in future work (Watkins-Hayes 2011).
Furthermore, we ensured that saturation was achieved throughout
our interview process (Saunders et al. 2018).

Purposive sampling was used, and all interviewees were recruited
on a voluntary and confidential basis, in response to emails, word
of mouth, and/or references. Both groups of interviews followed a
semistructured protocol, with open-ended questions and probes that
covered a range of topics. For the purposes of this article, we focus
specifically on interviewee responses that hinge on gender dynamics
in their work. This includes, but is not limited to, responses about
unique experiences on the job attributable to gender, the impact of
having more women in the workforce, differences in experiences
between men and women on the job, internal challenges faced by
women, gendered reasons for career choices or trajectory, and/or how
the experiences of women could be improved in their profession.

Interview data were gathered through voice recordings (n = 16) and
by note taking when interviewees declined the recording (n = 5),
both of which resulted in written transcriptions. Interviews were
primarily conducted face-to-face during the summers of 2016 and
2017. Interviews lasted approximately 60 minutes on average,
ranging from 45 to 130 minutes.

Women Bureaucrats in Male-Dominated Professions 1067

To analyze the qualitative data, we used an iterative and multistep
process operating in both deductive and inductive approaches.
In light of the goal of this study—to understand the interpretive
experiences of women in male-dominated roles—we took the
sentiments, perceptions, and stories shared at face value. After
reading transcripts in their entirety, we coded them line by line
by applying open coding that emerged from the text as well as
a priori codes developed from the research questions and the
literature. Then, we segmented the codes into similar groupings
to form preliminary categorizations and identify relationships
and connections (Corbin and Strauss 1990). Lastly, we employed
thematic analysis to identify and assess larger patterns across
the data, which were recognized as themes that provide detailed
descriptions of the data (Braun and Clarke 2006).

Findings
Participants expressed a range of views regarding the relevance of
gender as it pertained to their work, perceptions, and advancement
in local government. In both contexts, several women explicitly
acknowledged their respective professions as “male-dominated” or
the “good old boys’ club.” Using Acker’s (2001) theory of gendered
organizations, we organized our findings around the three key
themes: gendered interactions, gendered work-life imbalances, and
gendered tasks and promotion.

Both city managers and policewomen emphasized the gendered
interactions that occur on the job. However, women city managers,
more often than police, underscored work-family demands and the
need for balancing—highlighting the limitations of the abstract or
ideal worker—whereas policewomen touched on gendered tasks and
assignments relatively more often. Thus, while gendered processes,
practices, and patterns were exhibited in both groups, the expression
of such processes was different. We argue that these divergences are
due to distinctions across the hierarchy and job responsibilities
(e.g., city managers as leadership and police officers as primarily
street-level positions).

In the next sections, we delve into the diverse and nuanced ways in
which (and the locations where) gender becomes relevant, starting
with the commonalities across professions (i.e., the gendered
interactions), then addressing differences (i.e., city managers and
work-life balance, then police and gendered tasks and assignments).

Gendered Interactions and the Invisible, Psychological Burden
of Women’s Work
Interviewees highlighted the ways in which on-the-job interactions
become gendered in the course of daily work responsibilities (see
additional quotes in table 2). Gendered interactions can be either
internal (with superiors, coworkers, or subordinates) or external

Table 2 Representative Quotations: Gendered Interactions and the Invisible Burden of Women in City Management and Policing

Theme Quotes

Feeling incapable and unseen by colleagues
(n = 12)

“I think women still need to prove themselves. I do no not think they are taken as serious as their male counterparts
would [be]. And that is just based on general and maybe working with business members and it might be working
with other governments, it might be working with residents…I still think there is still perceptions of women in
authority, it is not always accepted.” —City manager

“[Inside the police department it’s] we cannot do the job as good or we are not capable or, you know, just stuff like
that.” —Police

“A ton of challenges. It is a male-dominated field to this day. There are officers […] that still do not talk to me, say hi or
good morning. It is because I am a female. For women they are already finding flaws with them in the academy, from
day one. They are quick to see faults in a woman before she even starts officially whether it is because they think she
cannot take care of herself or because she gets pregnant or gets a different assignment then people start talking and
saying what did she do to get that assignment?” —Police

Proving oneself on the job (n = 12) “I think women have to prove themselves more than the men do and [then…] they tend to get categorized more
commonly as being forceful which would be a common phrase […] It happens that when I meet somebody new in
a high position I have to fight to prove my point but eventually that trust comes after several meetings of several
discussions they get it, that I was 100% right.” —City manager

“Sometimes with even with your coworkers you—it’s a sense of you kinda have to prove yourself. […] you get the
comments of [which woman] is worth giving a shot, who’s a mess, who’s not. And then, it takes a few things or a
lot of either calls or interactions for them [men] to, ‘Oh, you know what? She’s not that bad.’ Like, they have to see
something first before they are comfortable around you. So, I think I see that as a challenge for any of the new girls
coming up. So, sort of approval kind of thing.” —Police

Gendered interactions with city managers
and elected officials (n = 4)

“And I know the difference of how elected officials react to those two gentlemen who were much older. I call them
fondly and nicely the “good old boys club” versus how they react to me.” —City manager

“I do believe that we do continue to have composition in our elected capacities that I think defaults to men. Not
necessarily white men, but I think tends still default to men because of the age demographics and the way they in
which they will hire people who look like them. So I do not think it is comfortable for many of our elected bodies to
choose women” —City manager

Gendered interactions with police and
citizens (n = 11)

“No, there’s always differences. Whether it be a female or with a male, like I’ve said before, somebody would rather just
to talk to a female officer rather than the male officer. I’ve res

draft

158 Public Administration Review • March/April 2005, Vol. 65, No. 2

Judith R. Saidel
Karyn Loscocco
University at Albany, State University of New York

Agency Leaders, Gendered Institutions, and
Representative Bureaucracy

This study examines three central questions: Do women state agency heads establish priorities that
advance women’s interests more frequently than men agency heads? Among state agency heads
with women-related top priorities, are there systematic differences between women and men in the
influences on their priority choices? Do the organizational and political contexts in which agency
leaders work explain variation in policy priorities? Analysis of data from a national survey of
women and men department heads reveals that working in a redistributive agency affects whether
a leader pursues a women-centered policy agenda, regardless of the leader’s gender, other per-
sonal characteristics, or reported influences on priority choice. The authors conclude that the way
representative bureaucracy actually plays out can be more fully understood if the tenets of social
science theory on gendered institutions are incorporated into analyses of how representative bu-
reaucracy works.

Scholars have wrestled with the theoretical complexi-
ties of representative bureaucracy for decades. In the last
35 years, a number of public administration and political
science researchers in the United States have invested sig-
nificant effort in this enterprise (Mosher 1968; Krislov
1974; Meier and Nigro 1976; Thompson 1976; Rosen-
bloom and Featherstonhaugh 1977; Saltzstein 1979; Reh-
fuss 1986; Meier 1993; Riccucci and Saidel 1997).

One reason for the sustained interest in representative
bureaucracy is that this notion is fundamental to prevail-
ing ideas about how bureaucracy fits into a democratic
polity (Kelly 1998; Naff and Crum 2000). Hale and Kelly
articulate the core idea clearly: “[There is] widespread ac-
ceptance of the notions that in a democracy public bureau-
cracies ought to be representative in meaningful ways of
the citizen-clients they serve, and that representation based
on demographic characteristics can lead to meaningful rep-
resentation” (1989, 9). Representative bureaucracy has
become a “powerful symbol” (Meier and Nigro 1976, 467)
of equal access, opportunity, and the inclusion of group
interests in administrative decision making, despite some
findings that challenge the central ideas of the construct
(Meier and Nigro 1976; Rehfuss 1986).

A second reason for continuing research on representa-
tive bureaucracy is the construct’s rich theoretical and nor-

mative content, which invites reexamination by investiga-
tors with widely varying research interests. Like a com-
pelling book or a work of art to which one returns again
and again, the multidimensional set of ideas embedded in
representative bureaucracy provokes continuous reengage-
ment by researchers with new combinations of questions
and approaches.

The study we describe here emerges from our interest
in the intersection of gender, institutions, and represen-
tative bureaucracy. Following Rosenthal (1997) and
Kenney (1996), who exhort researchers to draw on inter-
disciplinary scholarship in studies of political institutions,
we draw on the research of sociologists, organizational
theorists, and political scientists to inform our inquiry
(Acker 1990; Martin 1992; Calas and Smircich 1992;

Judith R. Saidel is executive director of the Center for Women in Govern-
ment and Civil Society and an associate professor of public administration
and policy at the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her
research interests include the demographics of executive branch leadership
and representative bureaucracy, government and nonprofit sector relation-
ships, and nonprofit governance. E-mail: Saidel@albany.edu.

Karyn Loscocco is an associate professor of sociology at the University at
Albany, State University of New York. She is interested in how gender struc-
tures social life. Much of her previous research focuses on how gender colors
the meanings that people attach to paid work and the fit between work and
family lives. She recently completed a study of women and men small busi-
ness owners. E-mail: KAL74@albany.edu.

Agency Leaders, Gendered Institutions, and Representative Bureaucracy 159

Lorber 1994; Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Kenney 1996;
Rosenthal 1997).

Introduction
Scholarship on gender and institutions prompts us to

analyze gender not only as an individual variable, as tradi-
tional research on representative bureaucracy has done, but
also as an organizing principle of social institutions (Acker
1990; Lorber 1994). In fact, Glenn (1999) suggests the
feminist emphasis on gender as a social construction leads
us away from considering gender as solely—or even
mostly—an individual attribute. Gender is embedded in
jobs, departments, divisions, and organizational activity
(Martin 1992). Thus, gender may be important to repre-
sentative bureaucracy because it shapes the social and cul-
tural contexts in which people do their work. Recent rep-
resentative bureaucracy studies have incorporated such
insights, leading to new theoretical emphases. For instance,
Keiser et al. build a “neoinstitutional theory of representa-
tive bureaucracy and gender” (2002, 557) that specifies
links among gender, the institutional contexts in which
bureaucrats function, and organizational outputs. They ar-
gue that attention to gendered institutional contexts enables
researchers to go beyond the question of whether gender
as an ascribed characteristic matters in bureaucracies, to a
deeper inquiry about the circumstances under which bu-
reaucrats with certain demographic characteristics are more
likely to act in ways that advance the interests of individu-
als with the same characteristics. Kelly and Newman’s find-
ings (2001), which support a similar conclusion, will be
examined in greater detail in this article.

We begin our inquiry within a traditional framework
that includes gender as an individual attribute, focused on
the priorities of women and men department heads1 ap-
pointed by governors in the 50 states, and ask whether gen-
der, as a demographic characteristic of agency leaders,
explains variation in their policy priorities. Specifically,
we ask, do women state agency heads establish priorities
that could advance women’s interests more frequently than
men agency heads? Second, among state agency heads with
women-related top priorities, are there systematic differ-
ences between women and men in the influences on prior-
ity choice?

As a preview to the extended analysis that follows, we
offer this brief summary of our preliminary findings:
Whereas 50 percent of women department heads indicated
that one or more of the policy priorities at the top of their
agendas was intended to help women, only 35 percent of
men department heads did so (p < .05). At the same time,
the strongest influence on priority choice for both women
and men was identical—their own personal values, beliefs,
and experiences.

Next, we extend the inquiry to the contexts of agency
leader agenda setting and ask, do the organizational and
political contexts in which agency leaders work explain
variation in their policy priorities? We focus particularly
on the state political culture, the political party of the ap-
pointing governor, and agency type. Our finding? Work-
ing in a redistributive agency affects whether a leader pur-
sues a women-centered policy agenda, no matter what the
leader’s gender, other personal characteristics, or reported
influences. We conclude that the ways in which represen-
tative bureaucracy actually plays out can be more fully
understood if important tenets from recent social science
theory on gendered institutions are incorporated into analy-
ses of how representative bureaucracy works.

The article begins with an overview of selected studies,
after which we explain the conceptual framework that struc-
tures the study. In the research methodology section, we
describe an exploratory pilot study conducted through on-
site interviews in eight states, as well as a subsequent na-
tional survey of all women department heads and a strati-
fied matched sample of men department heads. The
findings section presents our analysis of data on policy
priorities, environmental influences on agenda setting, and
the effects of contextual variables. The discussion and con-
clusion draw out the implications of the findings, espe-
cially with respect to representative bureaucracy, the link
between representation and responsiveness, and the im-
portance of institutional contexts characterized by gendered
structures and processes. We end with suggestions for key
issues in need of additional research attention.

Overview of Selected Studies
Historically, representative bureaucracy researchers

have limited their attention to career bureaucrats, at least
partly because of their interest in influences that might
mitigate the rigidities of organizations in the hands of
Weberian “cogs” in bureaucratic machines.2 Numerous
studies have focused on “street-level bureaucrats” (Lipsky
1980), who often exercise significant discretion at the point
of direct service delivery. Other studies examine the rep-
resentativeness of mid-level managers and supervisors in
public agencies.3

We argue here that, given the positional power of those
at the head of complex or smaller but still hierarchically
structured public agencies, it is especially important that
appointed leaders be part of a representativeness calculus.
Although it is certainly true that political appointees func-
tion within a very different set of dynamics, which .
Aberbach and Rockman (2000) describe as a “web of poli-
tics,” that web nonetheless includes the competing pres-
sures of bureaucratic processes. In an examination of the
meanings of representative bureaucracy, Aberbach and

160 Public Administration Review • March/April 2005, Vol. 65, No. 2

Rockman challenge the accuracy of conclusions about the
relative representativeness of different bureaucracies that
do not take into account top-level decision makers:

In short, the most representative bureaucracies in
the modern world—representative when one looks
at a profile of all their employees—have a very dif-
ferent appearance at the top. One can debate the
relative impact of this difference, but at a minimum
it does cast a pall over notions underlying ideas
about the genuine representativeness of what may
appear on the surface to be a fairly representative
bureaucracy. (50)

Thus, the representative-bureaucracy construct should not
be limited only to those within the bureaucratic arena by
virtue of their career civil service status (Dometrius 1986;
Riccucci and Saidel 1997). Explanations of both the sub-
stantive and symbolic importance of representativeness do
not lose meaning when applied to individuals working as
chief executives of state government agencies. In fact, in
the current climate of devolved responsibility for major re-
source allocation and programmatic decisions, the repre-
sentativeness of those at the top of public bureaucracies at
the state government level assumes even more importance.

The differing impact of women and men political and
managerial leaders on outcomes that could benefit women
has been the subject of important research for many years
(Carroll 1985, 1994; Hale and Kelly 1989; Saint-Germain
1989; Dodson and Carroll 1991; Tolleson-Rinehart 1991;
Duerst-Lahti and Johnson 1992; Stivers 1993; Thomas
1994; Tamerius 1995). Dodson and Carroll’s (1991) study
of the top priorities of women and men state legislators is
especially relevant to our research questions because of its
focus on individual agenda setting. They found the top leg-
islative agenda items of women state lawmakers focused
on women’s rights issues more frequently than did the pri-
orities of men legislators. A large gender gap also existed
with respect to the bills that each group of officials had
worked on during the current legislative session.

A similar study by Saint-Germain (1989) focused on
the initiation of policy proposals, a step in the policy pro-
cess that is very close to priority setting. In a longitudinal
study of bills in the Arizona state legislature between 1969
and 1986, Saint-Germain found that women legislators
were more likely than men to initiate bills on issues that
are traditionally associated with women’s concerns and
promoting women’s equality. Reviewing the literature sev-
eral years later, Carroll concludes, “Clearly, one of the most
striking ways in which women officeholders make a dif-
ference is through the attention they devote to women’s
rights issues” (1994, 14).

By applying questions about systematic differences in
policy priorities by gender to the leadership cohort of ap-

pointed state government department heads, we grapple
again with the notion of active representative bureaucracy.
Passive representative bureaucracy is the condition of con-
gruence between the demographic characteristics of the bu-
reaucracy and the general population and, therefore, the pre-
sumed congruence between bureaucratic decisions and the
policy preferences of the general population. Active repre-
sentative bureaucracy suggests that government officials will
act in ways that benefit those in the general public who
share their gender or race group membership. Conventional
wisdom and the research literature hold that, in general,
political appointees bow to the priorities and values of the
chief executive whom they serve. In a classic study of ex-
ecutive branch politics, Heclo (1977) included evidence of
the loyalties of political appointees to the elective official
who appointed them.4 Interestingly, he also identified “di-
rection-setting,” a term that overlaps with our study’s pri-
ority-setting focus, as a central definitional element of po-
litical leadership. Also writing about the federal level of
government, Kingdon observed, “The appointee finds it
prudent to bend with the presidential wind…” (1995, 29).

Past research suggests there are other important influ-
ences on priority setting, including work socialization (Meier
and Nigro 1976; Rehfuss 1986), personal values and expe-
riences (Riccucci 1995), values and experiences rooted in
professional training (Mosher 1982; Hebert and Wright
1982; Keiser et al. 2002), ties with outside interest groups
(Carroll 1992), and other external pressures. Each of these
influences, as well as loyalty to the chief executive, could
either reinforce or mitigate active representative bureaucracy,
in the sense that dominant agenda-setting influences could
push the agency leader toward or away from priorities that
favor groups with characteristics like his or her own.5

The research literature also provides valuable clues about
contextual variables that might explain variation in the
agenda-setting priorities of agency heads. Measures of dif-
ference in state political cultures have figured in empirical
investigations for many decades and have been reported as
important predictors of variation in a range of outcomes
(Elazar 1972, 1984; Erickson, Wright, and McIver 1993).
Another traditional political measure of difference in policy
choices is political party.

The third contextual variable in the multivariate phase
of our study, agency type, derives from more recent re-
search on gender and organizations. A discussion of key
insights, relevant to the questions examined here, from pio-
neering work on gendered institutions is included in the
“Expanded Conceptual Framework” section.

Conceptual Framework
Saltzstein’s theoretical model (figure 1) of the “mecha-

nisms of responsiveness” (1979, 466) guided the initial

Agency Leaders, Gendered Institutions, and Representative Bureaucracy 161

phase of our study.6 She integrates earlier studies and pos-
its consecutive links between ascribed characteristics and
values, values and behavior, and behavior and policy.

sion makers. For instance, Rehfuss argues, “the most im-
portant decisions are made or influenced at top levels”
(1986, 454). In a classic study of agenda setting and alter-
native selection at the federal level, Kingdon (1995) finds
that political appointees are part of the “visible cluster”
that dominates the agenda-setting process. “Even when the
political appointees do not originate an idea,” he reports,
“they still play a large part in placing it on the agendas of
important people, both within and outside of their agen-
cies” (28). Writing about both political appointees and top-
career executives, Aberbach and Rockman maintain, “Fi-
nally, when looking at the representational qualities of a
bureaucracy, it is important to distinguish the entire orga-
nization from those at the top who have the major influ-
ence over how policy is interpreted and implemented”
(2000, 49). Along with their emphasis on positional power,
Aberbach and Rockman contend that, with respect to ca-
reer bureaucrats, “demographic or social class representa-
tiveness is apparently a weak reed on which to hang hopes
for a truly representative bureaucracy” (49).

While recognizing that players at all levels in public
agencies may have an impact on policy outcomes, we ac-
knowledge the dominant influence of positional leaders in
hierarchically structured public agencies and, in the pre-
liminary phase of this study, examine policy prioritizing
by top-ranking gubernatorial political appointees. Because
top decision makers likely face the fewest constraints, they
are apt to show the closest correspondence among values,
behavior, and policy outcomes. Thus, it is an important
place to tackle the question of whether gender matters.

Expanded Conceptual Framework
In the expanded conceptual framework that guided the

second phase of our study, we incorporate insights from
social science theory on gendered institutions (figure 2).

By placing Saltzstein’s hypothesized links between as-
cribed characteristics and policy within the context of

Figure 1 Saltzstein’s (1979) Mechanisms of
Responsiveness

Ascribed characteristics → values → behavior → policy

Figure 2 Institutional Context and Representative
Bureaucracy

Ascribed characteristics—values
→ behavior → policy

G
en

de
red

Institutional Context

Reinforcing the warnings of researchers such as Thomp-
son (1976), Rehfuss (1986), Meier (1993), however,
Saltzstein argues that each link is fraught with method-
ological peril for those who attempt to operationalize parts
or all of the model. Clearly, this is a heuristic device for
disentangling the complex relationships that underpin rep-
resentative bureaucracy theory. We recognize there are other
variables that influence the links between each component
of Saltzstein’s model.

The preliminary focus of our study is the link between
an ascribed characteristic—gender—of executive branch
state agency leaders and their top policy priorities. We use
a department head’s self-identified priorities as a proxy
for both the “values” and “behavior” elements of
Saltzstein’s model. Findings reported later in the article
substantiate the appropriateness of this proxy measure for
values. For the people in our sample, there appears to be a
close correspondence between values and behavior, per-
haps because we are studying decision makers with some
positional power at the top of their organizations. When
we asked respondents how closely their policy work
matches their preferred agenda, we found a high match
between actual work and preferred agendas for almost
three-quarters of the respondents. From the perspective of
active representative bureaucracy, the particular agenda
priorities we are most interested in are those that could
benefit women inside and outside the agency.

As predicted by earlier representative bureaucracy re-
searchers, a number of conceptual and methodological
problems are immediately apparent. One of our major con-
cerns is what we describe as the single-actor problem. Some
authors have warned against overstating the influence of
individuals in governmental bureaucracies on policy out-
comes (Saltzstein 1979; Meier and Stewart 1992; Meier
1993; Moore 1995).7 We avoid this problem by focusing
on the link between the individual at the top of a hierarchi-
cally structured bureaucracy and that individual’s self-iden-
tified policy priorities. We do not attempt to operationalize
the complicated link between a department head’s policy
priorities and formal agency policy. We think it is reason-
able to assume that enacted agency policy is related to the
agency chief executive’s priorities, but examination of this
link is beyond the scope of this analysis.

A number of studies make the strong case that analyses
of representative bureaucracy should target top-level deci-

162 Public Administration Review • March/April 2005, Vol. 65, No. 2

gendered institutions, we intend to suggest that studies of
the way representative bureaucracy works or does not work
must take into account the gendered nature of political in-
stitutions such as the state agencies our respondents di-
rect. We replace the arrow between ascribed characteris-
tics and values with a dotted line to indicate the link between
gender and values may be modified by the context in which
women and men are working.

During the last two decades, sociologists and organiza-
tional theorists have built a considerable body of literature
about gendered institutions. According to Acker, a key theo-
rist of this new paradigm, “The term ‘gendered institutions’
means that gender is present in the processes, practices,
images and ideologies, and distributions of power in the
various sectors of social life” (quoted in Kenney 1996, 446).

Insights that both foreshadow and contribute to the con-
struct of gendered institutions are represented in classic
and more recent studies of representative bureaucracy.
Meier and Nigro (1976) found that agency affiliation had
a stronger impact on attitudes than gender. Keiser et al.
(2002) make the important point that institutions in which
gender is embedded influence the context in which indi-
viduals make decisions and act on those decisions. Based
on a public education study that finds significant links be-
tween institutional features and girls’ math scores, they
argue that the compelling research task is “interpreting data
in light of the larger institutional features that shape the
circumstances in which bureaucrats exercise discretion and
act to affect policy outcomes” (2002, 554).

Kelly and Newman (2001) also focus on institutional
context and report that agency type is an institutional struc-
ture in state government where gender is clearly manifested.
Utilizing Lowi’s (1985) categorization of agencies as dis-
tributive, redistributive, or regulatory,8 they examine data
across agencies in Alabama, Arizona, and Florida on em-
ployment patterns, pay inequalities, and sexual harassment.
In each case, patterns of difference based on gender occur
across agency types. For instance, the authors examine the
proportions of women and men employed in the three kinds
of agencies. Women and men held about an equal propor-
tion of middle- and upper-level positions in regulatory agen-
cies; in distributive agencies women held a substantially
smaller proportion of such posts; and in redistributive agen-
cies, the proportion of women was substantially higher than
in either regulatory or distributive departments.

In addition to the analysis of employment patterns, Kelly
and Newman’s examination of pay inequalities at the up-
per levels of administration and women’s experience of
sexual harassment in the three agency types leads them to
conclude that “state bureaucracies are heavily gendered
and … the policy type of the agency is an important factor
in the gendering” (2001, 17–19). Based on evidence of
variation in patterns of active representation of women

across agency type, the proposition they articulate is sup-
ported: “Given the gendered nature of state bureaucracies
across policy type, it is highly likely that more active rep-
resentation of women will occur in redistributive than in
either distributive or regulatory agencies” (20).

These studies recognize that passive and active repre-
sentation are more likely to be linked when the context in
which policy decisions are made supports that link. Un-
derscoring this point, Meier (1993) suggests that organi-
zations may make it difficult for policy makers to engage
in active representation because of institutional policies or
priorities that constrain identification with a group that
shares one’s demographic characteristics. One pertinent
study from the political science literature found that in some
states, women legislators formed caucuses and constructed
policy agendas focused on women’s interests. However, in
other states women were so divided they did not form or-
ganizational structures to facilitate joint work on agenda
setting (Mueller 1984).

Building on the important research cited previously, the
second phase of our study examines the context in which
agency leaders set policy priorities. We recognize that gen-
der may be embedded in the organizational contexts in
which policy priorities are decided. We also acknowledge
there may be constraints on the ability of agency leaders in
state government to pursue an identity-based agenda, such
as the appointing governor’s priorities or the prevailing
political ideology of the governor’s party.

Data and Methods
Exploratory Pilot Study

To lay the groundwork for a national survey of state
agency leaders, we conducted a qualitative pilot study to
explore whether and under what influences agency lead-
ers promote internal and external policies that are benefi-
cial to women’s interests.9 We drew primarily on the lit-
erature on representative bureaucracy and women and
politics to identify independent variables and to formulate
hypotheses. Independent variables, to be described later,
were at the individual, organizational, and contextual lev-
els of analysis.

Between the spring and fall 1998, we pre-tested a
semistructured interview protocol and then conducted in-
depth, on-site interviews with a total of 24 women agency
heads, including nine women of color, and 10 men agency
executives in eight states.10 States were selected based on
region, the presence of women in executive positions, the
functional type of agency headed by women, the party of
the governor, and political culture as measured by a com-
posite index of state policies on a number of issues
(Erickson, Wright, and McIver 1993). States in the study
included California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana,

Agency Leaders, Gendered Institutions, and Representative Bureaucracy 163

Maryland, New York, and Vermont.11

Computer-assisted analysis of the 34 interviews from
the pilot study yielded a richly textured picture of compet-
ing pressures balanced by agency executives who run com-
plex public bureaucracies around the country. The
semistructured interview format gave respondents the
chance to raise issues or suggest connections we had not
anticipated. In addition, it uncovered the language and ways
of thinking of the pilot-study interviewees, enabling us to
build into the subsequent survey instrument the full range
of choices relevant to respondents. In the spring of 2000,
four former executive bureaucratic leaders who had recently
moved to new career positions pre-tested the survey proto-
col and made valuable suggestions about ways to clarify
particular questions. These recommendations were subse-
quently incorporated into the survey.

National Survey
In June, we mailed surveys to all women department

heads in the country, to all men who head civil and human
rights agencies, and to the same number of men and women
who lead labor, human resources, health, and public wel-
fare, and employment security agencies. These are the func-
tional areas where women are most likely to head agen-
cies. To complete the sample pool, we mailed surveys to a
random sample of men, equal to the total number of women
in agencies other than those specified previously. We used
a stratified matched methodology for agency type to con-
trol for gender bias in the distribution of women and men
policy leaders across government functions (Saidel 1998).

To maximize the response rate, we followed up with a
postcard to all nonrespondents about three weeks after the
first mailing. In early August, another letter with a second
survey enclosed was sent to all nonrespondents. In mid-
September we contacted by telephone all women nonre-
spondents and a random sample of men who had not re-
sponded. These strategies yielded 215 usable surveys (129
returned by women, 86 returned by men) for a response
rate of 42 percent for women and 28 percent for men.12 In
1999, 25.8 percent of the total number of department heads
(n = 1,244) in the 50 states were women and 74.1 percent
were men (Saidel 1999). Although women held about one-
quarter of all agency head positions in 1999, they consti-
tute two-thirds of our sample. In the multivariate results
section, we explain how we corrected for the skewed pool
of respondents in data analysis.

Variables
Based on analysis of the pilot interview data, we identi-

fied 10 major influences on agenda setting among agency
leaders. The appendix lists the 10 individual, organizational,
and environmental influences. Individual-level variables
may apply to the department head or to the governor who

appointed the executive; organizational-level variables
apply to the executive’s agency; and environmental-level
variables relate to sources of external pressure, including
the legislature, interest groups, media, and statutory or regu-
latory requirements.

In the survey, we first asked department heads the fol-
lowing question: “Briefly describe one of your major policy
priorities. Please provide a specific rather than a general
priority.” We then asked respondents to indicate on a scale
of 1 to 5 (1 = not at all important, 3 = somewhat important,
and 5 = very important) the importance of 10 different in-
fluences on the choice of the policy listed. The next ques-
tion asked agency heads which influence had the strongest
effect on his or her choice of policy priority. This sequence
of questions was repeated for three different priorities, fol-
lowed by the questions, “Among the priorities listed above,
is one or more specifically intended to help white women
or women and men of color? If yes, which one(s)?”

Consistent with the cautionary note of Meier (1993) and
others about the difficulty of achieving conceptual preci-
sion in empirical research on representative bureaucracy,
we note some intended ambiguity in our model’s specifi-
cation. We operationalized our dependent variable—policy
priorities that could benefit women—in the phrase “spe-
cifically intended to help white women or women and men
of color.” Some priorities might benefit women of color
(and men) but would not appear to benefit all women.
However, we felt that respondents, especially women of
color, should not have to make an artificial distinction be-
tween gender-related and race- or ethnicity-related choices
(Crenshaw 1993). It is entirely reasonable for women of
color to identify policies that benefit people of color and
to view those as women-related policies. Still, a conse-
quence of this wording is that some priorities reported by
respondents may reflect an intention to benefit people of
color in general more than women in particular.

With respect to the model’s independent variables—in-
fluences on priority choices—it is likely that, because of
appointment screening processes, most appointees’ per-
sonal values overlap with the governor’s values and policy
preferences. As a result, the distinction between the strength
of influence of these two independent variables may be
difficult to determine. Similarly, it is possible

DRAFT

  

Directions: Complete Step 1 by writing 2-3 paragraphs in the space below comparing the nursing specialty (PSYCHIATRY AND FAMILY/ INTERNAL MEDICINE) you have selected – or the one you prefer if your choice is still under consideration – to your second preference. Identify each specialty and describe the focus and the role that graduates are prepared for. Identify any other differentiators you feel are significant, especially those that helped or may help you reach a decision.

·  

· Complete Step 2 by writing a paragraph identifying and justifying your reasons for choosing your MSN specialization (PSYCHIATRY). Be sure to incorporate any feedback you received from colleagues in this week’s Discussion Forum.

·  

· Complete Step 3 by examining and identifying one professional organization related to your selected or preferred specialty. Explain how you can become a member of this organization.

·  

·  

Step 1: Comparison of Nursing Specialties

Use the space below to write 2-3 paragraphs comparing the nursing specialty you have selected – or the one you prefer if your choice is still under consideration – to your second preference. Identify each specialty and describe the focus and the role that graduates are prepared for. Identify any other differentiators you feel are significant, especially those that helped or may help you reach a decision.

SPECIALTIES ARE: PSYCHIATRY AND FAMILY/ INTERNAL MEDICINE

Step 2: Justification of Nursing Specialty

Use the space below to write a paragraph identifying and justifying your reasons for choosing your MSN specialization (PSYCHIATRY). Be sure to incorporate any feedback you received from colleagues in this week’s Discussion Forum.

Step 3: Professional Organizations

Use the space below to identify and examine one professional organization related to your selected or preferred specialty. Explain how you can become a member of this organization.

draft

Vol.:(0123456789)1 3

Journal of Business Ethics (2020) 167:775–791
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04158-z

O R I G I N A L PA P E R

Do LGBT Workplace Diversity Policies Create Value for Firms?

Mohammed Hossain1,2 · Muhammad Atif3 · Ammad Ahmed4 · Lokman Mia1

Received: 27 June 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2019 / Published online: 25 April 2019
© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Abstract
We show that the U.S. anti-discriminatory laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation
and gender identity (i.e. lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) identities) spur innovation, which ultimately leads
to higher firm performance. We use the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) of 398 (1592 firm-
year observations) U.S. firms between 2011 and 2014, and find a significantly positive relationship between CEI and firm
innovation. We also find that an interacting effect of CEI and firm innovation leads to higher firm performance. We use
our understanding of Rawls’ Theory of Justice and stakeholder theory to show that firms with workplace diversity policies
are likely to be more innovative and perform better than those without such policies. Our results are robust to endogeneity,
reverse causality and simultaneity issues. Our results will trigger debate in similar markets around the globe on the economic
benefits of LGBT workplace diversity policies for firms.

Keywords Workplace diversity · LGBT · Innovation · Firm performance

Introduction

Support for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender—
hereafter LGBT) rights has increased substantially over the
last two decades in Australia, UK, USA, and other European
countries (Lloren and Parini 2017; Pichler et al. 2018). Con-
sequently, corporate equality initiatives, and more specifi-
cally, employee equality initiatives are becoming an integral
part of firms’ diversity management. These initiatives sig-
nal an open and tolerant workplace environment in which
employees are not discriminated against on the basis of their

sexual orientation or gender identity.1 Liddle et al. (2004)
emphasize that workplace environment plays a key role in
employee recruitment, productivity, stress and commitment.
It is estimated that approximately eight million people, or
3.5% of the U.S population, identify as LGBT (Gates 2011,
2012) and 30 states have no laws protecting the employment
rights of LGBT individuals (Webster et al. 2018). Research
has shown that individuals who identify as LGBT face dis-
crimination, hostility and negative attitudes (homophobia
and transphobia) in the workplace, which negatively affects
their performance on the job in terms of higher absenteeism
and lower productivity (Bonaventura and Biondo 2016).

To improve the workplace environment, in 2017, the
U.N. High Commissioner for human rights released new
standards of conduct to eliminate discrimination against
LGBT employees in the workplace.2 These anti-discrimi-
natory policies have both societal and economic benefits.
For example, formal acceptance of LGBT employees in the
workplace makes them feel less anxious, less threatened, and
more comfortable (Liddle et al. 2004). In terms of economic

* Mohammed Hossain
mohammed.hossain@griffith.edu.au; mhossain@su.edu.om

Muhammad Atif
m.atif@essex.ac.uk

Ammad Ahmed
ammad.ahmed@zu.ac.ae

Lokman Mia
l.mia@griffith.edu.au

1 Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith
Business School, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia

2 Faculty of Business, Sohar University, Sohar, Oman
3 Essex Business School, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
4 College of Business, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi,

United Arab Emirates

1 The extant literature from various fields, including history, soci-
ology, and psychology, concurs that discrimination against LGBT
groups exists because of both sexual orientation and gender identity
(e.g. Badgett 1995; Drydakis 2009; King and Cortina 2010; Ozeren
2014; Bonaventura and Biondo 2016).
2 These standards include respect, elimination and prevention of dis-
crimination, support, and taking a stand for LGBT individuals.

776 M. Hossain et al.

1 3

benefits, in Australia, it has been estimated that acceptance
of secluded workers in different workplaces could lead to
as much as $285 million in savings per year nationally, an
increase of 11% in staff retention and an increase of 30% in
productivity (Johnson and Cooper 2015). At the organiza-
tional level, acceptance of LGBT groups increases the pool
of talent from which organizations may draw strategic ben-
efits, and such inclusion leads to an increase in diversity in
different positions and professional teams within the organi-
zation (Barbulescu and Bidwell 2013). However, although
promoters of LGBT-supportive policies argue that these
enhance the talent pool and improve firm-level diversity,
very little attention has been paid to whether these policies
create value for firms.

To recognize the economic effects of LGBT workplace
policies, this paper focuses on the effect of LGBT workplace
policies3 in value creation for firms. A growing number of
studies have focused on the social imperative of workplace
policies, i.e. discrimination and LGBT workplace policies
(Ragins and Cornwell 2001; Priola et al. 2014), diversity and
LGBT workplace policies (Ozturk and Tatli 2016), stigma
in the workplace and LGBT workplace policies (Ragins
2008), and politics and LGBT workplace policies (Gupta
et al. 2017; Rhodes 2017). However, only a limited num-
ber of studies have focused on the economic imperative of
workplace policies, i.e. firm performance and LGBT work-
place policies (Shan et al. 2017; Pichler et al. 2017, 2018).
In this paper, we seek to investigate the impact of LGBT
workplace policies on firms’ innovation, and ultimately on
firm performance.

We use Rawls’ Theory of Justice (1971) to explain ethical
corporate behaviour, social responsibility, societal fairness
and equality (Chapman 1975). This theory points to fairness
as a social good and suggests that institutions (in this case,
firms) have a responsibility and an opportunity to demon-
strate how to treat others (in this case, employees) fairly.
The theory further specifies that fairness should not be con-
tingent upon socio-demographical characteristics. Instead,
fairness at the workplace should be rooted within a work-
ers’ meritocracy. Prior literature that has confirmed Rawls’
(1971) concept of fairness and its value to organizational
outcomes is limited to some specific socio-demographical
factors, i.e. race and religion (Beckley 1986; Cohen 2010).
To date, no research on Rawls’ (1971) contribution is
extended specifically to the fairness of LGBT employees in

the workplace. We apply the Theory of Justice to the chal-
lenges faced by the LGBT community, and show how trans-
parent corporate communication that reflects fairness, i.e.
LGBT-supportive workplace policies, may have implications
for organizational outcomes. Moreover, we use stakeholder
theory, which builds on the premise that all firms’ stake-
holders should be treated fairly and equally (Fieseler et al.
2010), to demonstrate that firms, through transparent cor-
porate communication, create value for stakeholders, which
ultimately adds value to the firm.

To empirically answer our research question, we use data
from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which provide
information on firms’ overall Corporate Equality Index
(CEI) score, sexual orientation non-discrimination policies,
gender-identity non-discrimination policies, domestic part-
ner benefits, and transgender policies from 2011 to 2014.
We find a significant positive relationship between the CEI
score and individual policies with firms’ levels of innova-
tion, which ultimately positively affect firm performance.

Our study may face critique on potential endogeneity bias
due to the causal effect of CEI on innovation. For instance,
a manager who is sensitive to the benevolent effects of cor-
porate social equality may hire more LGBT employees by
implementing LGBT-supportive workplace policies that will
ultimately improve firm innovation. On the other hand, firms
keen on innovation may also be responsive to external and
societal expectation in terms of implementing LGBT work-
place policies. We employ two techniques to minimize these
endogeneity concerns: propensity score matching (PSM) and
dynamic panel estimation [Generalized method of moments
(GMM)]. Our results are robust to these sensitivity tech-
niques and to alternate proxies of firm innovation.

Our contribution to the existing literature is twofold.
First, we contribute to the literature on Rawls’ Theory of
Justice (1971) by extending its construct of fairness to
LGBT employees and policies in the workplace that create
value for organizations. Second, we provide empirical evi-
dence to support our arguments on how LGBT workplace
policies positively affect firm outcomes. More specifically,
we contribute to the existing literature by investigating the
actual driver of value-addition, i.e. firm innovation. Previ-
ous studies that found a positive association between LGBT
workplace policies and firm performance failed to provide
a channel through which these policies may have an impact
on firm performance. In this study, we confirm the argument
that LGBT workplace policies improve firm performance
through innovation. Our study is also timely and supports
the upsurge in calls for LGBT rights in workplaces around
the globe.

The remainder of the paper is structured as follows.
“Workplace diversity management, accounting and inno-
vation” section discusses the intra-relationship between
workplace diversity management policies, accounting and

3 LGBT workplace policy is measured through the Corporate Equal-
ity Index (CEI), which is published annually by Human Rights Cam-
paign (HRC), the largest organization for LGBT rights in the U.S.
This index rates the firms from 0 to 100 points with 100 as the high-
est score based on different sub-policies (e.g. sexual orientation non-
discrimination policies, domestic partner benefits policies, workplace
training and LGBT-supportive policy guidelines).

777Do LGBT Workplace Diversity Policies Create Value for Firms?

1 3

innovation. “Theory and hypothesis development” sec-
tion discusses Rawls’ theory of Justice and the stakehoder
theory and develops the main hypothesis for this research.
“Research design” section comprises data collection mode
of characteristics of the firms for the study, selection of con-
trol variables and firm-specific characteristics and summary
of descriptive statistics. “Results and discussion” section
presents our empirical results based on workplace diversity
policies and innovation followed by discussion on robust-
ness checks and a detailed analysis. “Conclusion” section
presents our conclusions, including the implications of our
findings and the limitations of our research with suggestions
for future research.

Workplace Diversity Management,
Accounting and Innovation

With respect to the workplace, diversity refers to the co-
existence of employees from various socio-cultural back-
grounds. The equal opportunity philosophy is aimed at
ensuring that organizations make the most out of the unique-
ness of a diverse workforce, which might assist the organi-
zation to be more efficient and effective, rather than losing
talent. Broadly, diversity management is the systematic and
planned commitment by an organization to recruit, retain,
reward and promote a heterogeneous mix of employees
(Grobler et al. 2006). Nowadays, for many leading busi-
nesses, it is a strategic imperative to create a culture of
inclusion and diversity that extends to LGBT people: they
know that it correlates to greater individual performance
and ultimately, stronger business performance. For example,
85% of Fortune 500 businesses have explicit policies against
discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 49% include
gender identity (Kelly 2016). Prior studies have found that
various forms of diversity are associated with greater inno-
vation, improved strategic decision making, and better out-
comes when innovation and complex problem-solving are
required (Jackson and Joshi 2004; Francoeur et al. 2008;
Omankhanlen and Ogaga-Oghene 2011).

Hopwood (1987a, b) states that ‘Accounting is not a static
phenomenon’ (p. 207). Over time, accounting has been impli-
cated in the creation of very different patterns of organizational
segmentation (Hopwood 1987a, b). If accounting is a machine
(Burchell et al. 1980), it is a mechanical procedure that offers
propositions about problems to be concerned with in the
future (Mouritsen and Kreiner 2016). Therefore, account-
ing is relevant in many different situations. When decision
making is considered as a rational procedure, accounting is
understood as an answering machine calculating the economic
consequences of various decision alternatives (Mouritsen and
Kreiner 2016). If decision making is understood in less rational
terms, accounting may play a much more complex role, as a

learning, ammunition and rationalization machine (Stambaugh
and Carpenter 1992; Palincsar 1998; Mouritsen and Kreiner
2016). On the other hand, the accounting information also cre-
ates conditions for the possibility of the emergence of a new
interpretation of the organization’s activities, new criteria for
action and managerial structures (Dent 1990; Ezzamel and
Bourn 1990). Indeed, it is a general belief that greater transpar-
ency is a prerequisite for developing more useful accounting
information, as well as improved organizational accountability
(Roberts 2009). In this case, our assumption is that corporate
accounting information is largely embedded within the corpo-
rate strategies that are taken by the board of directors in rela-
tion to corporate performance and human resource policy that
required workplace contextual support for LBGT employees
(Webster et al. 2018; Pichler et al. 2018).

It is established that in the case of workplace discrimina-
tion, employers limit their available talent pool by discrimi-
nating against qualified applicants because of their sexual
orientation and/or gender identity (Tilscik 2011). Literature
concurs that LGBT employees experience less discrimina-
tion when their employers have non-discrimination policies
that include sexual orientation and gender identity, and are
more amenable to the efforts of strategic outcomes and val-
ues of the organization (Schneider et al. 2013). Moreover,
companies that are more diverse and inclusive are better
able to compete, and have higher levels of innovation and
creativity. In a global survey of companies with a turnover
of more than $500 million, 85% agreed that workforce diver-
sity encourages different perspectives, which drive innova-
tion (Forbes Insights 2011). As diversity in the workplace is
related to increased innovation, improved strategic decision
making, and greater problem-solving skills within business
teams (Jackson and Joshi 2004; Francoeur et al. 2008), we
can conclude that there is a relationship between workplace
diversity management in relation to LGBT employees,
accounting and innovation. LGBT-supportive workplace
policies can bring about two specific benefits that can have
a positive impact on the corporate bottom line (Sears and
Mallory 2011): retention of talented employees, and new
ideas and innovation generated by drawing upon a diverse
workforce with a wide range of characteristics.

Theory and Hypothesis Development

Rawls’ Theory of Justice (1971)

Rawls’ (1971) Theory of Justice has received enormous
attention from scholars in a wide range of disciplines
(Chapman 1975; Bond and Park 1991). This theory offers
a rational accommodation of freedom and equality (Chap-
man 1975). It also provides a foundation, based on the idea
of fairness, which links the demands of justice to a more

778 M. Hossain et al.

1 3

general mode of reasoning (Sen 1995). The successful inte-
gration of the ideas of fairness, rationality, reasonableness,
objectivity, and reflective equilibrium show Rawls’ theory
of justice to be remarkably effective.

The tolerance of gender inequality is closely related to
notions of legitimacy and correctness (Sen 1995). In theory,
the State should guarantee the freedom and liberty of all
its citizens, human rights, rule of law, participation, fair-
ness and justice (Freeman 2006; Petersmann 2008). Firms
should provide guarantees on what is essentially described
as “equality of opportunity”, i.e. that there should be no dis-
crimination (legal or de facto) against any group of people
(or minority) based on the values and identity they uphold
(De Hart 1994; Gavrilovic 2016).

Rawls consistently points out that the organizational insti-
tution has the resources and the opportunity to treat others
fairly, and to reward employees not according to a specific
socio-demographical factor such as race, religion or gen-
der, but according to their merit, based on work competency
within the institution (Rawls 1971). Rawls also adds that
because the institution has a unique opportunity to advance
fairness and meritocratic values in society at large, a greater
ethical imperative is placed upon the institution to do so
(Rawls 1971). The employees who work in a company also
have a platform to advance the fairness principle in the
workplace.

Stakeholder Theory

Researchers have long been interested in the process of
social change through activist pressure on corporations
(Briscoe et al. 2014) in order to create an environment of
equality, sometimes with specific reference to sexual orienta-
tion and gender-identity policies in the workplace (Pichler
et al. 2018). Other researchers investigate corporate disclo-
sures and corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices,
which are vehicles of communication between corporations
and stakeholders. There are many theoretical perspectives
on corporate disclosures, many of which are closely tied to
stakeholder theory (Donaldson and Preston 1995; Pichler
et al. 2018).

The key proposition of stakeholder theory is that firms
have a variety of stakeholders, who are affected by or affect
firms’ outcomes (Freeman 1984). It is important to include
and represent the stakeholders and their interests within the
firm because it is not only management who contribute to
the success of an organization, but also stakeholders, such as
customers, suppliers, and employees, who also make impor-
tant contributions to the organization (Baker and Anderson
2010). A limitation of stakeholder theory, as noted by Fiese-
ler et al. (2010), is that it does not include ethical guidelines
for communication and treating all stakeholders equally.
The existing literature provides a rich discussion on how

stakeholders are valued equally (or not) and how their inter-
ests are addressed (or not) within the organization (Turnbull
et al. 2011; Van Dijk et al. 2012).

The commitment to diversity, equality and inclusive-
ness towards LGBT groups is an important aspect of CSR
(Snider et al. 2003; Colgan 2011). Therefore, our assumption
is that LGBT-supportive policies in a firm are increasingly
important as part of workplace diversity management, which
should be communicated in a transparent way to all stake-
holders, for example through the CSR report. Stakeholders
seek to shape equitable employment practices through nego-
tiations inside organizations (Bidwell et al. 2013). Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest national LGBT civil
rights organization in the USA, collected data based on an
annual survey to rate U.S. firms on how they treated LGBT
employees, with the compliance of pre-determined ques-
tions scoring a maximum of 100.4 This suggests that a pres-
sure group like HRC, which is an example of a stakeholder,
through its compiled Corporate Equality Index, can create
value for other stakeholders, and ultimately for firms. From
a stakeholder perspective, if a firm implements LGBT-sup-
portive workplace policies, it provides a signal to potential
employees and the market that the firm is socially respon-
sible in terms of anti-discrimination policies and support
for diversity (Theodorakopoulos and Budhwar 2015; Pichler
et al. 2018).

Hypothesis Development

Innovation is an important determinant of firm-level com-
petitiveness (Porter and Stern 2001) and is of interest to
many stakeholders (Fang et al. 2014). The literature on the
business case for diversity builds on the assertion that diver-
sity brings innovation, creativity and problem-solving skills
(Østergaard et al. 2011). Research also indicates that LGBT-
supportive workplace policies are increasingly important to
employees regardless of their own sexual orientation and
gender identity (Badgett et al. 2007; Cordes 2012). Although
prior studies have linked LGBT-supportive workplace poli-
cies to a variety of social imperatives and firm outcomes, i.e.
firm performance and stock returns, our study investigates
the actual existence of value-addition (Hypothesis). In short,
we believe that firms, through effective workplace diversity
management (i.e. implementation of LGBT workplace poli-
cies) can improve their competitiveness in the market. Con-
sistent with prior research on the importance of innovation
to stakeholders and the positive effects of LGBT-supportive
workplace policies on firm outcomes, we hypothesize:

4 A detailed discussion has been included in the research design.

779Do LGBT Workplace Diversity Policies Create Value for Firms?

1 3

H LGBT workplace policies are positively associated with
firm innovation.

Research Design

Our data on corporate workplace policies are collected
manually from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) annual
reports (HRC 2015) that provide information on firms’ over-
all Corporate Equality Index (CEI) score, sexual orientation
non-discrimination policies, gender-identity non-discrimi-
nation policies, domestic partner benefits, and transgen-
der policies from 2011 to 2014. The HRC survey includes
firms from Standard and Poor’s 500, Forbes’ list of the 200
largest privately held firms, and the Fortune 500 largest
publicly traded firms.5 Prior research (e.g. Johnston and
Malina 2008; Wang and Schwarz 2010; Shan et al. 2017)
has used the HRC CEI scores to study the impact of LGBT-
supportive corporate policies on firms’ outcomes (such as
firm performance). We collect firm innovation, accounting
and governance characteristics from Bloomberg that reports
data on firm patents, trademarks, copyrights, research and
development, board size, and leverage among others. Con-
sistent with the previous studies (e.g. Chen et al. 2017), we
match both datasets and require sample firm-years to have
corporate workplace policies, governance and accounting
data in order to be included as part of the sample. Our final
sample consists of 398 firms or 1592 firm-year observations.

Empirical Model and Variables

To examine the impact of CEI on firm innovation, we esti-
mate the following baseline model:

We measure our dependent variable innovation as the
number of patents, trademarks, and copyright (PTC) grants
in a year. We choose our measurement of innovation based
on several factors. First, this measurement shows the true
economic value of innovation that has been created and
recognized, through grants of patents, trademarks and

(1)

Innovation
i,t = � + �1(Corporate_Equality)i,t

+ �2(Board_Characteristics)i,t

+ �3(Firm_Characteristics)i,t

+ �4

(Industry Effects)
i

+ �5

(Year Effects)
t
+ �

i,t

copyrights in a year (Hall et al. 2005). Second, this meas-
urement provides precise assessment of the outcome of a
firm’s efforts and investment in innovation. Third, our meas-
urement is based on innovation outcome rather than input
(e.g. research and development expenditure). However, we
also employ the input-based measurement of innovation,
i.e. research and development expenditures (Ln_R&D) fol-
lowing Miller and del Carmen Triana (2009). Other alter-
native measures of innovation include patents, trademarks
and copyrights per employee, per sales (PTC/Emp, PTC/
Sales), and research and development per sales (R&D/Sales),
respectively.

The variable of interest in this study is workplace diver-
sity policies. The HRC annual reports on the Corporate
Equality Index rates a firm on a scale, ranging from 0 to 100,
with 100 being the highest equality.6 The measure includes
not only the workplace diversity policies that the firm has in
place, but also the training taking place, involvement with
the LGBT community, and responsible citizenship of the
firm. The rating criteria include points assigned to a firm
according to whether its employment policies include sexual
orientation, gender identity and diversity training, support-
ive gender transition guidelines, domestic partner insurance,
and transgender wellness benefits. For example, according to
2014 criteria, a policy such as non-discrimination on sexual
orientation earns 15 points, non-discrimination on gender
identity earns 15 points, and partner health insurance earns
15 points. The point breakdown for diversity policies is
publicly available. The HRC Corporate Equality Index has
been commonly used by prior studies to investigate different
firm-level outcomes (e.g. Wang and Schwarz 2010; Cook
and Glass 2016; Shan et al. 2017). In addition to CEI (the
umbrella measure), we also employ a set of dummy variables
to measure the individual policies. First, we employ dummy
variable (SONDP) that equals 1 if a firm has a sexual orien-
tation non-discrimination policy in place and 0 otherwise.
Second, we use dummy variable (GINDP) that equals 1 if
a firm has a gender-identity non-discrimination policy in
place, and 0 otherwise. Third, we assign dummy variable
(DPB) that equals 1 if a firm has a domestic partner benefits
policy in place, and 0 otherwise. Finally, we employ dummy
variable (TG) that equals 1 if a firm has a transgender ben-
efits policy in place, and 0 otherwise.

5 In 2002, the HRC (largest national LGBT civil rights organization
in the USA) began conducting an annual survey to rate US firms on
how they treat their LGBT employees, investors, and consumers. The
HRC publishes an annual report on the Corporate Equality Index
(CEI).

6 The HRC asks the largest organizations to submit a survey for this
index. However, their compliance is voluntary, and organizations can
also submit responses, if not asked by HRC. The HRC CEI measure
includes a comprehensive set of sexual equality and gender-identity
policies and the measure is used by extant literature. However, we
acknowledge that it may not be a perfect measure due to the likeli-
hood of certain perceptions and limitations of this organization
(HRC).

780 M. Hossain et al.

1 3

We use two types of control variables: corporate gov-
ernance and firm characteristics. Our selection of control
variables is based on prior studies (e.g. Cook and Glass
2016; Chen et al. 2017). Chen et al. (2017) show that cor-
porate board characteristics are also important determinants
of corporate policies. Therefore, we include a variety of
board-specific variables to capture the quality of corpo-
rate governance, such as board size (Bsize) (measured as
the total number of directors on the board); CEO duality
(Duality) serves as proxy for CEO power (a dummy vari-
able that equals 1 if the CEO is a chairman of the board,
and 0 otherwise); board independence (Bind) is considered
an effective monitoring tool (Fama and Jensen 1983) to
implement societal shifts towards the LGBT community,
as board independence is more likely to promote workplace
diversity policies (measured as the number of independent
directors divided by the board size); and regular board meet-
ings (Ln_bmeeting) which improve the board’s monitoring
ability (Rutherford and Buchholtz 2007) and tend to approve
diversity-supportive initiatives (measured as the log of the
total number of board meetings held in a year).

The firm characteristics include firm-specific variables,
such as size of the firm (Firm size), which is measured as
the natural log of total assets; ROA, return on assets, which
is a measure of financial health; and Leverage, which is
measured as total debt (short- and long-term) to total assets.
Tobin’s q, a proxy for growth opportunities, is the ratio of
the book value of assets minus the book value of equity plus
the market value of equity to the book value of assets. Inside
ownership (Insideown), a proxy for internal ownership, is
measured as shares held by insiders to total outstanding
shares. Capex, a proxy for capital expenditure, is measured
by total capital expenditure divided by total assets (Table 1).

To test our empirical model, we use ordinary least square
(OLS) as the baseline method and include industry (based on
two-digit codes of GICS industry sectors) and year effects.
The standard errors are corrected for through the clustering
of residuals at the firm level to control for heteroscedasticity
and within-firm correlation in the residuals (Petersen 2009).7
We also specify 1-year-lagged independent variables by
replacing the contemporaneous variables in the regressions
to mitigate the endogeneity concerns (Harford et al. 2008).

The underlying rationale is that diversity policies and board
characteristics require time to influence firm innovation.

Descriptive Statistics

Table 2 presents the summary statistics. The average of inno-
vation measure (PTC) is 420.245 (see Panel A in Table 2).
Panel B shows workplace diversity policy measures. CEI has
a 58.222 average value; about 89% of firm observations offer
a sexual orientation non-discrimination policy (SONDP);
61% of firm observations have a gender-identity non-dis-
crimination policy (GINDP); domestic partner benefits are
offered by 63% of firm observations (DPB); and only 32%
of the firm observations have transgender benefits policies
(TG). The CEI score indicates whether a firm fully supports
policies or only does so symbolically. In our sample, 39%
of all firm observations score 100 points, suggesting that
these firms engage in the best practices with their LGBT
employees and provide support to the LGBT and non-LGBT
workforce in creating a respectful and conducive workplace
environment for all. Panel C shows that on average, the
board size (Bsize) is 11.051; CEO duality (Duality) has the
mean value 0.547; board independence (Bind) is 82.322%;
and the average number of board meetings (Ln_bmeeting)
is 7.962. Panel D shows that size of the firm (Firm size) has
an average value of 4.078; ROA shows 6.177 mean value;
and Leverage has an average value of 0.256. Tobin’s q has an
average of 1.844; Insideown, a proxy for internal ownership,
shows a mean value of 2.084%; and capex has an average of
− 0.043. Table 3 shows the number and percentage of firms
offering workplace diversity policies. For instance, about
96% of firms (386 firms) have SONDP; 76% of firms (306
firms) have GINDP; DPB and TG are o

draft

Vol.:(0123456789)1 3

Journal of Business Ethics (2020) 167:775–791
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04158-z

O R I G I N A L PA P E R

Do LGBT Workplace Diversity Policies Create Value for Firms?

Mohammed Hossain1,2 · Muhammad Atif3 · Ammad Ahmed4 · Lokman Mia1

Received: 27 June 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2019 / Published online: 25 April 2019
© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Abstract
We show that the U.S. anti-discriminatory laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation
and gender identity (i.e. lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) identities) spur innovation, which ultimately leads
to higher firm performance. We use the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) of 398 (1592 firm-
year observations) U.S. firms between 2011 and 2014, and find a significantly positive relationship between CEI and firm
innovation. We also find that an interacting effect of CEI and firm innovation leads to higher firm performance. We use
our understanding of Rawls’ Theory of Justice and stakeholder theory to show that firms with workplace diversity policies
are likely to be more innovative and perform better than those without such policies. Our results are robust to endogeneity,
reverse causality and simultaneity issues. Our results will trigger debate in similar markets around the globe on the economic
benefits of LGBT workplace diversity policies for firms.

Keywords Workplace diversity · LGBT · Innovation · Firm performance

Introduction

Support for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender—
hereafter LGBT) rights has increased substantially over the
last two decades in Australia, UK, USA, and other European
countries (Lloren and Parini 2017; Pichler et al. 2018). Con-
sequently, corporate equality initiatives, and more specifi-
cally, employee equality initiatives are becoming an integral
part of firms’ diversity management. These initiatives sig-
nal an open and tolerant workplace environment in which
employees are not discriminated against on the basis of their

sexual orientation or gender identity.1 Liddle et al. (2004)
emphasize that workplace environment plays a key role in
employee recruitment, productivity, stress and commitment.
It is estimated that approximately eight million people, or
3.5% of the U.S population, identify as LGBT (Gates 2011,
2012) and 30 states have no laws protecting the employment
rights of LGBT individuals (Webster et al. 2018). Research
has shown that individuals who identify as LGBT face dis-
crimination, hostility and negative attitudes (homophobia
and transphobia) in the workplace, which negatively affects
their performance on the job in terms of higher absenteeism
and lower productivity (Bonaventura and Biondo 2016).

To improve the workplace environment, in 2017, the
U.N. High Commissioner for human rights released new
standards of conduct to eliminate discrimination against
LGBT employees in the workplace.2 These anti-discrimi-
natory policies have both societal and economic benefits.
For example, formal acceptance of LGBT employees in the
workplace makes them feel less anxious, less threatened, and
more comfortable (Liddle et al. 2004). In terms of economic

* Mohammed Hossain
mohammed.hossain@griffith.edu.au; mhossain@su.edu.om

Muhammad Atif
m.atif@essex.ac.uk

Ammad Ahmed
ammad.ahmed@zu.ac.ae

Lokman Mia
l.mia@griffith.edu.au

1 Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Griffith
Business School, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia

2 Faculty of Business, Sohar University, Sohar, Oman
3 Essex Business School, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
4 College of Business, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi,

United Arab Emirates

1 The extant literature from various fields, including history, soci-
ology, and psychology, concurs that discrimination against LGBT
groups exists because of both sexual orientation and gender identity
(e.g. Badgett 1995; Drydakis 2009; King and Cortina 2010; Ozeren
2014; Bonaventura and Biondo 2016).
2 These standards include respect, elimination and prevention of dis-
crimination, support, and taking a stand for LGBT individuals.

776 M. Hossain et al.

1 3

benefits, in Australia, it has been estimated that acceptance
of secluded workers in different workplaces could lead to
as much as $285 million in savings per year nationally, an
increase of 11% in staff retention and an increase of 30% in
productivity (Johnson and Cooper 2015). At the organiza-
tional level, acceptance of LGBT groups increases the pool
of talent from which organizations may draw strategic ben-
efits, and such inclusion leads to an increase in diversity in
different positions and professional teams within the organi-
zation (Barbulescu and Bidwell 2013). However, although
promoters of LGBT-supportive policies argue that these
enhance the talent pool and improve firm-level diversity,
very little attention has been paid to whether these policies
create value for firms.

To recognize the economic effects of LGBT workplace
policies, this paper focuses on the effect of LGBT workplace
policies3 in value creation for firms. A growing number of
studies have focused on the social imperative of workplace
policies, i.e. discrimination and LGBT workplace policies
(Ragins and Cornwell 2001; Priola et al. 2014), diversity and
LGBT workplace policies (Ozturk and Tatli 2016), stigma
in the workplace and LGBT workplace policies (Ragins
2008), and politics and LGBT workplace policies (Gupta
et al. 2017; Rhodes 2017). However, only a limited num-
ber of studies have focused on the economic imperative of
workplace policies, i.e. firm performance and LGBT work-
place policies (Shan et al. 2017; Pichler et al. 2017, 2018).
In this paper, we seek to investigate the impact of LGBT
workplace policies on firms’ innovation, and ultimately on
firm performance.

We use Rawls’ Theory of Justice (1971) to explain ethical
corporate behaviour, social responsibility, societal fairness
and equality (Chapman 1975). This theory points to fairness
as a social good and suggests that institutions (in this case,
firms) have a responsibility and an opportunity to demon-
strate how to treat others (in this case, employees) fairly.
The theory further specifies that fairness should not be con-
tingent upon socio-demographical characteristics. Instead,
fairness at the workplace should be rooted within a work-
ers’ meritocracy. Prior literature that has confirmed Rawls’
(1971) concept of fairness and its value to organizational
outcomes is limited to some specific socio-demographical
factors, i.e. race and religion (Beckley 1986; Cohen 2010).
To date, no research on Rawls’ (1971) contribution is
extended specifically to the fairness of LGBT employees in

the workplace. We apply the Theory of Justice to the chal-
lenges faced by the LGBT community, and show how trans-
parent corporate communication that reflects fairness, i.e.
LGBT-supportive workplace policies, may have implications
for organizational outcomes. Moreover, we use stakeholder
theory, which builds on the premise that all firms’ stake-
holders should be treated fairly and equally (Fieseler et al.
2010), to demonstrate that firms, through transparent cor-
porate communication, create value for stakeholders, which
ultimately adds value to the firm.

To empirically answer our research question, we use data
from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which provide
information on firms’ overall Corporate Equality Index
(CEI) score, sexual orientation non-discrimination policies,
gender-identity non-discrimination policies, domestic part-
ner benefits, and transgender policies from 2011 to 2014.
We find a significant positive relationship between the CEI
score and individual policies with firms’ levels of innova-
tion, which ultimately positively affect firm performance.

Our study may face critique on potential endogeneity bias
due to the causal effect of CEI on innovation. For instance,
a manager who is sensitive to the benevolent effects of cor-
porate social equality may hire more LGBT employees by
implementing LGBT-supportive workplace policies that will
ultimately improve firm innovation. On the other hand, firms
keen on innovation may also be responsive to external and
societal expectation in terms of implementing LGBT work-
place policies. We employ two techniques to minimize these
endogeneity concerns: propensity score matching (PSM) and
dynamic panel estimation [Generalized method of moments
(GMM)]. Our results are robust to these sensitivity tech-
niques and to alternate proxies of firm innovation.

Our contribution to the existing literature is twofold.
First, we contribute to the literature on Rawls’ Theory of
Justice (1971) by extending its construct of fairness to
LGBT employees and policies in the workplace that create
value for organizations. Second, we provide empirical evi-
dence to support our arguments on how LGBT workplace
policies positively affect firm outcomes. More specifically,
we contribute to the existing literature by investigating the
actual driver of value-addition, i.e. firm innovation. Previ-
ous studies that found a positive association between LGBT
workplace policies and firm performance failed to provide
a channel through which these policies may have an impact
on firm performance. In this study, we confirm the argument
that LGBT workplace policies improve firm performance
through innovation. Our study is also timely and supports
the upsurge in calls for LGBT rights in workplaces around
the globe.

The remainder of the paper is structured as follows.
“Workplace diversity management, accounting and inno-
vation” section discusses the intra-relationship between
workplace diversity management policies, accounting and

3 LGBT workplace policy is measured through the Corporate Equal-
ity Index (CEI), which is published annually by Human Rights Cam-
paign (HRC), the largest organization for LGBT rights in the U.S.
This index rates the firms from 0 to 100 points with 100 as the high-
est score based on different sub-policies (e.g. sexual orientation non-
discrimination policies, domestic partner benefits policies, workplace
training and LGBT-supportive policy guidelines).

777Do LGBT Workplace Diversity Policies Create Value for Firms?

1 3

innovation. “Theory and hypothesis development” sec-
tion discusses Rawls’ theory of Justice and the stakehoder
theory and develops the main hypothesis for this research.
“Research design” section comprises data collection mode
of characteristics of the firms for the study, selection of con-
trol variables and firm-specific characteristics and summary
of descriptive statistics. “Results and discussion” section
presents our empirical results based on workplace diversity
policies and innovation followed by discussion on robust-
ness checks and a detailed analysis. “Conclusion” section
presents our conclusions, including the implications of our
findings and the limitations of our research with suggestions
for future research.

Workplace Diversity Management,
Accounting and Innovation

With respect to the workplace, diversity refers to the co-
existence of employees from various socio-cultural back-
grounds. The equal opportunity philosophy is aimed at
ensuring that organizations make the most out of the unique-
ness of a diverse workforce, which might assist the organi-
zation to be more efficient and effective, rather than losing
talent. Broadly, diversity management is the systematic and
planned commitment by an organization to recruit, retain,
reward and promote a heterogeneous mix of employees
(Grobler et al. 2006). Nowadays, for many leading busi-
nesses, it is a strategic imperative to create a culture of
inclusion and diversity that extends to LGBT people: they
know that it correlates to greater individual performance
and ultimately, stronger business performance. For example,
85% of Fortune 500 businesses have explicit policies against
discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 49% include
gender identity (Kelly 2016). Prior studies have found that
various forms of diversity are associated with greater inno-
vation, improved strategic decision making, and better out-
comes when innovation and complex problem-solving are
required (Jackson and Joshi 2004; Francoeur et al. 2008;
Omankhanlen and Ogaga-Oghene 2011).

Hopwood (1987a, b) states that ‘Accounting is not a static
phenomenon’ (p. 207). Over time, accounting has been impli-
cated in the creation of very different patterns of organizational
segmentation (Hopwood 1987a, b). If accounting is a machine
(Burchell et al. 1980), it is a mechanical procedure that offers
propositions about problems to be concerned with in the
future (Mouritsen and Kreiner 2016). Therefore, account-
ing is relevant in many different situations. When decision
making is considered as a rational procedure, accounting is
understood as an answering machine calculating the economic
consequences of various decision alternatives (Mouritsen and
Kreiner 2016). If decision making is understood in less rational
terms, accounting may play a much more complex role, as a

learning, ammunition and rationalization machine (Stambaugh
and Carpenter 1992; Palincsar 1998; Mouritsen and Kreiner
2016). On the other hand, the accounting information also cre-
ates conditions for the possibility of the emergence of a new
interpretation of the organization’s activities, new criteria for
action and managerial structures (Dent 1990; Ezzamel and
Bourn 1990). Indeed, it is a general belief that greater transpar-
ency is a prerequisite for developing more useful accounting
information, as well as improved organizational accountability
(Roberts 2009). In this case, our assumption is that corporate
accounting information is largely embedded within the corpo-
rate strategies that are taken by the board of directors in rela-
tion to corporate performance and human resource policy that
required workplace contextual support for LBGT employees
(Webster et al. 2018; Pichler et al. 2018).

It is established that in the case of workplace discrimina-
tion, employers limit their available talent pool by discrimi-
nating against qualified applicants because of their sexual
orientation and/or gender identity (Tilscik 2011). Literature
concurs that LGBT employees experience less discrimina-
tion when their employers have non-discrimination policies
that include sexual orientation and gender identity, and are
more amenable to the efforts of strategic outcomes and val-
ues of the organization (Schneider et al. 2013). Moreover,
companies that are more diverse and inclusive are better
able to compete, and have higher levels of innovation and
creativity. In a global survey of companies with a turnover
of more than $500 million, 85% agreed that workforce diver-
sity encourages different perspectives, which drive innova-
tion (Forbes Insights 2011). As diversity in the workplace is
related to increased innovation, improved strategic decision
making, and greater problem-solving skills within business
teams (Jackson and Joshi 2004; Francoeur et al. 2008), we
can conclude that there is a relationship between workplace
diversity management in relation to LGBT employees,
accounting and innovation. LGBT-supportive workplace
policies can bring about two specific benefits that can have
a positive impact on the corporate bottom line (Sears and
Mallory 2011): retention of talented employees, and new
ideas and innovation generated by drawing upon a diverse
workforce with a wide range of characteristics.

Theory and Hypothesis Development

Rawls’ Theory of Justice (1971)

Rawls’ (1971) Theory of Justice has received enormous
attention from scholars in a wide range of disciplines
(Chapman 1975; Bond and Park 1991). This theory offers
a rational accommodation of freedom and equality (Chap-
man 1975). It also provides a foundation, based on the idea
of fairness, which links the demands of justice to a more

778 M. Hossain et al.

1 3

general mode of reasoning (Sen 1995). The successful inte-
gration of the ideas of fairness, rationality, reasonableness,
objectivity, and reflective equilibrium show Rawls’ theory
of justice to be remarkably effective.

The tolerance of gender inequality is closely related to
notions of legitimacy and correctness (Sen 1995). In theory,
the State should guarantee the freedom and liberty of all
its citizens, human rights, rule of law, participation, fair-
ness and justice (Freeman 2006; Petersmann 2008). Firms
should provide guarantees on what is essentially described
as “equality of opportunity”, i.e. that there should be no dis-
crimination (legal or de facto) against any group of people
(or minority) based on the values and identity they uphold
(De Hart 1994; Gavrilovic 2016).

Rawls consistently points out that the organizational insti-
tution has the resources and the opportunity to treat others
fairly, and to reward employees not according to a specific
socio-demographical factor such as race, religion or gen-
der, but according to their merit, based on work competency
within the institution (Rawls 1971). Rawls also adds that
because the institution has a unique opportunity to advance
fairness and meritocratic values in society at large, a greater
ethical imperative is placed upon the institution to do so
(Rawls 1971). The employees who work in a company also
have a platform to advance the fairness principle in the
workplace.

Stakeholder Theory

Researchers have long been interested in the process of
social change through activist pressure on corporations
(Briscoe et al. 2014) in order to create an environment of
equality, sometimes with specific reference to sexual orienta-
tion and gender-identity policies in the workplace (Pichler
et al. 2018). Other researchers investigate corporate disclo-
sures and corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices,
which are vehicles of communication between corporations
and stakeholders. There are many theoretical perspectives
on corporate disclosures, many of which are closely tied to
stakeholder theory (Donaldson and Preston 1995; Pichler
et al. 2018).

The key proposition of stakeholder theory is that firms
have a variety of stakeholders, who are affected by or affect
firms’ outcomes (Freeman 1984). It is important to include
and represent the stakeholders and their interests within the
firm because it is not only management who contribute to
the success of an organization, but also stakeholders, such as
customers, suppliers, and employees, who also make impor-
tant contributions to the organization (Baker and Anderson
2010). A limitation of stakeholder theory, as noted by Fiese-
ler et al. (2010), is that it does not include ethical guidelines
for communication and treating all stakeholders equally.
The existing literature provides a rich discussion on how

stakeholders are valued equally (or not) and how their inter-
ests are addressed (or not) within the organization (Turnbull
et al. 2011; Van Dijk et al. 2012).

The commitment to diversity, equality and inclusive-
ness towards LGBT groups is an important aspect of CSR
(Snider et al. 2003; Colgan 2011). Therefore, our assumption
is that LGBT-supportive policies in a firm are increasingly
important as part of workplace diversity management, which
should be communicated in a transparent way to all stake-
holders, for example through the CSR report. Stakeholders
seek to shape equitable employment practices through nego-
tiations inside organizations (Bidwell et al. 2013). Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest national LGBT civil
rights organization in the USA, collected data based on an
annual survey to rate U.S. firms on how they treated LGBT
employees, with the compliance of pre-determined ques-
tions scoring a maximum of 100.4 This suggests that a pres-
sure group like HRC, which is an example of a stakeholder,
through its compiled Corporate Equality Index, can create
value for other stakeholders, and ultimately for firms. From
a stakeholder perspective, if a firm implements LGBT-sup-
portive workplace policies, it provides a signal to potential
employees and the market that the firm is socially respon-
sible in terms of anti-discrimination policies and support
for diversity (Theodorakopoulos and Budhwar 2015; Pichler
et al. 2018).

Hypothesis Development

Innovation is an important determinant of firm-level com-
petitiveness (Porter and Stern 2001) and is of interest to
many stakeholders (Fang et al. 2014). The literature on the
business case for diversity builds on the assertion that diver-
sity brings innovation, creativity and problem-solving skills
(Østergaard et al. 2011). Research also indicates that LGBT-
supportive workplace policies are increasingly important to
employees regardless of their own sexual orientation and
gender identity (Badgett et al. 2007; Cordes 2012). Although
prior studies have linked LGBT-supportive workplace poli-
cies to a variety of social imperatives and firm outcomes, i.e.
firm performance and stock returns, our study investigates
the actual existence of value-addition (Hypothesis). In short,
we believe that firms, through effective workplace diversity
management (i.e. implementation of LGBT workplace poli-
cies) can improve their competitiveness in the market. Con-
sistent with prior research on the importance of innovation
to stakeholders and the positive effects of LGBT-supportive
workplace policies on firm outcomes, we hypothesize:

4 A detailed discussion has been included in the research design.

779Do LGBT Workplace Diversity Policies Create Value for Firms?

1 3

H LGBT workplace policies are positively associated with
firm innovation.

Research Design

Our data on corporate workplace policies are collected
manually from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) annual
reports (HRC 2015) that provide information on firms’ over-
all Corporate Equality Index (CEI) score, sexual orientation
non-discrimination policies, gender-identity non-discrimi-
nation policies, domestic partner benefits, and transgen-
der policies from 2011 to 2014. The HRC survey includes
firms from Standard and Poor’s 500, Forbes’ list of the 200
largest privately held firms, and the Fortune 500 largest
publicly traded firms.5 Prior research (e.g. Johnston and
Malina 2008; Wang and Schwarz 2010; Shan et al. 2017)
has used the HRC CEI scores to study the impact of LGBT-
supportive corporate policies on firms’ outcomes (such as
firm performance). We collect firm innovation, accounting
and governance characteristics from Bloomberg that reports
data on firm patents, trademarks, copyrights, research and
development, board size, and leverage among others. Con-
sistent with the previous studies (e.g. Chen et al. 2017), we
match both datasets and require sample firm-years to have
corporate workplace policies, governance and accounting
data in order to be included as part of the sample. Our final
sample consists of 398 firms or 1592 firm-year observations.

Empirical Model and Variables

To examine the impact of CEI on firm innovation, we esti-
mate the following baseline model:

We measure our dependent variable innovation as the
number of patents, trademarks, and copyright (PTC) grants
in a year. We choose our measurement of innovation based
on several factors. First, this measurement shows the true
economic value of innovation that has been created and
recognized, through grants of patents, trademarks and

(1)

Innovation
i,t = � + �1(Corporate_Equality)i,t

+ �2(Board_Characteristics)i,t

+ �3(Firm_Characteristics)i,t

+ �4

(Industry Effects)
i

+ �5

(Year Effects)
t
+ �

i,t

copyrights in a year (Hall et al. 2005). Second, this meas-
urement provides precise assessment of the outcome of a
firm’s efforts and investment in innovation. Third, our meas-
urement is based on innovation outcome rather than input
(e.g. research and development expenditure). However, we
also employ the input-based measurement of innovation,
i.e. research and development expenditures (Ln_R&D) fol-
lowing Miller and del Carmen Triana (2009). Other alter-
native measures of innovation include patents, trademarks
and copyrights per employee, per sales (PTC/Emp, PTC/
Sales), and research and development per sales (R&D/Sales),
respectively.

The variable of interest in this study is workplace diver-
sity policies. The HRC annual reports on the Corporate
Equality Index rates a firm on a scale, ranging from 0 to 100,
with 100 being the highest equality.6 The measure includes
not only the workplace diversity policies that the firm has in
place, but also the training taking place, involvement with
the LGBT community, and responsible citizenship of the
firm. The rating criteria include points assigned to a firm
according to whether its employment policies include sexual
orientation, gender identity and diversity training, support-
ive gender transition guidelines, domestic partner insurance,
and transgender wellness benefits. For example, according to
2014 criteria, a policy such as non-discrimination on sexual
orientation earns 15 points, non-discrimination on gender
identity earns 15 points, and partner health insurance earns
15 points. The point breakdown for diversity policies is
publicly available. The HRC Corporate Equality Index has
been commonly used by prior studies to investigate different
firm-level outcomes (e.g. Wang and Schwarz 2010; Cook
and Glass 2016; Shan et al. 2017). In addition to CEI (the
umbrella measure), we also employ a set of dummy variables
to measure the individual policies. First, we employ dummy
variable (SONDP) that equals 1 if a firm has a sexual orien-
tation non-discrimination policy in place and 0 otherwise.
Second, we use dummy variable (GINDP) that equals 1 if
a firm has a gender-identity non-discrimination policy in
place, and 0 otherwise. Third, we assign dummy variable
(DPB) that equals 1 if a firm has a domestic partner benefits
policy in place, and 0 otherwise. Finally, we employ dummy
variable (TG) that equals 1 if a firm has a transgender ben-
efits policy in place, and 0 otherwise.

5 In 2002, the HRC (largest national LGBT civil rights organization
in the USA) began conducting an annual survey to rate US firms on
how they treat their LGBT employees, investors, and consumers. The
HRC publishes an annual report on the Corporate Equality Index
(CEI).

6 The HRC asks the largest organizations to submit a survey for this
index. However, their compliance is voluntary, and organizations can
also submit responses, if not asked by HRC. The HRC CEI measure
includes a comprehensive set of sexual equality and gender-identity
policies and the measure is used by extant literature. However, we
acknowledge that it may not be a perfect measure due to the likeli-
hood of certain perceptions and limitations of this organization
(HRC).

780 M. Hossain et al.

1 3

We use two types of control variables: corporate gov-
ernance and firm characteristics. Our selection of control
variables is based on prior studies (e.g. Cook and Glass
2016; Chen et al. 2017). Chen et al. (2017) show that cor-
porate board characteristics are also important determinants
of corporate policies. Therefore, we include a variety of
board-specific variables to capture the quality of corpo-
rate governance, such as board size (Bsize) (measured as
the total number of directors on the board); CEO duality
(Duality) serves as proxy for CEO power (a dummy vari-
able that equals 1 if the CEO is a chairman of the board,
and 0 otherwise); board independence (Bind) is considered
an effective monitoring tool (Fama and Jensen 1983) to
implement societal shifts towards the LGBT community,
as board independence is more likely to promote workplace
diversity policies (measured as the number of independent
directors divided by the board size); and regular board meet-
ings (Ln_bmeeting) which improve the board’s monitoring
ability (Rutherford and Buchholtz 2007) and tend to approve
diversity-supportive initiatives (measured as the log of the
total number of board meetings held in a year).

The firm characteristics include firm-specific variables,
such as size of the firm (Firm size), which is measured as
the natural log of total assets; ROA, return on assets, which
is a measure of financial health; and Leverage, which is
measured as total debt (short- and long-term) to total assets.
Tobin’s q, a proxy for growth opportunities, is the ratio of
the book value of assets minus the book value of equity plus
the market value of equity to the book value of assets. Inside
ownership (Insideown), a proxy for internal ownership, is
measured as shares held by insiders to total outstanding
shares. Capex, a proxy for capital expenditure, is measured
by total capital expenditure divided by total assets (Table 1).

To test our empirical model, we use ordinary least square
(OLS) as the baseline method and include industry (based on
two-digit codes of GICS industry sectors) and year effects.
The standard errors are corrected for through the clustering
of residuals at the firm level to control for heteroscedasticity
and within-firm correlation in the residuals (Petersen 2009).7
We also specify 1-year-lagged independent variables by
replacing the contemporaneous variables in the regressions
to mitigate the endogeneity concerns (Harford et al. 2008).

The underlying rationale is that diversity policies and board
characteristics require time to influence firm innovation.

Descriptive Statistics

Table 2 presents the summary statistics. The average of inno-
vation measure (PTC) is 420.245 (see Panel A in Table 2).
Panel B shows workplace diversity policy measures. CEI has
a 58.222 average value; about 89% of firm observations offer
a sexual orientation non-discrimination policy (SONDP);
61% of firm observations have a gender-identity non-dis-
crimination policy (GINDP); domestic partner benefits are
offered by 63% of firm observations (DPB); and only 32%
of the firm observations have transgender benefits policies
(TG). The CEI score indicates whether a firm fully supports
policies or only does so symbolically. In our sample, 39%
of all firm observations score 100 points, suggesting that
these firms engage in the best practices with their LGBT
employees and provide support to the LGBT and non-LGBT
workforce in creating a respectful and conducive workplace
environment for all. Panel C shows that on average, the
board size (Bsize) is 11.051; CEO duality (Duality) has the
mean value 0.547; board independence (Bind) is 82.322%;
and the average number of board meetings (Ln_bmeeting)
is 7.962. Panel D shows that size of the firm (Firm size) has
an average value of 4.078; ROA shows 6.177 mean value;
and Leverage has an average value of 0.256. Tobin’s q has an
average of 1.844; Insideown, a proxy for internal ownership,
shows a mean value of 2.084%; and capex has an average of
− 0.043. Table 3 shows the number and percentage of firms
offering workplace diversity policies. For instance, about
96% of firms (386 firms) have SONDP; 76% of firms (306
firms) have GINDP; DPB and TG are o

Draft

 

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92 Public Administration Review • January | February 2009

P. Edward French is an assistant

professor in the Department of Political

Science and Public Administration at

Mississippi State University. He is the

coauthor of three books and has published

in numerous academic journals. His

teaching and research interests encompass

local government administration, including

human resource issues, budgeting, public

policy, and selected topics in public

management.

E-mail: pef1@msstate.edu

Recent Trends
in Human
Resource
Management

Numerous aspects of the day-to-day operations of local

governments are subject to legal scrutiny; public manag-

ers and offi cials must be keenly aware of the legal rights

and protections that extend to both citizens and employ-

ees of local governments. Th is research evaluates several

areas of concern in the human resource administration of

municipal governments with respect to the management

of public employees within the protections set forth by the

legislative and judicial branches of the federal govern-

ment. Sample cases fi led from 2000 to 2007 against local

governments in Tennessee involving Title VII violations,

retaliation, hostile work environment, Family and Medi-

cal Leave Act violations, and other employee grievances

are detailed. Th e intent of this analysis is to highlight

many of the laws and legal principles that relate to

municipal human resources management and to provide

scholars and practitioners with a brief overview of the li-

abilities that may arise from the employment relationship

between local governments and their employees.

M
any of the laws established in this country,

especially those defi ned by the U.S. Con-

stitution, have been used to protect the

rights of our citizenry from infringement by the gov-

ernment; however, there are times when the actions of

federal, state, and local governments and their em-

ployees violate these protections in the provision of

services, the enforcement of the laws, and the manage-

ment of government employees. Yet the legal account-

ability of the government unit and its staff may

depend on the branch, circumstances, and outcome of

the violation. Th e federal government has always

possessed sovereign immunity and cannot be sued

unless it has waived this immunity or has consented

to the suit; the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitu-

tion grants similar sovereign

immunity to the states. 1 Local

governments, however, lack

protection from most court pro-

ceedings because of the U.S.

Supreme Court’s interpretation

that only states and arms of the

state possess immunity from suits

authorized by federal law ( Durchslag 2002 ). Th is

Court’s long-standing precedent has established that

political subdivisions of the states (counties, munici-

palities, school districts, and other local entities) are

not entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. 2

In 1946, Congress passed the Tort Claims Act, which

allowed citizens to sue their government for injuries

caused by the negligent action of federal employees.

Most state governments followed with similar statutes.

Historically, public employees have been protected as

individuals from constitutional torts by the doctrine

of absolute immunity established under American

common law ( Rosenbloom and Kravchuk 2005 ). Th is

doctrine was reexamined by the courts in the 1970s as

a result of the expansion of both individual constitu-

tional rights and civil liability in the American legal

system ( Riccucci 2006 ). While the Civil Rights Act of

1871 (amended and codifi ed in 42 U.S. Code, section

1983) was enacted after the Civil War to protect African

Americans in the South from abuses by the Ku Klux

Klan, litigation under this statute was fairly uncom-

mon until 1961. In Monroe v. Pape (365 U.S. 167

[1961]), the Supreme Court held that local govern-

ments were wholly immune from suit under 42

U.S.C. § 1983, which imposes civil liability on every

“person” who deprives another of his or her federally

protected rights. Th e Court reasoned that Congress

had not intended the word “person” in this section to

apply to municipalities. Th is case was later overturned

in Monell v. Department of Social Services of the State of

New York (436 U.S. 658 [1978]), in which the Court

determined that local governments, municipal corpo-

rations, and school boards were “persons” subject to

liability under § 1983 and were not wholly immune

from § 1983 suits. Th is decision

also stated that local government

offi cials could be sued in their

offi cial capacity as “persons”

under § 1983 in those cases in

which a local government would

be subject to suit in its own

name. Th is section also allows

P. Edward French
Mississippi State University

Employment Laws and the Public Sector Employer:

Lessons to Be Learned from a Review of Lawsuits Filed

against Local Governments

. . . the legal accountability of
the government unit and its

staff may depend on the branch,
circumstances, and outcome of

the violation.

Employment Laws and the Public Sector Employer 93

individuals to sue state offi cials in state or federal

court for civil rights violations. Th e doctrine of abso-

lute immunity has been replaced by qualifi ed immu-

nity for many employees of the public sector and still

protects government offi cials performing discretionary

functions as long as their actions do not violate clearly

established law. Qualifi ed immunity protects public

offi cials in all levels of government from civil suits

only if they have acted reasonably and in good faith

( Riccucci 2006 ). However, if a state or local govern-

ment offi cial violates a federally protected right of an

individual, such as those defi ned in the First Amend-

ment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the equal

protection clause of the Constitution, civil action for

the deprivation of rights can be initiated and redress

sought through the court system.

Numerous aspects of the day-to-day operations of

municipalities have attracted legal scrutiny; lawsuits

and judgments against municipalities, municipal

employees, and elected offi cials have increased dra-

matically over the last several years in many functional

areas as a result of the ruling in Monell ( LaBrec and

Foerster 1985 ). Th ird-party liabilities arising from

intentional or unintentional torts, statutory liabilities,

and contractual liabilities present a serious threat.

Also, individuals may fi le a case against the municipal-

ity alleging negligence of its offi cials or employees. In

addition, routine human resource functions such as

recruitment, selection, promotion, performance ap-

praisals, and merit systems have the potential for legal

scrutiny, jury trials, compensa-

tory and punitive damages, and

other burdens imposed under

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

of 1964, the Civil Rights Act of

1991, the Age Discrimination in

Employment Act, the Americans

with Disabilities Act (ADA), the

Equal Pay Act, the Fair Labor

Standards Act, the Family and

Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and

tort theories such as defamation,

misrepresentation, and negligence. While these acts

have been implemented to protect employees from

discrimination and arbitrary management decisions

and focus personnel decisions on job qualifi cations

and job related actions, the resulting increase in civil

rights and employment case law has also made it more

diffi cult for employers to take justifi ed action against

their employees ( Woodard 2005 ).

Th is research evaluates several areas of concern in the

human resource administration of municipal govern-

ments with respect to the management of local gov-

ernment employees within the protections set forth

by the legislative and judicial branches of the federal

government. It is inevitable that most local govern-

ments will experience some form of legal scrutiny

regarding their human resource operations. Decisions

in recruitment and selection, promotion, discipline,

and dismissal often fuel discrimination and other

types of lawsuits by disgruntled applicants, current

employees, and former employees. In many cases, the

nature of the employment relationship and the na-

ture of the employment decision are factors in deter-

mining whether a dispute has actual legal merit. An

overview of selected laws and legal principles that

pertain to the nature of the employment relationship

between municipal governments and their employees

is included in this analysis. In addition, select laws

and legal principles that describe the potential liabil-

ity for employment discrimination are discussed.

Sample cases fi led against local governments in Ten-

nessee involving Title VII violations, retaliation,

hostile work environment, Family and Medical Leave

Act violations, and other employee grievances are

detailed in this study to illustrate the liabilities that

may arise for municipalities in the employment law

arena.

Public Sector Employees and Their
Employers
Th e employment relationship between public sector

employees and public entities can be very diff erent

from the employment relationship between private

sector employees and private entities. Most individu-

als employed in the private sector are subject to an

at-will employment relationship with their organiza-

tion. Employment at will allows either party to ter-

minate the work relationship at

any time. Th is term is derived

from the court decision in Payne

v. Western and Atlantic RA Com-

pany (82 Tenn. 597 [1884]),

which held that an employer in

the private sector does not have

to provide cause to an employee

who is terminated ( Patton et al.

2002 ). At-will employment

often prevents private sector

employees from claiming a

property right in their positions within the organiza-

tion. Yet the private employer’s discretion regarding

termination is not entirely without limits. Employers

may be found liable by the courts in cases in which

there may be an implied contract or in which the

employer terminates an employee after the individ-

ual complains of harassment or accuses the employer

of some other form of misconduct involving dis-

crimination or retaliation. However, with at-will

employment arrangements, the employee who chal-

lenges an arbitrary discharge shoulders the burden of

proof in the judicial proceeding; even employees

who have legitimate claims may be discouraged from

pursuing legal recourse because of the costs, time

requirements, and justifi cations required ( Gertz

2006 ).

Th e employment relationship
between public sector

employees and public entities
can be very diff erent from the

employment relationship
between private sector

employees and private entities.

94 Public Administration Review • January | February 2009

Most public sector employees, however, are privy to a

unique set of legal protections guaranteed by several

federal and state laws. Th e Constitution often pro-

tects the public sector employee’s rights to freedom

of speech and association, privacy, equal protection,

and due process, just as it protects these same rights

of all citizens; the Supreme Court has continued to

rule that public employees have substantive constitu-

tional rights and protections against the actions of

government employers ( Rosenbloom 2007 ). In addi-

tion, a civil service employee is considered to have a

bona fi de property right to his or her position after

he or she has progressed beyond the probationary

term of employment ( Patton et al. 2002 ). Termina-

tion of a civil employee by a federal, state, or local

government requires just cause that in many cases

must be viewed as indisputable if the employee fi les

a wrongful discharge claim against the government

employer. At the present time, only a handful of

states, including Florida, Georgia, and Texas, have

instituted substantial reforms to the civil service

system, such as at-will employment relationships

that aim to increase executive control over public

employees ( Coggburn 2006 ).

Over the past two decades, these at-will employment

initiatives and a wave of other reforms have taken

place, aimed at enhancing the effi ciency of the public

sector and the control that government has over it.

New Public Management and its accompanying

changes have attempted to make public entities func-

tion similar to the private sector. Debureaucratization,

decentralization, and changes in career civil service

have been central themes in this reinventing govern-

ment movement ( Coggburn 2000; Hou et al. 2000;

Kearney and Hays 1998; Kellough 1999; Kellough

and Selden 2003 ). Deregulation of government per-

sonnel administration has been suggested and imple-

mented to alleviate notable concerns in the traditional

civil system, such as undeserved tenure, the rewarding

of seniority rather than merit, and certain diffi culties

associated with employee discipline ( Coggburn 2000 ).

Proponents suggest that at-will employment enhances

governments’ eff orts to make their employees more

accountable for performance and eases legal restraints

on the termination of public employees who are poor

performers or discipline problems. However, concerns

regarding program implementation, job security, work

environment, administrative accountability, and per-

formance of civil service reforms are still being de-

bated as to whether these private sector approaches

off er signifi cant opportunities for government em-

ployers to overcome employee protections under the

civil service system and enhance public sector em-

ployee responsiveness, productivity, and management

( Battaglio and Condrey 2006; Bowman 2002; Bowman

et al. 2003; Condrey 2002; Hays and Sowa 2006;

Kearney and Hays 1998; Kellough 1999; Nigro and

Kellough 2000 ).

Human resource areas of legal concern in the public

sector environment regarding 42 U.S.C. § 1983 are

very similar to those found in the private sector and

often include hiring and promotion processes, disabil-

ity accommodations, and hostile work environment

or retaliation claims. Hiring decisions may subject the

local government employer to allegations of discrimi-

nation based on race, sex, or age. Also, claims of dis-

parate treatment or disparate impact may emerge after

recruitment and selection takes place. Disparate treat-

ment involves intentional discrimination by the em-

ployer that results in improper distinctions among

individuals based on a protected status. Disparate

(adverse) impact is the unintentional discrimination

that arises from employment practices that appear

neutral but adversely aff ect those with protected sta-

tus. Th e overall goal of the local government hiring

process should be to identify and select the applicant

with the most appropriate qualifi cations for the va-

cancy within the municipality. However, just consid-

eration must be given to individuals who fall within

the protected classes established by Title VII of the

Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other acts, including the

1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (see table 1 ).

Affi rmative action also requires that federal govern-

ment agencies and contractors not only refrain from

discriminating against minority individuals in their

employment practices but also take steps to actively

recruit minority individuals for employment ( Kellough

2006 ). Both public and private sector employers are

also liable if discrimination occurs in their promotion,

training, pay, benefi ts, discipline, and termination

processes.

Protection from sexual harassment in the workplace

also falls under Title VII. Sexual harassment is defi ned

by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

as “[u]nwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual

favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sex-

ual nature constitute sexual harassment when this

conduct explicitly or implicitly aff ects an individual’s

employment, unreasonably interferes with an individ-

ual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating,

hostile, or off ensive work environment” ( EEOC

2007 ).

Th is statute applies to employers with 15 or more

employees, including federal, state, and local govern-

ments. Municipalities are expected to encourage and

maintain work environments free of sexual harassment

by implementing no-tolerance policies that are eff ec-

tively communicated to employees, providing sexual

harassment training for employees, establishing a

complaint and grievance process for employees, and

making plans for immediate and appropriate action in

response to employee complaints ( EEOC 2007 ). Both

public and private employers are viewed by the courts

as liable for the sexual harassment actions of their

Employment Laws and the Public Sector Employer 95

employees. In addition to claims

of sexual harassment, allegations of

a hostile work environment may

arise if this conduct interferes with

the employee’s work and creates

an off ensive work environment.

Retaliation may also be charged if

a government employee is treated

diff erently once he or she has

reported an alleged misconduct or

violation of policy by another

government employee or offi cial. Local government

administrators must be very familiar with these legal

rights and protections, or they put themselves at risk

for allegations of discrimination and misconduct in

their human resource policies and actions. Th e follow-

ing section details actual cases that have been fi led

against local governmental entities in the state of

Tennessee by potential, current, and former employees

who have alleged violations of several of these laws

and legal principles.

Case Studies
Th e federal court cases for this research study were

found through a search of Public Access to Court

Records (PACER, http://www.pacer.psc.uscourts.

gov ), which listed more than 350 court cases that

were fi led from 2000 to 2007 against public entities

in Tennessee within the U.S. district court system

and the U.S. court of appeals. Th e search was limited

to cases that alleged employment discrimination in

hiring, promotion, and fi ring; violations of the Fair

Labor Standards Act; and violations of the Americans

with Disabilities Act. 3 Detailed information for

several of these cases was found in a search of Lexis-

Nexis Academic. Th is informa-

tion included the prior history

of the case, opinion, and dis-

position of the court. Th e

lawsuits that are included in

this discussion distinctly illus-

trate several of the legal issues

that local government entities

may encounter in their daily

personnel operations. Both

court decisions in favor of the

municipality and against the municipality are

presented.

Discrimination in Hiring
Numerous cases found during this time period al-

leged discrimination in the hiring, promotion, and

termination decisions of several municipalities in

Tennessee. One individual brought suit against a

municipality under the Americans with Disabilities

Act and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973

alleging that the city had refused to hire him as a

police offi cer because he was infected with the human

immunodefi ciency virus (HIV) ( Holiday v. City of

Chattanooga, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth

Circuit, no. 98-5619, 2000). In this case, the city of

Chattanooga had extended this applicant an employ-

ment off er that was contingent on the passing of a

physical examination required by state statute.

During the physical examination, the potential em-

ployee informed the examining physician that he was

HIV positive. As a result of this disclosure, the

medical examiner concluded that the individual was

not strong enough to withstand the physical require-

ments of the police offi cer position; he advised the

Table 1 Employment Laws and Statues

Laws and Principles Summary

Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, and national origin.
Executive Order 10925 (1961) Prohibits federal government and its contractors from employment discrimination because

of race, creed, color, or national origin and requires that these employers take affi rmative
action in employment practices.

Executive Order 11246 (1965) Prohibits the federal government from contracting with any public entity or private entity
found to have personnel policies that discriminate based on race, color, religion, or
national origin.

Executive Order 11375 (1967) Prohibits sex as a basis of discrimination for the federal government and its contractors.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(1967)

Prohibits employment discrimination of individuals age 40 and over.

Equal Employment Opportunity Act
(1972)

Prohibits discrimination and extends affi rmative action policies to state and local
governments and prohibits discrimination by private sector employers with 15 or more
employees.

Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) Prohibits discrimination in employment based on a known physical or mental impairment
against a qualifi ed individual with a disability.

Older Workers Protection Act (1990) Amendment to Age Discrimination in Employment Act that broadened discrimination to
include distinctions that may be made in employee benefi ts based on age and prohibited
such actions.

Civil Rights Act of 1991 Allows jury trials and compensatory and punitive damages in discrimination cases. Also
alters the burden of proof and other technical aspects of some cases.

Family and Medical Leave Act (1993) Individuals who are determined eligible may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid personal leave
per year for certain medical reasons. After this absence, the covered employee is entitled
to return to the same position or another position that has equal pay, benefi ts, and
working conditions.

Retaliation may . . . be charged
if a government employee is
treated diff erently once he or
she has reported an alleged
misconduct or violation of

policy by another government
employee or offi cial.

96 Public Administration Review • January | February 2009

municipality that this applicant did not pass the

medical examination.

Th e plaintiff had previously passed a written examina-

tion and completed a physical agility test for the city a

year prior to being invited to interview for the open

position. After receipt of the medical examination

report, the administrator of the city’s Department of

Safety decided to withdraw the off er, and the city’s

personnel director informed the applicant that the

municipality could not hire him because other em-

ployees and the public would be put at risk. Th e po-

tential employee fi led suit in the district court alleging

that the city had violated the Americans with Disabili-

ties Act and the Rehabilitation Act by basing this

hiring decision on his HIV status.

Th e U.S. district court granted summary judgment to

the city, noting that it had withdrawn its conditional

off er of employment only because the plaintiff could

not pass the physical examination mandated by state

law, not because of any disability this individual pos-

sessed. Th e court stated that the city had a right to

reasonably rely on the physician’s report as substantive

evidence that the applicant could not meet the physi-

cal requirements of the police offi cer position.

Th e U.S. court of appeals, however, reversed this

decision. Th e appellate court ruled that the district

court had erred in accepting the physician’s report as

dispositive evidence of the individual’s alleged inabil-

ity to perform as a police offi cer. Th e plaintiff had

presented suffi cient evidence to the appellate court

that this physician had failed to complete the indi-

vidualized determination required by the ADA and

had determined the applicant to be unqualifi ed be-

cause of his HIV status. Th e ADA mandates an indi-

vidualized inquiry in determining whether an

employee’s disability or other condition disqualifi es

him or her from a certain position. Th is inquiry must

evaluate the individual’s actual medical condition and

the impact, if any, that this condition may have on the

individual’s ability to perform the requirements of the

position. Th e court of appeals also stated that a ratio-

nal trier of fact could conclude that the municipal

offi cial had withdrawn the employment off er because

of the fear that this individual would transmit the

human immunodefi ciency virus while employed by

the city. As a result of the evidence presented in this

case, the U.S. court of appeals reversed the district

court’s grant of summary judgment on behalf of the

city.

Another suit involving alleged age and sex discrimina-

tion was brought against the city of Cookeville and its

police chief when the city failed to hire a former em-

ployee who had voluntarily resigned from two posi-

tions previously held with the city ( Andrews v. City of

Cookeville, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Cir-

cuit, no. 01-6413, 2003). Th is individual had resigned

the fi rst time when the municipality requested that

the employee move into the city while he was still

attending school in an adjacent community. Th e

employee had resigned a second time to accept a

position as a criminal investigator in a public defend-

er’s offi ce. When the municipality had an opening for

a police offi cer, the plaintiff applied for the position,

passed the written and agility examinations, and was

interviewed. After these three segments of the applica-

tion process were completed, the individual was

ranked eighth and was not off ered employment.

As a result of this hiring decision, the plaintiff brought

suit against the city and its police chief alleging age

and sex discrimination. Th e age discrimination claim

was fi led as a result of a comment made by the police

chief during the applicant’s agility examination, in

which the chief compared this individual to George

Foreman because he did not know when to quit. Th e

sex discrimination claim resulted when the position

was off ered to a female. Th e police chief had allegedly

informed the plaintiff that the female applicant was

hired because she was a qualifi ed female who ranked

close to the top in the interview process. After this

opening was fi lled, the city also hired three additional

offi cers out of the same applicant pool, one of whom

had allegedly scored lower on the oral interview than

the plaintiff . Th e plaintiff claimed to be more quali-

fi ed because of his education, training, and experi-

ence. After hearing the facts of this case, the federal

district court granted the city’s motion for summary

judgment and dismissed the action.

Th e plaintiff appealed the judgment on rejection of

the age discrimination claim to the U.S. court of

appeals. In its review of the decision, the appellate

court found that the district court appeared to have

accepted that the plaintiff had presented enough

evidence to satisfy a prima facie burden for an age

discrimination claim. Th e city argued that the plaintiff

was not qualifi ed for the police offi cer position be-

cause he had been designated ineligible for rehire after

the second resignation of employment from the city.

Both the district and appellate courts rejected the

city’s contention. Th e court of appeals found fault

with the district court because it had only considered

the city’s hiring of the female applicant in its assess-

ment of the city’s nondiscriminatory reason for not

hiring the plaintiff for the position. Th e district court

did not consider the applicant who had scored lower

on the oral interview than the plaintiff but was still

off ered a position with the city, nor did the district

court off er an explanation as to why consideration of

the facts were limited to the female hire. Th e appellant

found fault with this omission and asked the court of

appeals to consider the hiring of the applicant with

the lower oral interview score, the police chief ’s

reference to George

Draft

1.  

How does the organization accommodate the diversity of its workforce? Provide a summary and description of the overall diversity strategy/program/statement. If this is a big organization with multiple strategies and programs for diversity and inclusion, you can pick just one of these programs and focus your analysis on that.

  • Does the organization address racial and ethnic diversity, gender diversity, age diversity, physical ability diversity, LGBTQ+ diversity? How? What other diversity characteristics does the organization address? Provide examples
  • Does the organization have clear diversity strategies and goals? Or are they general statements that can not be easily verified?
  • Does the organization provide evidence of inclusion progress? Or does it focus on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce?

2.  You were hired by the organization to help make it an Inclusive Organization. Based on your finding in section 2 above, please make 2 suggestions to improve the diversity and inclusion plan of this organization. Be creative and reasonable. Justify your suggestions by using references and indicate the anticipated benefits of your suggested changes, new program/policies to their employees, families, the community, and the organization as a whole. Use at least 5 of the course readings to support your suggestions.  

3.  Summarize your analysis. Focus on the most important points.  

draft

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The world has become highly diverse, but many companies have not—especially when it comes to combining
diversity with the inclusive culture needed to truly drive value.

WRITTEN BY

Juliet Bourke, Christie Smith, Heather Stockton & Nicky Wakefield

PUBLISHED

March 7, 2014

Share Subscribe

Many organizations promote diversity while struggling to fully leverage the business benefits of a
diverse workforce.

v

Nearly one-third of respondents to the Human Capital Trends global survey say they are unprepared
in this area, while only 20 percent claim to be fully “ready.”

v

In a recent study, 61 percent of employees report they are “covering” on some personal dimension
(appearance, affiliation, advocacy, association) to assimilate in their organization.

v

1 2

From diversity to inclusion

af

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In 2014, promoting diversity is an expected commitment; like workforce safety, it’s now a ticket

to play. And while unwavering support is claimed, far fewer organizations can talk to the

benefits of diversity beyond the attraction of talent and reputation. Why is that? Surely a focus

on diversity is the way to uncover and optimize talent? Is it focus, effort, a failure to move

diversity from the fringe to the center, or level of difficulty?

One clear factor, according to our global survey, is that only one company in five (20 percent)

believes it is fully “ready” to address this issue. The gap between the urgency of this trend and

companies’ readiness to address it is particularly wide in Japan, South Africa, and China (figure

1).

Why are so many companies falling short? One view is that many companies still treat diversity

primarily as a matter of compliance—a regulatory box to be checked. Not enough organizations

take the next essential steps of creating a work environment that promotes inclusion in all its

variations. Taking a step back from individual organizations to a more country-based analysis,

we can see that most countries do not have a strong sense of readiness and most hover around a

medium sense of urgency.

Using this lens, we see two major themes emerging that can help companies transition from

simply meeting minimum regulatory requirements for diversity to building an inclusive

workplace that inspires all employees to perform at their highest level:

Leading companies are working to build not just a diverse workforce, but inclusive workplaces,
enabling them to transform diversity programs from a compliance obligation to a business strategy.

v

1. Diversity of thinking as a business imperative

2. A focus on inclusion as well as diversity itself

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Explore the report findings
Launch the interactive trends dashboard

Diversity of thinking as a business imperative
Organizations can start by broadening their understanding of diversity to focus not only on the

visible aspects of diversity, such as race, gender, age, and physical ability, but also diversity of

thinking. This means deriving value from people’s different perspectives on problems and

different ways to address solutions. It’s a complex world, it’s a global world, and maximal

participation is required from every workplace participant from the bottom to the top. Thinking

of diversity in this way helps organizations to see value and to be conscious of the risk

associated with homogeneity, especially in senior decision makers. And this means that diversity

is no longer a “program” to be managed—it is a business imperative.

Uncovering talent: A new model of inclusion
An importance advance in thinking about inclusion is the recent work on “uncovering talent”

from Kenji Yoshino, at NYU Law School, and Christie Smith, the head of Deloitte University’s

Leadership Center for Inclusion. Their research suggests that current inclusion initiatives often

implement formal inclusion (that is, “participation”) without recognizing how that inclusion is

predicated on assimilation. In response to pressures to assimilate, individuals downplay their

differences. This behavior is referred to as “covering” and can include how individuals behave

along four dimensions:

3

Appearance: Individuals may blend into the mainstream through their self-presentation,

including grooming, attire, and mannerisms.

v

Affiliation: Individuals may avoid behaviors widely associated with their identity,

culture, or group.

v

Advocacy: Individuals may avoid engaging in advocacy on behalf of their group.v

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Yoshino and Smith’s research reports that covering behaviors are widespread, costly to

individuals and their organizations, and often misaligned with values of inclusion. Organizations

should be interested in covering not because they are “playing defense” against lawsuits, but

because they are “playing offense” to create a more inclusive culture over and above legal

compliance. Most Fortune 500 companies are seeking to create that kind of culture.

Linking diversity of thinking and inclusion
Bringing these two themes together—diversity of thinking and inclusion—we suggest that

organizations consider the importance of diversity when it comes to meeting specific business

objectives:

Association: Individuals may avoid associating with individuals in their own group.v 4

Accessing top talent: Companies should recruit top people from a globally diverse

workforce. The importance of leadership pipelines, the No. 1 priority in our global trends

survey, underscores the importance of broadening leadership pipelines and accelerating

the development of diverse leaders. Given the transparency of the employment “brand”

today, in order to attract the best people, organizations must create a diverse workplace.

When candidates research a prospective employer online, interact as customers, or

interview with the company, they have to feel as if they would “fit” into the work

environment.

v

Driving performance and innovation: A significant body of research shows that

diverse teams are more innovative and perform at higher levels. Companies that build

diversity and inclusion into their teams reap the benefits of new ideas, more debate and,

ultimately, better business decisions.

v

5

Retaining key employees: One reason people leave organizations is that they feel they

no longer “belong.” Or perhaps they feel they will “belong” and thrive in another

organization that appreciates their unique value. A company that fails to create a diverse

and inclusive workplace risks alienating or excluding key employees, who are then more

v

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Diversity is the measure: Inclusion is the mechanism
What this all adds up to is that high-performing organizations recognize that the aim of diversity

is not just meeting compliance targets, but tapping into the diverse perspectives and approaches

each individual employee brings to the workplace. Moving beyond diversity to focus on

inclusion as well requires companies to examine how fully the organization embraces new ideas,

accommodates different styles of thinking (such as whether a person is an introvert or an

extrovert), creates a more flexible work environment, enables people to connect and collaborate,

and encourages different types of leaders.

While nearly one-quarter of executives (23 percent) believe their companies have done an

“excellent” job creating a culture of inclusiveness, and defining what it means (24 percent), the

overwhelming majority rate their effort as “adequate” or “weak.” Clearly, there is much more to

be done to turn the vision of diversity and inclusion into a daily reality (figure 2). Much more

than a focus on programs, this effort needs to focus on cultural change: behaviors, systems and

symbols, and an explicit understanding of the extent and causes of “covering” in organizations.

Research by Deloitte Australia shows that high-performing organizations are characterized by

likely to disengage or eventually leave the organization.

Understanding customers: There’s a thin line between customers and employees, with

current and former employees purchasing their companies’ products and services, acting

as advocates, and sensing customer needs. How better to understand and respond to

diverse customer needs than by tapping into diverse employees? From where we sit, this

is one of the most significant gaps in the diversity story, with the breadth of ideas and

experiences from a more diverse front line falling by the wayside as decisions are made

by more distant, homogenous teams that sometimes fail to fully include diverse

perspectives. In a broad range of industries—including retail, hospitality, food service, oil

and gas, insurance, and even banking—a diverse workforce creates opportunities to

appeal to a more diverse customer base.

v

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their commitment to diversity and a culture of inclusion. In the areas of customer service,

innovation, safety, and more, the message from employees is the same: Organizations that

support diversity and that also make employees feel included are much more likely to meet

business goals than those organizations that focus on diversity and inclusion in isolation (or

focus on neither). The question is, how do you get there?

One essential component of building a strategy of inclusion is recognizing the biases in the way

each of us receives and processes information and the historical biases in our systems of work.

Addressing these processing biases is critical because leaders—as they themselves feel high

levels of inclusion—often do not understand levels of alienation in an organization. Given the

critical importance of retention in our survey, inclusion becomes a key strategy for success.

LESSONS FROM THE FRONT LINES
ADOPTING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION TO
SOLVE A DEMOGRAPHIC MISMATCH
BHP Billiton’s marketing division was highly diverse in terms of gender and ethnicity in non-

executive positions, but there was a demographic mismatch between the global talent pool and

the company’s senior team.

Mike Henry, the president of health, safety, environment, and community, marketing, and

technology, observed this misalignment. He concluded that the only reasonable explanation was

an unconscious bias within the organization and a tendency to do things as they had always been

done—particularly the fact that leading talent was primarily sourced from BHP Billiton’s

traditional hiring bases in Australia, the United Kingdom, North America, South Africa, and the

Netherlands.

Following the closure of BHP Billiton’s marketing office in The Hague—a traditional hub for

recruiting and developing marketing executives—Henry decided to take action to prevent

narrowing the leadership pipeline even further.

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8

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With strong support from the CEO, Henry began seeking out broad-based leadership engagement

and took steps to understand BHP’s unconscious biases. He led by example, taking the Harvard

Implicit Association Test and sharing the results with his team. He aimed to prove his

commitment to diversity and inclusion and show that he could only mitigate his own

unconscious biases by being aware of them first.

Next, Henry had BHP Billiton’s marketing organization conduct an inclusive leadership program

for its top 150 leaders, which included measuring perceptions on diversity and inclusion. The

program involved interactive workshops, storytelling, videos, self-paced activities, homework,

coaching, and reading, all designed to help leaders shift their mindsets and behaviors. And it

broadened the conversation from one about diversity to one about diversity and inclusion, from

demographics to diversity of thinking, and from compliance to business imperative. To help take

this from a program to a sustained focus of attention, Henry appointed a full-time diversity and

inclusion manager to implement change. During a time of downsizing, this was a potent symbol

of the value he placed on diversity and inclusion.

These steps yielded several notable results. Nine months after the first leadership intervention,

88–94 percent of leaders reported that they understood what they needed to do, that they had

changed their behaviors, and that they knew they were accountable for change. Critically, 72–76

percent of staff agreed that their leaders were behaving differently—that is, more respectfully and

inclusively—and that their teams were now more collaborative. In 2013, the program was

expanded to include all leaders and all staff, which was a huge investment of time and energy.

Mindsets have shifted, and while employee statistics have been slow to change, the 2013 results

of BHP Billiton’s marketing organization’s annual “inclusion index” diagnostic reveal that

representation of women and talent from outside the companies’ traditional hiring bases has

increased at leadership levels—a trend that has continued year on year since the first diagnostic

was run in 2011.

WHERE COMPANIES CAN START
Many organizations have not put enough effort into understanding what makes people feel

included. Do employees feel they are known and valued as individuals? Are they well-connected

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to other people in the organization? Are they given a voice in decision making? Is there an

understanding of the types and extent of covering in the organization (appearance, affiliation,

advocacy, association)? In addition to examining these fundamental questions, companies

looking to build a more inclusive workplace should consider the following steps:

BOTTOM LINE

10

Create inclusion labs to help educate leaders about unconscious bias and covering

behaviors: Encourage leaders to honor other people’s opinions and promote constructive

debate. Understand covering biases and behaviors and approaches to changing them.

Leadership drives inclusion; the process should start at the top.

v

Embed diversity and inclusion in leadership pipelines and programs: Include the

diversity and inclusion initiative in leadership development programs, new manager

programs, and talent acquisition programs. Give particular focus to supporting diversity

of thinking—for instance, by selecting people from diverse backgrounds for leadership

development.

v

Conduct a gap analysis of talent systems and processes: How is the principle of merit-

based decision making transparently embedded into systems, from recruitment,

remuneration, and training to career development opportunities and succession? Review

the outputs of these decisions in terms of equity, such as via a pay equity audit.

v

Develop a diversity and inclusion scorecard and measure business impact: Hold

leaders and managers accountable and identify outliers in the diversity and inclusion

initiative.

v

Install governance and resource the effort appropriately: Create a council with

representatives from different parts of the business that is properly resourced to be a

change agent.

v

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WRITTEN BY

Juliet Bourke
Deloitte Consulting Pte Ltd

Juliet Bourke leads the Australian Diversity and Inclusion practice and co-leads the Australian Leadership
practice. She has over 20 years’ experience in human capital and is an internationally recognized author and
speaker on the workplace, cultural change, leadership, and diversity. Bourke is a member of the Australian
firm’s diversity council and sits on the Australian School of Business’s HR advisory board.

Christie Smith
Deloitte Consulting LLP

Diversity is not a program or a marketing campaign to recruit staff. Thinking of diversity in this way
relegates it to its compliance-driven origins. A diverse workforce is a company’s lifeblood, and diverse
perspectives and approaches are the only means of solving complex and challenging business issues.
Deriving the value of diversity means uncovering all talent, and that means creating a workplace
characterized by inclusion. Our research shows that most organizations are not there yet, but change is in the
wind, and market leaders are starting to move from compliance to inclusion as a business strategy.

Endnotes

Kenji Yoshino and Christie Smith, Uncovering talent: A new model of inclusion, Deloitte

Development LLC, December 6, 2013, http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-

UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/us_LLC_Deloitte_UncoveringTalent_121713.pdf. Back to

article

1.

View all endnotes s

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Christie Smith has spent the last 24 years consulting, focusing on aligning business strategy with
organizational structure, talent, leadership development, and global workforce planning. She recently drove the
formation of Deloitte’s collaboration with the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) to spur
bioscience innovation and convert that innovation into a catalyst for jobs, companies, and better health. Smith
is one of Diversity Journal’s 2013 “Women to Watch.”

Heather Stockton
Human Capital leader
Deloitte Canada

Heather Stockton is global Human Capital leader for the financial services industry. She is a member of the
board in Deloitte Canada and chair of the talent and succession committee. Through her work in developing
and executing strategic plans, Stockton has become an advisor to executives who are undertaking business
transformation, merger integration, and changing their operating model. She has extensive experience in talent
strategy and leadership development for leaders and boards.

Nicky Wakefield
Human Capital leader, Deloitte Southeast Asia
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu

Nicky Wakefield is an experienced leader and advisor working primarily on large-scale, complex
transformation programs. She started her career in consulting in 1995 after completing her MBA in
organizational strategy and change. Educated as an economist, Wakefield transitioned to human capital after
beginning a diploma in psychotherapy and developing a real passion for human performance. She has lived and
worked in Australia, the United States, Singapore, Brunei, Zimbabwe, England, and the Netherlands.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Contributors: Stacia Garr, Jackie Scales

From diversity to inclusion: Move from compliance to diversity
as a business strategy
Published March 7, 2014

Cover Image by Alex Nabaum

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draft

https://doi.org/10.1177/0734371X19865009

Review of Public Personnel Administration
2021, Vol. 41(1) 105 –131

© The Author(s) 2019
Article reuse guidelines:

sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/0734371X19865009

journals.sagepub.com/home/rop

Article

Gender, Race, and Diversity
Values Among Local
Government Leaders

Mary K. Feeney1 and Leonor Camarena1

Abstract
Despite the increased emphasis placed on diversity and inclusion, there is relatively
little research that focuses on diversity values in small and medium-sized cities.
This research uses data from a 2016 nationally representative survey to investigate
how city department leaders’ perceptions of their organizations valuing diversity
are related to the identity of the department head, the mayor, and the community.
We find that women and people of color are underrepresented in city department
leadership. Reporting that one’s organization values racial and gender diversity is
significantly related to respondent gender, respondent race (for women), mayoral
race (for women), and diversity in the community (for men), and that the interaction
of mayoral and community identity is related to perceived diversity values. We
conclude with a discussion of what these findings mean for diversity and inclusion in
practice in local government departments, which often lack demographic diversity.

Keywords
diversity, gender, workplace culture, local government, values

Introduction

In 2016, women accounted for 20% of mayors and 25.8% of department heads in
medium and small cities in the United States (e.g., populations 250,000-25,000); 17%
of mayors were people of color.1 Although women and people of color are generally
well integrated into the modern labor American workforce, they remain underrepre-
sented in higher level management. Organizations are the creation of the people they

1Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA

Corresponding Author:
Mary K. Feeney, Professor and Lincoln Professor of Ethics in Public Affairs, Center for Science,
Technology & Environmental Policy Studies, Arizona State University, University Center, Suite 400,
411 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA.
Email: mkfeeney@asu.edu

865009ROPXXX10.1177/0734371X19865009Review of Public Personnel AdministrationFeeney and Camarena
research-article2019

106 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

embody (Hutchinson, 2011); thus, when organizations are led by homogeneous
groups, they are less likely to embody multiple values, perspectives, and diverse inter-
ests. In all levels of government, when the lower ranks of the civil service are made up
of women and people of color and men and White men dominate the upper levels,
equal opportunity to influence government is undermined (Wise, 1990). This is espe-
cially problematic in local government where federal hiring programs do not apply
and where government most closely interacts with the public.

A lack of diversity in leadership inevitably shapes the culture of the public sector
and its effective delivery of public services to diverse communities. Public organiza-
tions that lack diversity are more likely to undervalue inclusion and engage in actions
such as self-selection away from diversity in recruitment and discrimination in hiring
(Baekgaard & George, 2018). Demographic diversity in the upper levels of public
organizations leads to more progressive policies aimed at diversity and inclusion
through the organization; women and people of color in leadership serve as a model
for others aspiring to leadership (AbouAssi, Bauer, & Johnston, 2019; Riccucci, 2002).
Since the 1960s, affirmative action (AA) programs, Equal Employment Opportunity
(EEO) policies, and diversity management strategies have aimed to advance diversity
in government organizations (Pitts, 2009; Rosenbloom, 1977). Recently, there has
been an emerging focus on creating a climate that welcomes and appropriately man-
ages diversity (Bae, Sabharwal, Smith, & Berman, 2017; Gonzalez & Denisi, 2009;
Oberfield, 2016).

Diversity research is loosely concentrated in three areas: inclusion and integration,
diversity policies and programs, and diversity effects (Pitts, 2006). Thomas (1990)
was the first to focus on the concept of “valuing diversity,” an intermediary between
the progression of AA and EEO programs and diversity management. Valuing diver-
sity in the workplace is often seen as an organizational focus that encourages employ-
ees to value diversity through bulletins, newsletters, workshops, and team building
(Pitts, 2006). Although legal mandates emphasize employing people of particular
identities, there is little research on the perceptions that government leaders have about
diversity norms and values. This research is motivated by the following research
questions:

Research Question 1: Do city department leaders perceive their organizations as
valuing gender and racial diversity?
Research Question 2: How are the characteristics and identity of the department
head, mayor, and community related to gender and racial diversity values?

Diversity is an important aspect of government organizations from two perspec-
tives: management and governance (Blessett, Alkadry, & Rubaii, 2013). Managing
diversity is important for administrators that work in diverse organizations. Research
finds when organizations manage diversity well, women report higher levels of job
satisfaction (Choi & Rainey, 2014) and organizations can increase productivity (Naff
& Kellough, 2003). Governance considers the interactions of administrators with
multiple stakeholders in different environments (Blessett et al., 2013)—seeking to

Feeney and Camarena 107

govern for inclusion in a diverse work environment where different stakeholders have
distinct needs. Managing and governing diversity enhances organizational effective-
ness and organizational productivity and can provide organizations with a broad
range of ideas, skills, and insights (Cox, 1994; Ely, 2004; Wiersema & Bantel, 1992).
Organizations with a culture where managers are committed to diversity can increase
job satisfaction, innovative behavior, and work group performance (Moon, 2018;
Pitts, 2009).

The theory of representative bureaucracy argues diversity matters for leadership in
public agencies and that bureaucracy should reflect the diversity of its citizenry
(Kellough & Naff, 2004). Gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in bureaucracies are
expected to translate to policies and programs that target or benefit women and people
of color in the general population (Riccucci, Van Ryzin, & Lavena, 2014). Some gov-
ernment agencies have introduced diversity management programs to increase hetero-
geneity (Choi & Rainey, 2014; Wise & Tschirhart, 2000) and develop a climate and
culture that is committed to the inclusion of diverse individuals (Bae et al., 2017;
Oberfield, 2016). Although formal equal opportunity hiring programs have been in
effect for decades and there is a preponderance of evidence that representation matters
and a diverse climate is valuable for organizations (Gonzalez & Denisi, 2009), women
and people of color remain underrepresented in government leadership and little is
known about how local governments value diversity. For our purposes, diversity val-
ues are defined as a department administrator’s awareness that diversity is permitted
to flourish, broadly encompassing inclusion and integration, diversity policies and
programs, and diversity effects.

This research examines whether the social identity of city department leaders and
political leadership (e.g., mayors) is related to perceptions of diversity values in their
organizations—including the hiring and advancement of women and people of color.
We analyze how the gender and racial and ethnic identity of city department leaders,
mayors, and communities are related to diversity values in city departments. We use
data from a 2016 nationally representative survey of 500 small and medium-sized cit-
ies, U.S. Census data, and data collected from government websites. We describe the
proportion of women and people of color in municipal leadership positions across the
500 cities and contribute to the broader diversity research in government by illustrat-
ing how individual identity and representation are related to perceptions of diversity
values in municipal government. We conclude with a discussion of next steps to move
beyond counting demographics to assessing social identity, diversity values, and
inclusive practice.

Diversity and Social Identity

Public organizations, compared to private organizations, tend to have more diverse
employee populations in terms of race, sex, and age. Many suggest this is the result of
a commitment to increasing workforce diversity by recruiting, hiring, and retaining
employees with different backgrounds (Cornwell & Kellough, 1994; Foldy, 2004).
Although women and people of color have made gains in government employment in

108 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

the United States, there remain a host of discriminatory practices and biases (Riccucci,
2002). Despite broader organizational shifts in programs and policies committed to
diversity, recent research on a sample of U.S. federal employees indicates white men
are more likely to report a diversity climate while minority men and women indicate
their organizations are less committed to diversity (Oberfield, 2016).

Recruitment is a central focus across diversity management programs (Kellough &
Naff, 2004). Unfortunately, programs and efforts to recruit diverse individuals have
led to perceptions of reverse discrimination and are often viewed with disdain by
employees who feel threatened by them or feel that they are unfair (Pitts, 2006).
Riccucci (1997) found that many white male employees believe anything associated
with diversity is reverse discrimination. Thus, recruitment programs alone are insuf-
ficient at building a culture that values diversity. Valuing diversity requires individuals
to feel their identity is welcomed, safe, and acceptable in the organization.

According to social identity theory (SIT), people classify themselves and others into
social categories defined by organizational membership, religious affiliation, gender,
race, ethnicity, age cohort, and so on (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Social classification
enables an individual to locate or define themselves in the social environment (Ashforth
& Mael, 1989) and leads to varying perceptions of likeness and difference in social
identification. This identification can describe or reinforce structural barriers, for exam-
ple, women and people of color often face institutional and structural barriers to
advancement (Riccucci, 2002). Often these barriers relate to subtle assumptions, atti-
tudes, and stereotypes. Perceptions of differences in divisions of labor, racism, decades
of formal and informal discrimination, power relations, and cultural symbolism can
leave women and people of color in lower paying and lower status jobs (Connell, 2006;
Miller, Kerr, & Reid, 1999; Riccucci, 2002), which may affect their views of the orga-
nization’s commitment to and valuing of diversity. These diversity values—perceptions
of gender and racial diversity—are linked to perspectives, attitudes, and experiences
that diverse individuals bring to government agencies. In the US, social identity and
classification often occurs by gender and race (Riccucci, 2002). For women, identity
can be specified as perceived similarity to other women, the perception of common fate
(i.e., a belief that women are treated similarly based on their group membership; Gurin
& Townsend, 1986). Similarly, race and ethnicity can be an identified commonality for
group status. Racial and ethnic identity can result in empowerment or marginalization,
access to or exclusion from power, and the development of individual and collective
perceptions, stereotypes, and identities (Ospina & Foldy, 2009).

The self-identification of an individual into a social group leads to perceptions of
in-group stereotypes and perceptions of out-group members that lead to out-group
stereotypes (Hogg, Terry, & White, 1995). Identifying with particular in-groups or out-
groups can lead to intergroup behavior that brings competitive and discriminatory
properties to the nature of group relations (Hogg et al., 1995). For example, high-status
group members will be motivated to preserve their dominance if they perceive it to be
legitimate (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Because men hold higher status in society, they
would, on average, be expected to exhibit positive attitudes and supportive behavior
toward other men, as members of their in-group, and treat women negatively as the

Feeney and Camarena 109

out-group (Tolbert, Graham, & Andrews, 1999). Similarly, as White people in the
United States have higher socioeconomic status, they will be more likely to support
in-group members and treat those in racial or ethnic out-groups negatively. Thus, self-
identification and perceptions of in- and out-group status in organizations are related
to perceptions of and efforts aimed at valuing diversity. We focus on two forms of
diversity values, gender and race and ethnicity.

Gender

We explore the relationship between the gender identity of city department heads and
their reports of their organizations’ diversity values. On one hand, research shows
that leadership values and styles in the public sector differ by gender and matter for
gendered outcomes (Feeney & Langer, 2016; Jacobson, Palus, & Cynthia, 2010;
Meier, Toole, & Goerdel, 2006). Female leaders are more inclusive and engage
broader participation (Weikart, Chen, Williams, & Hromic, 2007). Gender diversity
in government can increase organizational performance, perception of trust and fair-
ness, inclusion, job satisfaction, and lower turnover intention and empowerment for
women (AbouAssi et al., 2019; Andrews & Ashworth, 2015; Choi & Rainey, 2014;
Moynihan & Landuyt, 2008; Riccucci et al., 2014). Women report higher levels of
commitment to equal opportunity (Guy, 1993), and employees perceive that women-
led federal agencies outperform those run by men (D’Agostino, 2015). It follows that
women can lead city departments toward a culture that values diversity and
inclusion.

On the other hand, given the low proportion of women in political and managerial
leadership in city government, women department heads might perceive themselves
and be perceived as the out-group and feel pressure not to engage in gendered leader-
ship. For example, Weikart and colleagues (2007) found female mayors were more
likely to report that they faced gender-based obstacles in their leadership roles, and
Guy (2016) reported that when women hold a minority of decision-making positions
within organizations it creates a cycle of problems associated with tokenism. Naff
(1995b) found that women who work in male-dominated agencies as compared to
those who work in female-dominated agencies are more likely to believe women are
discriminated against. A recent Pew survey found women in male-dominated work-
places are more likely to say their gender has made it harder for them to get ahead at
work, they are less likely to say women are treated fairly in personnel matters, and
they report experiencing gender discrimination at significantly higher rates (Funk &
Parker, 2018). Women in gender-balanced or majority-female workplaces report
higher levels of gender equity and lower levels of gender discrimination (Funk &
Parker, 2018; Naff, 1995b).

Thus, while female leaders may be strongly committed to diversity, they are also
more likely to have experienced bias and obstacles in their own advancement, poten-
tially making them more sensitive to and critical of the organization’s commitment to
these issues. In addition, even in leadership positions, women remain the out-group in
these male-dominated organizations. Given this reasoning, the expectation is that

110 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

female leaders will report lower levels of diversity values in their organizations as
compared to their male counterparts.

Hypothesis 1 (H1): Female leaders, as compared to male leaders, will report lower
diversity values in their departments.

Race and Ethnicity

There is extensive evidence that people of color face substantial structural and institu-
tional barriers to advancement in the workforce, including lower pay, micro aggres-
sions, barriers to powerful networks, overt racism, discrimination, stereotyping, and
prejudice (Combs, 2003; Ferdman & Cortes, 1992; Holvino & Blake-Beard, 2004).
Governments have adopted numerous policies and programs aimed at eliminating dis-
crimination and promoting diversity hiring and retention (Rosenbloom, 1973;
Rosenbloom & Berry, 1978). One might expect that individuals who have benefited
directly from efforts and policies to reduce discrimination will be more sensitive to the
need for advancing diversity values.

Yet, people of color continue to be clustered at lower ranks in government organi-
zations and underrepresented in leadership positions (Sanchez-Hucles & Sanchez,
2007). Research notes that broad equitable employment for minorities in the public
sector is related to their representation on city councils, in key bureaucratic decision-
making positions (Sass & Mehay, 2003), and overall representation in the population
(Eisinger, 1982). This suggests that department heads might be in a key position to
advance diversity values.

The research on leadership and race and ethnicity presents a set of complex
findings—often because of methodological limitations, differences across and between
racial and ethnic groups, and variation in the ways in which individuals and groups
characterize and respond to power differentials and opportunities for empowerment
(Ospina & Foldy, 2009). For example, Abney and Hutcheson (1981) found that fol-
lowing the election of a black mayor, identification with city government among
blacks increased. Fraga, Meier, and England (1986) concluded that Hispanic represen-
tation on school boards impacted Hispanic teacher employment and educational out-
comes. However, Cook and Glass (2014) concluded that minority leaders have a
limited effect on equitable policies, but their leadership combined with diverse boards
increases equitable practices.

Leader racial identity can drive outcomes for minority stakeholders and the public,
but does it affect culture and values? Oberfield (2016) examined perceptions of a
diversity climate among employees with diverse managers and found a negative rela-
tionship between minority representativeness of managers and diversity climate,
though White respondents primarily drove this relationship. Oberfield concluded
diversity in management is insufficient to create a positive diversity climate for out-
group members. We expect that as the out-group in predominately white organiza-
tions, leaders of color will be especially sensitive to the barriers they face (or have

Feeney and Camarena 111

faced) and the need for an increased focus on diversity values. Thus, they will report
lower diversity values in the organizations they lead.

Hypothesis 2 (H2): Leaders of color, as compared to White leaders, will report
lower diversity values in their departments.

Intersectionality

Although demographic measures of social identity are useful for empirical purposes,
they should not be interpreted to suggest that gender, race, and ethnicity can be reduced
to simple variables. Public administration research on gender and racial diversity is
often criticized for a reliance on simple measures without a focus on intersectionality
(Sabharwal, Levine, & Agostino, 2018). Intersectionality refers to how multiple mar-
ginal and socially constructed identities converge within a single social group (Breslin,
Pandey, & Riccucci, 2017). Intersectionality interrogates the hierarchies and structures
that are in place that inform and produce categorical differences (MacKinnon, 2013).
Research on identity groups and intergroup theory notes that groups defined by com-
mon biology or historical and social experience, and some combination of the two can
result in different experiences in the workplace.

Organizational activities aimed at advancing intergroup relations and diversity val-
ues have different ramifications for each group and for those in intersecting groups
(Kossek & Zonia, 1993). Perceptions of diversity values and climate will be condi-
tioned by group membership and intergroup relations—white women will experience
the organization differently than white men, blacks will experience the organization
differently than whites, and those at the intersection (black women) will have a differ-
ent reference for group membership than white women and black men. While white
women and racioethnic minority men and women are likely to hold similar views
about the dominance of white men, and be expected to cooperate against the status
quo, they do not necessarily value diversity efforts in the same way and there is the
possibility of intergroup competition within these groups (Alderfer, 1987). For exam-
ple, Kossek and Zonia (1993) found valuing diversity varies by gender, race, and the
interaction of the two. Mor Barak and colleagues (1998) found that compared to White
men, women and racial/ethnic minorities were more comfortable with and value diver-
sity in their organizations. There are positive, cooperative links between different
groups, though competition and rivalry is also present. Mor Barak and colleagues
(1998) concluded that men perceive organizational diversity more favorably than
women, possibly because they do not experience or participate in creating these barri-
ers. Similarly, whites perceived the organization as fair, while racial minorities reported
discrimination. Minorities were more comfortable with diversity than whites were.
They conclude that threats from diversity efforts for men as compared to women are
differently perceived than threats and opportunities across racial/ethnic groups (Mor
Barak et al., 1998) and that women of racial/ethnic minority groups felt more excluded
than those of one group.

112 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

Research is clear that group identity matters and that gender group identity is dif-
ferent from racial/ethnic group identity. For example, women of color experience the
collective perceptions and stereotypes of their racial identity intertwined with their
gender identity—an intersection that is quite distinct from the experiences of men of
color, white women, or the summation of the two. Given previous research on inter-
sectionality, we expect that women of color in city government who experience the
out-group status of gender and race will report lower diversity values in their
organizations.

Hypothesis 3 (H3): Female leaders of color—as compared to white men, white
women, and men of color—will report lower diversity values in their departments.

Community Diversity

The existence of a diverse bureaucracy can translate into benefits for the citizenry
without direct actions by bureaucrats (Gade & Wilkins, 2013; Riccucci, 2017). The
demographic characteristics of bureaucrats can passively produce political respon-
siveness and policy effectiveness that are favorable to the community (Fernandez,
Malatesta, & Smith, 2013; Fraga & Elis, 2009). In addition, public perceptions about
bureaucratic legitimacy can be positively affected when the identity of the bureaucrat
matches that of the clientele (Gade & Wilkins, 2013; Meier & Nicholson-Crotty, 2006;
Riccucci et al., 2014).

The public administration literature has reached a consensus that race and ethnicity
is perhaps the most important demographic characteristic for comparing bureaucratic
and public representation in the United States (Meier, 1975; Selden & Selden, 2001).
The distribution of tangible benefits and economic goods to minority communities can
be tied to that group’s political power (Eisinger, 1982). For example, Hispanic repre-
sentation on school boards is a significant determinant of student performance (Fraga
et al., 1986), and the presence of a Latino or African American mayor is significantly
related to minority police officer employment (Zhao, He, & Lovrich, 2005).

The size of a minority population in a city is related to the proportion of representa-
tion that demographic group has in municipal workforces, and this representation
translates into outcomes for those racial and ethnic groups (Fraga & Elis, 2009; Fraga
et al., 1986; Stein, 1986; Zhao et al., 2005). Cities with larger African American popu-
lations have more minority city council members and mayors, which in turn increases
equitable hiring and promotion practices (Saltzstein, 1989; Walker & Bumphus, 1992).
Research finds Black political empowerment, measured by having a Black mayor, is a
consistent positive predictor of representation of Black police officers in U.S. cities
(Saltzstein, 1989; Sass & Mehay, 2003; Zhao et al., 2005). In sum, racially diverse
communities are more likely to have diverse political and bureaucratic representation
and increased political engagement from minority groups (Spence, McClerking, &
Brown, 2009). We expect that diversity values in the bureaucracy will be related to
heterogeneity in local communities. Specifically, managers working in more racially

Feeney and Camarena 113

and ethnically diverse communities will report increased diversity values in their
departments.

Hypothesis 4 (H4): Racially diverse communities will be positively related to
diversity values in city departments.

Political Leadership

Leader gender, race, and ethnicity influence agency performance, citizen trust, and
political engagement. Differences in leadership are partially explained by self-catego-
rization, identity, in-group and out-group status, and social expectations. For example,
women in management roles tend to be more collaborative, and their presence has an
impact on policy outcomes and organizational performance (Meier et al., 2006).
Women city managers are more likely to include citizen input, facilitate communica-
tion, and encourage citizen involvement in their decision-making processes (Fox &
Schuhmann, 1999).

Women in political leadership can affect policy and bureaucratic structures. Women
legislators are more likely to initiate legislation on women’s issues (Saint-Germain,
1989), and female mayors emphasize different policy issues, seek broader participa-
tion, and are more inclusive than male mayors (Weikart et al., 2007). Having a women
mayor increases the number of women in municipal employment (Ferreira & Gyourko,
2011; Saltzstein, 1986). Given the extensive research indicating that female-elected
officials influence organizations differently than men, we expect that valuing gender
diversity will be related to visible female political leadership in the city.

Hypothesis 5 (H5): Having a female mayor will be positively related to diversity
values in city departments.

Similarly, a person of color in political leadership can affect organizational out-
comes, trust in government, and employment and representation in the bureaucracy.
Political leaders who present as African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American,
or another minority racial or ethnic group are often expected to better represent, advo-
cate for, and advance the interests of their respective communities (Eisinger, 1982;
Fraga & Elis, 2009; Mladenka, 1989; Saltzstein, 1989; Stein, 1986). Research indi-
cates that when people of color hold political office, community members of that same
racial or ethnic group are able to identify with a visible political actor which in turn
increases positive perceptions of and trust in government, levels of empowerment, and
political engagement (Abney & Hutcheson, 1981; Bobo & Gilliam, 1990).

The lack of minorities in high-level leadership positions in municipal government
is presumably a block to the representation of minorities in government (Meier, 1975;
Thompson, 1976), leading many to argue that in addition to serving as visual role
models to organizational members and the community at large, leaders of color can
alter the demographics of the city’s workforce (Marschall & Shah, 2007). Mayoral

114 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

race and ethnicity can be an important predictor of political empowerment and partici-
pation, trust in government, distribution of resources throughout the community, and
municipal workforce diversity (Abney & Hutcheson, 1981; Marschall & Shah, 2007;
Spence et al., 2009), but these findings vary by city demographics, leadership race and
ethnicity, and other factors (Kerr, Miller, Schreckhise, & Reid, 2013). Given previous
findings, we hypothesize that diversity values will be related to visible diverse politi-
cal leadership in the community.

Hypothesis 6 (H6): Having a mayor of color will be positively related to diversity
values in city departments.

Intersectionality adopts a distinctive stance, “where systems of race, gender, and
class domination converge” (Crenshaw, 1991, p. 1246), and where awareness is on
people and experiences (MacKinnon, 2013). Intersectionality suggests that the pro-
cesses of racialization and gendering are specific yet interrelated (Hawkesworth,
2006). Racialization may produce marked commonalities between men and women of
dominant race and ethnic groups and of disadvantage among men and women of the
subordinate race and ethnic groups. Gendering may produce commonalities (styliza-
tion of the body, voice intonations and inflections, interests, aspirations) among
women across race and ethnic groups and among men across race and ethnic groups
(Hawkesworth, 2006). Race and gendering are active processes where identities of
women of color are constituted through practices that construct them as “other” (to
White women, men of color, and White men; Hawkesworth, 2006). Studies of elected
women of color consistently document forms of marginalization, including stereotyp-
ing and lack of institutional responsiveness to the policies advanced by women of
color (Bratton & Haynie, 1999; Swain, 2000). Given the extensive research on how
intersectionality changes the experiences and perceptions of individuals, we hypothe-
size that diversity values will be related to visible intersectional political leadership in
the community.

Hypothesis 7 (H7): Having a female mayor of color will be positively related to
diversity values in city departments.

Data and Method

The hypotheses are tested using data from the 2016 National Study of Technology Use
in Government condu

draft

Addressing Race in the Workplace:
Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Item Type Article

Authors DiMillo, Victoria; Brown, Alexis; Harrington, Brad

Publication Date 2021-05

Abstract Global companies realize the strength that comes from recruiting
and retaining a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive
workplace. Diversity encompasses many visible and invisible
aspects of identity, but in 2021, it is clear that race continues…

Keywords inclusion; diversity; diverse workforce; systemic racism;
workplaces; Race; Equity; Corporations; Social Inclusion; Cultural
Diversity

Citation Millo, V., Brown, A. & Harrington, B. ( 2021). Addressing Race in
the Workplace: Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Boston
College Center for Work & Family: Executive Briefing Series

Publisher Boston College Center for Work and Family

Rights Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Download date 15/06/2021 01:45:04

Item License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Link to Item http://hdl.handle.net/10713/15730

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Addressing Race in the
Workplace: Advancing
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Global companies realize the strength that comes from recruiting
and retaining a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive
workplace. Diversity encompasses many visible and invisible
aspects of identity, but in 2021, it is clear that race continues to
be an issue of particular concern. While many White Americans
believe the United States to be a post-racial society, citing such
events as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s or the election
of the first African-American president in 2008, tensions and
inequalities persist. The events of 2020 made clear what people
of color have always known; society has not come as far as many
Americans believe. Recent events have highlighted the ways that
centuries of systemic racism continue to shape our society, from
our schools to our neighborhoods to our workplaces.

At the end of 2018, less than half of the companies in the S&P
500 had a Chief Diversity Officer or similar position, according to
a study by Russell Reynolds. With the economy in flux and the
future unknown, many companies are struggling to stay afloat
and may not have the financial or management resources
necessary to dedicate to diversity programs. And yet, most
recognize that diversity and inclusion efforts must remain a
business imperative. This paper focuses on the state of diversity
in the workplace, the organizational impediments to
implementing inclusive policies, and suggestions for building and
maintaining diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.

The State of Diversity in the Workplace

– 1 –

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S

IN THIS ISSUE
► The State of Diversity in the

Workplace

► The Business Case for Racial
Diversity

► Challenges to Developing a
Culture of Inclusion

► Effective Recruitment Strategies
and Practices

► Effective Retention Strategies
and Practices

► Corporate Best Practices

AUTHORED BY

Victoria DiMillo
Asst. Director, Member Services
BC Center for Work & Family

Alexis Brown, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist and Work Life
Practitioner

Prof. Brad Harrington
Executive Director
BC Center for Work & Family

CONTRIBUTING ORGANIZATIONS

Chubb

Dot Foods

PwC

TD Bank

CONTRIBUTING BCCWF STAFF

Jennifer Sabatini Fraone
Director of Corporate Partnerships

US Population by Race

Source: Census Bureau

Non-Hispanic White
60.5%

Hispanic or Latino
18.6%

Black or
African American

13.5%

Asian
5.9%

Native American
1.3%

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

With each passing year, the US population grows more diverse, and Pew
Research Center predicts that Generation Z will be the most diverse in US
history. While 60% of the general population are non-Hispanic Whites,
only 52% percent of those born after 1996 are. These shifting
demographics will impact the workforce and drive the increasing need for
diversity and inclusion initiatives.

The current composition of the workforce does not reflect the United
States’ increasing diversity. White people are consistently
overrepresented at all levels of US corporations, an inequity that only
increases as one moves up in the organizational hierarchy.

– 2 –

41% attrition
rate for women

Beyond Demographics:
The Business Case for Racial Diversity
Many businesses today operate in an increasingly global context, and
organizations must acclimate rapidly to the demands of a dynamic,
diverse, and global world. Business leaders must understand and
embrace diversity as a key competency in order to operate effectively.
Diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environments generate a
competitive advantage for companies across multiple dimensions, but
their creation is not a short term undertaking. True change requires a
long-term commitment at all levels of the organization. Diversity, equity,
and inclusion must be codified as organizational values and their benefits
must be widely communicated, understood, and appreciated.

THE LANGUAGE OF DIVERSITY AND
INCLUSION

Diversity: psychological, physical, and
social differences that occur among any
and all individuals; including but not
limited to race, ethnicity, nationality,
religion, socioeconomic status, education,
marital status, language, age, gender,
sexual orientation, mental or physical
ability, and learning styles.

Inclusion: the act of creating
environments in which any individual or
group feels welcomed, respected,
supported, and valued to fully participate
and bring their authentic selves to work.
Inclusion brings traditionally excluded
individuals and/or groups into processes,
activities, and decision/policy making in a
way that shares power. Organizations
often assume the inclusion of diverse
individuals.

Belonging: addresses the fundamental
human need of social belonging, the lack
of which can lead to lower organizational
commitment and engagement. Many D&I
training programs miss the mark because
they neglect the human need to feel
included.

Equity: the guarantee of fair treatment,
access, opportunity, and advancement
while at the same time striving to identify
and eliminate barriers that have
prevented the full participation of some
groups. Equity acknowledges that there
are historically underserved and
underrepresented populations, and that
correcting these unbalanced conditions
assists equality in the provision of
effective opportunities to all groups.

Implicit bias: implicit biases reside
beneath our level of awareness and affect
our understanding, actions, and decisions.
These biases can result in feelings and
attitudes about others based on
characteristics such as race, ethnicity,
gender, age, and appearance. These
associations develop over the course of a
lifetime through exposure to direct and
indirect messages. Implicit biases predict
behavior in the real world and tend to
favor one’s own ingroup.

In the C-suite, only 14% of positions are held by people of color, and
women of color hold only 4% (Agovino, 2020). In 2018, the US Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission reported that Black professionals
held just 3.3% of all executive or senior leadership roles, and only five of
the Fortune 500 companies in 2020 had Black chief executives (Sahadi,
2020). This lack of representation leaves people of color feeling skeptical
of ever achieving a top job at their organization. As a result, many people
of color stall in their careers or leave organizations altogether.

Source: SHRM (2020)

65%
White

81% 86%

32%
Non-white 19% 14%

Workplace composition by race

Entry
Level

Vice
President

C-Suite

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Improved financial performance. Organizations with diverse executive
teams were up to 33% more likely to financially outperform their
less-diverse competitors, whereas companies in the fourth quartile on
both gender and ethnic diversity were more likely to underperform their
industry peers on profitability by 29% (McKinsey & Co., 2018).

Increased innovation and creativity. Diversity is crucial for innovation.
Heterogeneous workforces yield better performances than
homogenous ones because diversity enhances creativity and
encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading
to better decision making, improved problem solving, and higher-quality
outcomes (Phillips, 2014).

Increased organizational engagement and decreased organizational
costs. US businesses spend nearly $8 billion each year on diversity and
inclusion trainings that fail because they neglect the human need to feel
included. Forty percent of people say they feel isolated at work, which
results in lower organizational commitment and engagement.

Decreased attrition and turnover costs. The failure to create an inclusive
and equitable workplace environment can increase attrition among
employees of color, which drives up turnover costs. Research indicates
that more than one in three Black employees intend to leave their
current organization within two years as a result of prejudice and
microaggressions. Furthermore, Black employees are 30% more likely to
intend to leave than White employees are (Coqual, 2019).

Demand from customers. Today’s consumers demand ethical
leadership from corporations and are adept at discerning when ethical
statements are substantive. This demand for action is increasingly led by
younger Millennials and Generation Z. These generations vocally hold
corporations responsible for their response, or lack thereof, to myriad
ethical issues that arise. They seek out companies that act pro-socially
or ethically and sometimes boycott corporations that do not.

The moral imperative. While the statistics presented here are
compelling, much of the financial business case for diversity relies on
correlation, not causation. Ely & Thomas (2020) contend that the
business case is incomplete without acknowledging the moral
imperative of human dignity. Increasing diversity without adequately
confronting inequities and willingly reshaping power structures will not
produce these financial benefits. Furthermore, overemphasizing
economic payoffs can alienate people from underrepresented groups,
who are left feeling exploited by the organization. Moving from a
financial business case to a moral one requires commitment and strong
alignment with corporate values.

– 3 –

BUSINESS CASE FOR RACIAL DIVERSITY

Inclusive work environments lead to
increased belonging, which is linked to…

Have publicly
committed to
racial/ethnic

equality

Offer programs
specifically for

women of color

27%
35%

More than 1 in 3 Black employees intend
to leave within 2 years

Source: Coqual, 2019

Black White

$52M
Potential annual savings

for a 10,000 person company

Job
performance

Turnover
Risk Sick Days

Source: Carr et al., 2019

+56%

-50% -75%

Organizations with greater ethnic diversity
among executives are more likely than less

diverse peers to outperform average
industry profitability

(national industry median EBIT %)

Executive ethnic diversity by quartile
Top Bottom

Source: McKinsey & Co., 2018

2017
33% more likely

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Challenges to Developing a Culture of Inclusion

Changing the culture at its core requires a long-term commitment. Beyond the financial cost of culture change is the
cost of human resources and time. No single training program or resource will be adequate to address this challenge.
Organizational change requires a long-term commitment and partnership by executive leadership, middle management, and
all employees. Increasing a sense of belonging and appreciation for employees of color necessitates a multifaceted,
multi-phased approach that must be sustained over time. Often, it can take a long time for employees to experience tangible
results, as the process may need to be revised at multiple points throughout the journey. Planning for and communicating
honestly about setbacks and missteps is critical.

Absence of dedicated DEI leadership. Many organizations are taking steps toward long-term change by implementing roles
dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Data shows that the number of diversity leadership roles have been increasing
globally since 2015. Since the summer of 2020 alone, job listings for diversity and inclusion have been posted 4.3 times more
frequently than before (Anderson, 2020). Mallick (2020) recommends that a Chief Diversity Officer report directly to the CEO
and have access to and support from the entire C-suite. A new CDO cannot come in, wave a magic wand, and transform an
organization into an anti-racist one overnight. The person will need dedicated resources to drive cultural change.

– 4 –

Lack of authentic communication. Efforts that are not based on the needs and concerns of employees can fall flat or lead
to resentment. Therefore, in order to successfully introduce effective inclusion strategies into a workplace culture, employees
of color should be invited to share what is important to them. Facilitating honest conversations regarding race in the
workplace can be uncomfortable. It can also be a challenge to make sure that employees do not feel that they are being
asked to solve workplace problems regarding race, but rather are being asked to share their lived experience. Consciously
developing safe spaces for authentic communication sets the foundation for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs.

Implicit biases embedded in human resource practices. Implicit biases permeate all aspects of the workplace if they are
not consciously examined. Examining these biases requires not only a review of recruitment and hiring processes, but also
how well employees of color grow, advance, and feel accepted. Implicit bias training is a useful tool in combating
unintentionally discriminatory practices, but it is critical that leaders not merely “check the box” on the training. Consciously
addressing implicit biases requires ongoing reflections that continue the lifelong process of unlearning. Everyone involved
should be aware of and value the purpose of such reflection periods and be willing to hold one another accountable.

+75%

+107%

+68%

Head of Diversity

Director of Diversity

Chief Diversity Officer

Source: LinkedIn (2020)

Increase in diversity leadership roles, 2015-2020

BEST PRACTICE
A Deep Commitment to Recognizing and Combating Unconscious Bias

In 2009, in partnership with Harvard Professor of Social Ethics Mahzarin Banaji, PwC began to develop the foundation of
its unconscious bias program 4 Real, a series of brief videos geared at helping employees to recognize and combat
unconscious biases – or blind spots – which they carry into the workplace. Grounded in the science of how the mind
develops assumptions and stereotypes, the self-administered training aims to educate employees about different types
of biases and the ways in which these influence decision-making. To date, 40,000 PwC employees have completed the
training. For a more in-depth look at the training and its impact, please click here.

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

WHAT IS WHITE FRAGILITY?

In her 2018 best-selling book, White
Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People
to Talk About Racism, author Robin
DiAngelo delves deeply into the
discomfort and defensiveness that a
White person feels when confronted by
information about racial inequality and
injustice. DiAngelo asserts that White
people in the United States live in a social
environment that insulates them from
“race-based stress.” This environment of
racial protection builds White
expectations for racial comfort while at
the same time lowering their capacity to
tolerate racial conflict.

This is the essence of White fragility; for
White people, even a small amount of
racial stress becomes intolerable and it
can trigger defensiveness. Typical
reactions include anger, guilt, or
withdrawal, and the ensuing behaviors
function to reinstate White racial
equilibrium. The result is often an inability
or unwillingness to see the systemic
advantages White people experience or
to address systemic disadvantages. This,
sometimes unconsciously, perpetuates
systemic racism.

DiAngelo challenges White people to
take responsibility to “be less fragile” so
that people of color don’t need to “twist
themselves into knots trying to navigate
us as painlessly as possible.”

Limited investment/ funding allocated to diversity programs.
Training on implicit bias or diversity and inclusion can improve sensitivity
and awareness in the workplace, but it requires organizations to allocate
a budget for this work. Consultant fees depend on the size and
complexity of the organization seeking training, the scope of services
desired, and the number of office locations that will need to receive
face-to-face training. If the training budget is limited, the extent of the
training offered to employees will also be limited. Change agents must
work with leadership to determine what funds are available, an action
plan around improving diversity and inclusion, and the ways in which
leaders and employees can partner to carry out that plan. If dedicated
funds are low, organizations must decide how to show commitment for
change in other meaningful ways.

Resistance from “majority employees”. According to SHRM, 43% of
American workers believe discussions about race are inappropriate at
work, making it difficult to challenge the status quo. Change can feel
uncertain and uncomfortable, and majority employees may not be ready
to undertake the self exploration required for successful organizational
change regarding race.

Furthermore, many majority employees are not sensitive to the
degree of difference that employees of color experience in the
workplace. While 65% of Black professionals say it is harder for
Black employees to advance, only 16% of White professionals
agree (Coqual, 2019).

– 5 –

43%
of American workers believe
discussions about race are

inappropriate at work

Percentage of employees who believe it is
harder for Black employees to advance

65%
Black

16%
White

Source: Coqual, 2019

Many organizational leaders, primarily White men, have been able to
achieve great success without diversity efforts. These key stakeholders
may need to be convinced that improving inclusion for employees of
color is worth the effort required and that it not only benefits employees
of color, but also the organization at large.

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

RECRUITMENT

Rethink job descriptions. Changing the messaging on job
descriptions, even through subtle word choices, can have a big impact
on diversity sourcing and attraction efforts. Encouraging hiring
managers to be more open to candidates who do not meet all the job
requirements opens the position up to candidates who are ready to
move up and grow into the position.

Establish objective criteria, define “culture fit”, and demand
accountability. Implicit biases concerning “culture fit” often lead to
homogeneity in the workplace. It is important to establish objective
criteria for all open roles and to rate each applicant using a standard
rubric. If using technology, ensure those tools are built on data that is
fair to all socio-demographic groups. Proactively test technologies for
disparate impacts on workers and check for implicit biases on the back
end. When one insurance company began hiring with objective criteria,
it ended up offering jobs to 46% more nonwhite candidates than
before (Williams & Mihaylo, 2019).

Insist on a diverse pool of candidates. The odds of hiring a nonwhite
candidate are 194 times higher with at least two nonwhite candidates
in the pool (Williams & Mihaylo, 2019). To build a diverse pool, search
using sources such as historically Black colleges and universities,
Hispanic and Latino organizations, or professional groups like the
National Association of Asian American Professionals. When asking for
referrals, reach out to employees of color to source from their
networks. This strategy should not be used in isolation, as it may cause
the burden of equality to fall exclusively to employees of color.

– 6 –

BEST PRACTICE
Partnering with HBCUs

Dot Foods has adopted a company-wide
strategy to increase diverse talent, which
includes unconscious bias training,
revamping its recruitment and hiring
practices and strengthening its
onboarding process. In 2016, Dot began
efforts to recruit from Historically Black
Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and
has had several campaigns geared toward
operational, sales, and IT positions. As of
2019, Dot has grown applications and job
views from 5,000 job views/50
applications/0 hires to more than 58,000
job views/500 applications/3 hires.

Dot has been named in HBCU Connect’s
Top 50 Diversity Recruitment Employers
list, recently at #20. HBCU Connect works
with organizations to assist in efforts to
reach students and alumni. Dot was
recognized for doing an excellent job in
efforts to target students and graduates
from HBCUs for employment.

Too often, “fit” is reduced to shared
backgrounds and interests that
out-groups do not have.

to ensure that they are
working as desired

Effective Strategies and Practices to Recruit and Retain a
Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Solutions and commitments must be
created specifically to match the environment. The following practices should be considered in the context of the
organization and selectively applied where relevant.

Consider blind hiring practices. Use a blind resume review to ensure focus on a candidate’s specific qualifications and
talents rather than surface demographic characteristics. Shopify recently held a virtual career fair and assigned neutral
avatars to all attendees that were race, age, and gender agnostic. (McLaren, 2019). This allowed recruiters to objectively
evaluate applicants based on their experience and competencies.

Restructure interviews and retrain hiring managers. Unstructured interviews are often unreliable for predicting job
success. Skills-based questions and work sample tests force employers to critique the quality of a candidate’s work versus
unconsciously judging them on appearance or race. Ask all interviewees the same questions and ensure that each
question directly relates to the desired knowledge and skills. Rate the answers immediately in order to compare
candidates fairly. Train hiring managers on equitable candidate evaluations and ensure that these managers are diverse
in gender and race.

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

HOW TO BE ANTI-RACIST

In How to be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi,
a National Book Award winner, develops a
vision for those who seek to go beyond an
awareness of race to explain how one can
become an active agent for change. An
antiracist is someone who wants to
contribute to the formation of a more just
and equitable society.

Kendi argues that the dichotomy of either
being a racist or not a racist is a false one.
He suggests that we must choose to be
either racist or antiracist, that being
passive in the pursuit of social justice is an
insufficient option.

Through his personal narrative, which
explores his own early support for what
he has come to see as racist ideals, and
chapters on power, culture, behavior,
color, space and ethnicity, Kendi asserts
that to be truly antiracist, one must set
oneself against all forms of social
oppression. Everyone should feel
responsible for our current racial situation
and equally, everyone has the opportunity
to foster change by taking on the role of
antiracist.

RETENTION

Merely increasing the number of diverse employees in an organization
does not dismantle the systems of inequity that exist. Many organizational
diversity and inclusion initiatives stall at the recruitment stage and fail to
retain and promote employees of color, leading to the “illusion of
inclusion” (Roberts, 2020). When people of color rise to leadership, it
encourages younger employees of color and demonstrates that they can
grow within the organization.

Neglecting to meaningfully challenge the status quo can lead to negative
lived experiences for Black employees. Typical retention tools, such as
competitive pay and benefits, are ineffective if employees do not feel
comfortable in their work environment. While leaders recognize the
importance of a diverse workforce, they often fail to create an
environment that values individuals for their unique perspectives and
ensures they will want to stay with the organization. Rather than requiring
employees to assimilate into existing company cultures, which were
developed at a time when the workforce consisted predominantly of
White men, organizations must adapt the company culture to make it truly
equitable for an increasingly diverse workforce.

Combine transparency with action to achieve authenticity.
Statements about cultural change that are not supported by transparency
and concrete action suggest a lack of authenticity that alienates both
consumers and employees. At one organization, the chief executive “took
a knee” in solidarity with Black people, but only 4% of his organization’s
executives are Black (Agovino, 2020). These glaring disparities do not go
unnoticed. The difference between performative and active allyship is
authenticity, and a company’s authentic commitment to diversity may be
the deciding factor for employees of color. If an employee feels they will
be the “only” in their organization and they will not receive the support
needed in order to thrive, the company is far less enticing as a place of
employment.

Establish measurable high-level diversity and inclusion goals and
create an action plan to achieve them. A successful action plan should
establish a vision and motivate change. It should clearly outline
timeframes, responsibilities, and necessary resources. Setting goals,
collecting data, and examining change over time increases accountability
and transparency. Linking diversity goals and senior executives’ pay
increases the likelihood these goals will be accomplished. Despite this,
only 2.6% of the companies surveyed by Pearl Meyer in 2019 said that
fulfilling diversity goals determined some portion of chief executives’ pay.
One company that holds each member of its Executive Committee
accountable for his or her performance on diversity and inclusion
measures has seen shareholder return increase by 120% and share price
increase by 73% (Eavis, 2020).

– 7 –

Percentage of US organizations surveyed

Have publicly
committed to
racial/ethnic

equality

Offer programs
specifically for

women of color

42%

13%

Source: Sastry & Tagle, 2020

Of the

42%
who have publicly committed

to racial/ethnic equality

13%
Offer programs
specifically for

women of color

E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
Advancing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Hold honest conversations about race and listen to employees of color.
Leaders must communicate with empathy and awareness about the racial injustice
with which the country is grappling. When leaders neglect to hold conversations
about matters of racial and social injustice, employees are left to wonder if they
even care, which can lead to a lack of trust that stifles future change efforts.
Though more than 80% of organizations recently released or will release a
statement to employees about racial injustice and protests, only one-third have
gathered the thoughts of their workforce on those issues, according to SHRM
(Agovino, 2020).

To create a culture of psychological safety and pave the way for open
communication, senior leaders must model transparency and authenticity in both
formal and informal discussions. Leaders should encourage people to share ideas,
ask questions, and address issues without fear of reprisal. If leaders listen and
respond to feedback in a meaningful way, employees will develop trust in the
process. These candid conversations will not be immediately comfortable, but they
are required to interrupt the patterns that maintain structural disadvantages.
Unfortunately, uncomfortable and honest conversations are often missing from
failed diversity initiatives.

– 8 –

Percentage of US
organizations that took action

on racial injustice issues

80%

33%

Source: SHRM (August 2020)

Recently
released or

will release a
statement

33%

80%Gathered
thoughts of

their
workforce

Recently released or will
release a statement
about racial justice

Gathered the thoughts of
their workplace on racial

justice issues

BARRIERS INITIATIVES

ACCESS Diversity
Representation and pipeline

AUTHENTICITY Inclusion
Organizational culture and belonging

ADVANCEMENT Equity
Performance evaluation and leadership development

AUTHORITY & ACCOUNTABILITY Justice
Power dynamics and leadership profiles

Developed by Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts, Professor of P

draft

https://doi.org/10.1177/0734371X19865009

Review of Public Personnel Administration
2021, Vol. 41(1) 105 –131

© The Author(s) 2019
Article reuse guidelines:

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DOI: 10.1177/0734371X19865009

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Article

Gender, Race, and Diversity
Values Among Local
Government Leaders

Mary K. Feeney1 and Leonor Camarena1

Abstract
Despite the increased emphasis placed on diversity and inclusion, there is relatively
little research that focuses on diversity values in small and medium-sized cities.
This research uses data from a 2016 nationally representative survey to investigate
how city department leaders’ perceptions of their organizations valuing diversity
are related to the identity of the department head, the mayor, and the community.
We find that women and people of color are underrepresented in city department
leadership. Reporting that one’s organization values racial and gender diversity is
significantly related to respondent gender, respondent race (for women), mayoral
race (for women), and diversity in the community (for men), and that the interaction
of mayoral and community identity is related to perceived diversity values. We
conclude with a discussion of what these findings mean for diversity and inclusion in
practice in local government departments, which often lack demographic diversity.

Keywords
diversity, gender, workplace culture, local government, values

Introduction

In 2016, women accounted for 20% of mayors and 25.8% of department heads in
medium and small cities in the United States (e.g., populations 250,000-25,000); 17%
of mayors were people of color.1 Although women and people of color are generally
well integrated into the modern labor American workforce, they remain underrepre-
sented in higher level management. Organizations are the creation of the people they

1Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA

Corresponding Author:
Mary K. Feeney, Professor and Lincoln Professor of Ethics in Public Affairs, Center for Science,
Technology & Environmental Policy Studies, Arizona State University, University Center, Suite 400,
411 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA.
Email: mkfeeney@asu.edu

865009ROPXXX10.1177/0734371X19865009Review of Public Personnel AdministrationFeeney and Camarena
research-article2019

106 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

embody (Hutchinson, 2011); thus, when organizations are led by homogeneous
groups, they are less likely to embody multiple values, perspectives, and diverse inter-
ests. In all levels of government, when the lower ranks of the civil service are made up
of women and people of color and men and White men dominate the upper levels,
equal opportunity to influence government is undermined (Wise, 1990). This is espe-
cially problematic in local government where federal hiring programs do not apply
and where government most closely interacts with the public.

A lack of diversity in leadership inevitably shapes the culture of the public sector
and its effective delivery of public services to diverse communities. Public organiza-
tions that lack diversity are more likely to undervalue inclusion and engage in actions
such as self-selection away from diversity in recruitment and discrimination in hiring
(Baekgaard & George, 2018). Demographic diversity in the upper levels of public
organizations leads to more progressive policies aimed at diversity and inclusion
through the organization; women and people of color in leadership serve as a model
for others aspiring to leadership (AbouAssi, Bauer, & Johnston, 2019; Riccucci, 2002).
Since the 1960s, affirmative action (AA) programs, Equal Employment Opportunity
(EEO) policies, and diversity management strategies have aimed to advance diversity
in government organizations (Pitts, 2009; Rosenbloom, 1977). Recently, there has
been an emerging focus on creating a climate that welcomes and appropriately man-
ages diversity (Bae, Sabharwal, Smith, & Berman, 2017; Gonzalez & Denisi, 2009;
Oberfield, 2016).

Diversity research is loosely concentrated in three areas: inclusion and integration,
diversity policies and programs, and diversity effects (Pitts, 2006). Thomas (1990)
was the first to focus on the concept of “valuing diversity,” an intermediary between
the progression of AA and EEO programs and diversity management. Valuing diver-
sity in the workplace is often seen as an organizational focus that encourages employ-
ees to value diversity through bulletins, newsletters, workshops, and team building
(Pitts, 2006). Although legal mandates emphasize employing people of particular
identities, there is little research on the perceptions that government leaders have about
diversity norms and values. This research is motivated by the following research
questions:

Research Question 1: Do city department leaders perceive their organizations as
valuing gender and racial diversity?
Research Question 2: How are the characteristics and identity of the department
head, mayor, and community related to gender and racial diversity values?

Diversity is an important aspect of government organizations from two perspec-
tives: management and governance (Blessett, Alkadry, & Rubaii, 2013). Managing
diversity is important for administrators that work in diverse organizations. Research
finds when organizations manage diversity well, women report higher levels of job
satisfaction (Choi & Rainey, 2014) and organizations can increase productivity (Naff
& Kellough, 2003). Governance considers the interactions of administrators with
multiple stakeholders in different environments (Blessett et al., 2013)—seeking to

Feeney and Camarena 107

govern for inclusion in a diverse work environment where different stakeholders have
distinct needs. Managing and governing diversity enhances organizational effective-
ness and organizational productivity and can provide organizations with a broad
range of ideas, skills, and insights (Cox, 1994; Ely, 2004; Wiersema & Bantel, 1992).
Organizations with a culture where managers are committed to diversity can increase
job satisfaction, innovative behavior, and work group performance (Moon, 2018;
Pitts, 2009).

The theory of representative bureaucracy argues diversity matters for leadership in
public agencies and that bureaucracy should reflect the diversity of its citizenry
(Kellough & Naff, 2004). Gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in bureaucracies are
expected to translate to policies and programs that target or benefit women and people
of color in the general population (Riccucci, Van Ryzin, & Lavena, 2014). Some gov-
ernment agencies have introduced diversity management programs to increase hetero-
geneity (Choi & Rainey, 2014; Wise & Tschirhart, 2000) and develop a climate and
culture that is committed to the inclusion of diverse individuals (Bae et al., 2017;
Oberfield, 2016). Although formal equal opportunity hiring programs have been in
effect for decades and there is a preponderance of evidence that representation matters
and a diverse climate is valuable for organizations (Gonzalez & Denisi, 2009), women
and people of color remain underrepresented in government leadership and little is
known about how local governments value diversity. For our purposes, diversity val-
ues are defined as a department administrator’s awareness that diversity is permitted
to flourish, broadly encompassing inclusion and integration, diversity policies and
programs, and diversity effects.

This research examines whether the social identity of city department leaders and
political leadership (e.g., mayors) is related to perceptions of diversity values in their
organizations—including the hiring and advancement of women and people of color.
We analyze how the gender and racial and ethnic identity of city department leaders,
mayors, and communities are related to diversity values in city departments. We use
data from a 2016 nationally representative survey of 500 small and medium-sized cit-
ies, U.S. Census data, and data collected from government websites. We describe the
proportion of women and people of color in municipal leadership positions across the
500 cities and contribute to the broader diversity research in government by illustrat-
ing how individual identity and representation are related to perceptions of diversity
values in municipal government. We conclude with a discussion of next steps to move
beyond counting demographics to assessing social identity, diversity values, and
inclusive practice.

Diversity and Social Identity

Public organizations, compared to private organizations, tend to have more diverse
employee populations in terms of race, sex, and age. Many suggest this is the result of
a commitment to increasing workforce diversity by recruiting, hiring, and retaining
employees with different backgrounds (Cornwell & Kellough, 1994; Foldy, 2004).
Although women and people of color have made gains in government employment in

108 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

the United States, there remain a host of discriminatory practices and biases (Riccucci,
2002). Despite broader organizational shifts in programs and policies committed to
diversity, recent research on a sample of U.S. federal employees indicates white men
are more likely to report a diversity climate while minority men and women indicate
their organizations are less committed to diversity (Oberfield, 2016).

Recruitment is a central focus across diversity management programs (Kellough &
Naff, 2004). Unfortunately, programs and efforts to recruit diverse individuals have
led to perceptions of reverse discrimination and are often viewed with disdain by
employees who feel threatened by them or feel that they are unfair (Pitts, 2006).
Riccucci (1997) found that many white male employees believe anything associated
with diversity is reverse discrimination. Thus, recruitment programs alone are insuf-
ficient at building a culture that values diversity. Valuing diversity requires individuals
to feel their identity is welcomed, safe, and acceptable in the organization.

According to social identity theory (SIT), people classify themselves and others into
social categories defined by organizational membership, religious affiliation, gender,
race, ethnicity, age cohort, and so on (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Social classification
enables an individual to locate or define themselves in the social environment (Ashforth
& Mael, 1989) and leads to varying perceptions of likeness and difference in social
identification. This identification can describe or reinforce structural barriers, for exam-
ple, women and people of color often face institutional and structural barriers to
advancement (Riccucci, 2002). Often these barriers relate to subtle assumptions, atti-
tudes, and stereotypes. Perceptions of differences in divisions of labor, racism, decades
of formal and informal discrimination, power relations, and cultural symbolism can
leave women and people of color in lower paying and lower status jobs (Connell, 2006;
Miller, Kerr, & Reid, 1999; Riccucci, 2002), which may affect their views of the orga-
nization’s commitment to and valuing of diversity. These diversity values—perceptions
of gender and racial diversity—are linked to perspectives, attitudes, and experiences
that diverse individuals bring to government agencies. In the US, social identity and
classification often occurs by gender and race (Riccucci, 2002). For women, identity
can be specified as perceived similarity to other women, the perception of common fate
(i.e., a belief that women are treated similarly based on their group membership; Gurin
& Townsend, 1986). Similarly, race and ethnicity can be an identified commonality for
group status. Racial and ethnic identity can result in empowerment or marginalization,
access to or exclusion from power, and the development of individual and collective
perceptions, stereotypes, and identities (Ospina & Foldy, 2009).

The self-identification of an individual into a social group leads to perceptions of
in-group stereotypes and perceptions of out-group members that lead to out-group
stereotypes (Hogg, Terry, & White, 1995). Identifying with particular in-groups or out-
groups can lead to intergroup behavior that brings competitive and discriminatory
properties to the nature of group relations (Hogg et al., 1995). For example, high-status
group members will be motivated to preserve their dominance if they perceive it to be
legitimate (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). Because men hold higher status in society, they
would, on average, be expected to exhibit positive attitudes and supportive behavior
toward other men, as members of their in-group, and treat women negatively as the

Feeney and Camarena 109

out-group (Tolbert, Graham, & Andrews, 1999). Similarly, as White people in the
United States have higher socioeconomic status, they will be more likely to support
in-group members and treat those in racial or ethnic out-groups negatively. Thus, self-
identification and perceptions of in- and out-group status in organizations are related
to perceptions of and efforts aimed at valuing diversity. We focus on two forms of
diversity values, gender and race and ethnicity.

Gender

We explore the relationship between the gender identity of city department heads and
their reports of their organizations’ diversity values. On one hand, research shows
that leadership values and styles in the public sector differ by gender and matter for
gendered outcomes (Feeney & Langer, 2016; Jacobson, Palus, & Cynthia, 2010;
Meier, Toole, & Goerdel, 2006). Female leaders are more inclusive and engage
broader participation (Weikart, Chen, Williams, & Hromic, 2007). Gender diversity
in government can increase organizational performance, perception of trust and fair-
ness, inclusion, job satisfaction, and lower turnover intention and empowerment for
women (AbouAssi et al., 2019; Andrews & Ashworth, 2015; Choi & Rainey, 2014;
Moynihan & Landuyt, 2008; Riccucci et al., 2014). Women report higher levels of
commitment to equal opportunity (Guy, 1993), and employees perceive that women-
led federal agencies outperform those run by men (D’Agostino, 2015). It follows that
women can lead city departments toward a culture that values diversity and
inclusion.

On the other hand, given the low proportion of women in political and managerial
leadership in city government, women department heads might perceive themselves
and be perceived as the out-group and feel pressure not to engage in gendered leader-
ship. For example, Weikart and colleagues (2007) found female mayors were more
likely to report that they faced gender-based obstacles in their leadership roles, and
Guy (2016) reported that when women hold a minority of decision-making positions
within organizations it creates a cycle of problems associated with tokenism. Naff
(1995b) found that women who work in male-dominated agencies as compared to
those who work in female-dominated agencies are more likely to believe women are
discriminated against. A recent Pew survey found women in male-dominated work-
places are more likely to say their gender has made it harder for them to get ahead at
work, they are less likely to say women are treated fairly in personnel matters, and
they report experiencing gender discrimination at significantly higher rates (Funk &
Parker, 2018). Women in gender-balanced or majority-female workplaces report
higher levels of gender equity and lower levels of gender discrimination (Funk &
Parker, 2018; Naff, 1995b).

Thus, while female leaders may be strongly committed to diversity, they are also
more likely to have experienced bias and obstacles in their own advancement, poten-
tially making them more sensitive to and critical of the organization’s commitment to
these issues. In addition, even in leadership positions, women remain the out-group in
these male-dominated organizations. Given this reasoning, the expectation is that

110 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

female leaders will report lower levels of diversity values in their organizations as
compared to their male counterparts.

Hypothesis 1 (H1): Female leaders, as compared to male leaders, will report lower
diversity values in their departments.

Race and Ethnicity

There is extensive evidence that people of color face substantial structural and institu-
tional barriers to advancement in the workforce, including lower pay, micro aggres-
sions, barriers to powerful networks, overt racism, discrimination, stereotyping, and
prejudice (Combs, 2003; Ferdman & Cortes, 1992; Holvino & Blake-Beard, 2004).
Governments have adopted numerous policies and programs aimed at eliminating dis-
crimination and promoting diversity hiring and retention (Rosenbloom, 1973;
Rosenbloom & Berry, 1978). One might expect that individuals who have benefited
directly from efforts and policies to reduce discrimination will be more sensitive to the
need for advancing diversity values.

Yet, people of color continue to be clustered at lower ranks in government organi-
zations and underrepresented in leadership positions (Sanchez-Hucles & Sanchez,
2007). Research notes that broad equitable employment for minorities in the public
sector is related to their representation on city councils, in key bureaucratic decision-
making positions (Sass & Mehay, 2003), and overall representation in the population
(Eisinger, 1982). This suggests that department heads might be in a key position to
advance diversity values.

The research on leadership and race and ethnicity presents a set of complex
findings—often because of methodological limitations, differences across and between
racial and ethnic groups, and variation in the ways in which individuals and groups
characterize and respond to power differentials and opportunities for empowerment
(Ospina & Foldy, 2009). For example, Abney and Hutcheson (1981) found that fol-
lowing the election of a black mayor, identification with city government among
blacks increased. Fraga, Meier, and England (1986) concluded that Hispanic represen-
tation on school boards impacted Hispanic teacher employment and educational out-
comes. However, Cook and Glass (2014) concluded that minority leaders have a
limited effect on equitable policies, but their leadership combined with diverse boards
increases equitable practices.

Leader racial identity can drive outcomes for minority stakeholders and the public,
but does it affect culture and values? Oberfield (2016) examined perceptions of a
diversity climate among employees with diverse managers and found a negative rela-
tionship between minority representativeness of managers and diversity climate,
though White respondents primarily drove this relationship. Oberfield concluded
diversity in management is insufficient to create a positive diversity climate for out-
group members. We expect that as the out-group in predominately white organiza-
tions, leaders of color will be especially sensitive to the barriers they face (or have

Feeney and Camarena 111

faced) and the need for an increased focus on diversity values. Thus, they will report
lower diversity values in the organizations they lead.

Hypothesis 2 (H2): Leaders of color, as compared to White leaders, will report
lower diversity values in their departments.

Intersectionality

Although demographic measures of social identity are useful for empirical purposes,
they should not be interpreted to suggest that gender, race, and ethnicity can be reduced
to simple variables. Public administration research on gender and racial diversity is
often criticized for a reliance on simple measures without a focus on intersectionality
(Sabharwal, Levine, & Agostino, 2018). Intersectionality refers to how multiple mar-
ginal and socially constructed identities converge within a single social group (Breslin,
Pandey, & Riccucci, 2017). Intersectionality interrogates the hierarchies and structures
that are in place that inform and produce categorical differences (MacKinnon, 2013).
Research on identity groups and intergroup theory notes that groups defined by com-
mon biology or historical and social experience, and some combination of the two can
result in different experiences in the workplace.

Organizational activities aimed at advancing intergroup relations and diversity val-
ues have different ramifications for each group and for those in intersecting groups
(Kossek & Zonia, 1993). Perceptions of diversity values and climate will be condi-
tioned by group membership and intergroup relations—white women will experience
the organization differently than white men, blacks will experience the organization
differently than whites, and those at the intersection (black women) will have a differ-
ent reference for group membership than white women and black men. While white
women and racioethnic minority men and women are likely to hold similar views
about the dominance of white men, and be expected to cooperate against the status
quo, they do not necessarily value diversity efforts in the same way and there is the
possibility of intergroup competition within these groups (Alderfer, 1987). For exam-
ple, Kossek and Zonia (1993) found valuing diversity varies by gender, race, and the
interaction of the two. Mor Barak and colleagues (1998) found that compared to White
men, women and racial/ethnic minorities were more comfortable with and value diver-
sity in their organizations. There are positive, cooperative links between different
groups, though competition and rivalry is also present. Mor Barak and colleagues
(1998) concluded that men perceive organizational diversity more favorably than
women, possibly because they do not experience or participate in creating these barri-
ers. Similarly, whites perceived the organization as fair, while racial minorities reported
discrimination. Minorities were more comfortable with diversity than whites were.
They conclude that threats from diversity efforts for men as compared to women are
differently perceived than threats and opportunities across racial/ethnic groups (Mor
Barak et al., 1998) and that women of racial/ethnic minority groups felt more excluded
than those of one group.

112 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

Research is clear that group identity matters and that gender group identity is dif-
ferent from racial/ethnic group identity. For example, women of color experience the
collective perceptions and stereotypes of their racial identity intertwined with their
gender identity—an intersection that is quite distinct from the experiences of men of
color, white women, or the summation of the two. Given previous research on inter-
sectionality, we expect that women of color in city government who experience the
out-group status of gender and race will report lower diversity values in their
organizations.

Hypothesis 3 (H3): Female leaders of color—as compared to white men, white
women, and men of color—will report lower diversity values in their departments.

Community Diversity

The existence of a diverse bureaucracy can translate into benefits for the citizenry
without direct actions by bureaucrats (Gade & Wilkins, 2013; Riccucci, 2017). The
demographic characteristics of bureaucrats can passively produce political respon-
siveness and policy effectiveness that are favorable to the community (Fernandez,
Malatesta, & Smith, 2013; Fraga & Elis, 2009). In addition, public perceptions about
bureaucratic legitimacy can be positively affected when the identity of the bureaucrat
matches that of the clientele (Gade & Wilkins, 2013; Meier & Nicholson-Crotty, 2006;
Riccucci et al., 2014).

The public administration literature has reached a consensus that race and ethnicity
is perhaps the most important demographic characteristic for comparing bureaucratic
and public representation in the United States (Meier, 1975; Selden & Selden, 2001).
The distribution of tangible benefits and economic goods to minority communities can
be tied to that group’s political power (Eisinger, 1982). For example, Hispanic repre-
sentation on school boards is a significant determinant of student performance (Fraga
et al., 1986), and the presence of a Latino or African American mayor is significantly
related to minority police officer employment (Zhao, He, & Lovrich, 2005).

The size of a minority population in a city is related to the proportion of representa-
tion that demographic group has in municipal workforces, and this representation
translates into outcomes for those racial and ethnic groups (Fraga & Elis, 2009; Fraga
et al., 1986; Stein, 1986; Zhao et al., 2005). Cities with larger African American popu-
lations have more minority city council members and mayors, which in turn increases
equitable hiring and promotion practices (Saltzstein, 1989; Walker & Bumphus, 1992).
Research finds Black political empowerment, measured by having a Black mayor, is a
consistent positive predictor of representation of Black police officers in U.S. cities
(Saltzstein, 1989; Sass & Mehay, 2003; Zhao et al., 2005). In sum, racially diverse
communities are more likely to have diverse political and bureaucratic representation
and increased political engagement from minority groups (Spence, McClerking, &
Brown, 2009). We expect that diversity values in the bureaucracy will be related to
heterogeneity in local communities. Specifically, managers working in more racially

Feeney and Camarena 113

and ethnically diverse communities will report increased diversity values in their
departments.

Hypothesis 4 (H4): Racially diverse communities will be positively related to
diversity values in city departments.

Political Leadership

Leader gender, race, and ethnicity influence agency performance, citizen trust, and
political engagement. Differences in leadership are partially explained by self-catego-
rization, identity, in-group and out-group status, and social expectations. For example,
women in management roles tend to be more collaborative, and their presence has an
impact on policy outcomes and organizational performance (Meier et al., 2006).
Women city managers are more likely to include citizen input, facilitate communica-
tion, and encourage citizen involvement in their decision-making processes (Fox &
Schuhmann, 1999).

Women in political leadership can affect policy and bureaucratic structures. Women
legislators are more likely to initiate legislation on women’s issues (Saint-Germain,
1989), and female mayors emphasize different policy issues, seek broader participa-
tion, and are more inclusive than male mayors (Weikart et al., 2007). Having a women
mayor increases the number of women in municipal employment (Ferreira & Gyourko,
2011; Saltzstein, 1986). Given the extensive research indicating that female-elected
officials influence organizations differently than men, we expect that valuing gender
diversity will be related to visible female political leadership in the city.

Hypothesis 5 (H5): Having a female mayor will be positively related to diversity
values in city departments.

Similarly, a person of color in political leadership can affect organizational out-
comes, trust in government, and employment and representation in the bureaucracy.
Political leaders who present as African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American,
or another minority racial or ethnic group are often expected to better represent, advo-
cate for, and advance the interests of their respective communities (Eisinger, 1982;
Fraga & Elis, 2009; Mladenka, 1989; Saltzstein, 1989; Stein, 1986). Research indi-
cates that when people of color hold political office, community members of that same
racial or ethnic group are able to identify with a visible political actor which in turn
increases positive perceptions of and trust in government, levels of empowerment, and
political engagement (Abney & Hutcheson, 1981; Bobo & Gilliam, 1990).

The lack of minorities in high-level leadership positions in municipal government
is presumably a block to the representation of minorities in government (Meier, 1975;
Thompson, 1976), leading many to argue that in addition to serving as visual role
models to organizational members and the community at large, leaders of color can
alter the demographics of the city’s workforce (Marschall & Shah, 2007). Mayoral

114 Review of Public Personnel Administration 41(1)

race and ethnicity can be an important predictor of political empowerment and partici-
pation, trust in government, distribution of resources throughout the community, and
municipal workforce diversity (Abney & Hutcheson, 1981; Marschall & Shah, 2007;
Spence et al., 2009), but these findings vary by city demographics, leadership race and
ethnicity, and other factors (Kerr, Miller, Schreckhise, & Reid, 2013). Given previous
findings, we hypothesize that diversity values will be related to visible diverse politi-
cal leadership in the community.

Hypothesis 6 (H6): Having a mayor of color will be positively related to diversity
values in city departments.

Intersectionality adopts a distinctive stance, “where systems of race, gender, and
class domination converge” (Crenshaw, 1991, p. 1246), and where awareness is on
people and experiences (MacKinnon, 2013). Intersectionality suggests that the pro-
cesses of racialization and gendering are specific yet interrelated (Hawkesworth,
2006). Racialization may produce marked commonalities between men and women of
dominant race and ethnic groups and of disadvantage among men and women of the
subordinate race and ethnic groups. Gendering may produce commonalities (styliza-
tion of the body, voice intonations and inflections, interests, aspirations) among
women across race and ethnic groups and among men across race and ethnic groups
(Hawkesworth, 2006). Race and gendering are active processes where identities of
women of color are constituted through practices that construct them as “other” (to
White women, men of color, and White men; Hawkesworth, 2006). Studies of elected
women of color consistently document forms of marginalization, including stereotyp-
ing and lack of institutional responsiveness to the policies advanced by women of
color (Bratton & Haynie, 1999; Swain, 2000). Given the extensive research on how
intersectionality changes the experiences and perceptions of individuals, we hypothe-
size that diversity values will be related to visible intersectional political leadership in
the community.

Hypothesis 7 (H7): Having a female mayor of color will be positively related to
diversity values in city departments.

Data and Method

The hypotheses are tested using data from the 2016 National Study of Technology Use
in Government condu

draft

ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / July 2001Selden, Selden / RETHINKING DIVERSITY IN ORGANIZATIONS
The 21st century promises a more diverse public workplace in terms of race, ethnicity, cul-
ture, gender, age, and disabilities. In light of the shifting composition of public organiza-
tions, this article applies three different paradigms of diversity developed to understand pri-
vate organizations and analyze practices in and research about public organizations.
Building on these paradigms, this article proposes a new process for managing diversity that
facilitates the development and promulgation of a multicultural organization. This paradigm
of multiculturalism cultivates a climate in which individuals from dominant and nondominant
cultures coexist and thrive. Consequently, agencies will be more effective in recruiting and re-
taining a diverse workforce, structuring internal processes, and serving clients.

RETHINKING DIVERSITY IN
PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS
FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Moving Toward a Multicultural Model

SALLY COLEMAN SELDEN
Lynchburg College

FRANK SELDEN
Piedmont Psychiatric Center, Centra Health

America’s workforce is changing and rapidly growing more diverse.
Demographics are being reshaped by three decades of increasing immi-
gration, primarily from Asia and Latin America; increased representation
of persons with disabilities; and the maturation of the baby boomer gener-
ation. These trends changed the composition of the workforce (Booth,
1998). According to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
between 1998 and 2008, White non-Hispanic males will only compose
30% of new workforce entrants (Fullerton, 1999).1 During this period of
time, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans will represent
16.5%, 16.2%, and 8.8%, respectively, of new entrants. The annual
growth rate of African Americans in the civilian workforce between 1998

303

ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY, Vol. 33 No. 3, July 2001 303-329
© 2001 Sage Publications

and 2008 is projected to be slightly lower than that of Hispanics and Asian
Americans (1.8%, 3.2%, and 3.4%, respectively) (Fullerton, 1999).

Public agencies have already witnessed considerable demographic
changes during the past two decades. At the end of fiscal year 1996, the
federal government workforce consisted of more than 29% minorities
(U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 1998a). As shown in Table 1, the
percentage of minorities holding positions within the executive branch
increased between 1984 and 1996, but the percentage of women
decreased during this same period. When the figures are broken down by
specific racial and ethnic groups, the results indicate that all four minority
groups have increased their share of executive branch positions between
1984 and 1996.

Diversity within public agencies has also changed with respect to age
and disabilities. The average age of the American worker is expected to
continue to rise in the next two decades, with the number of workers
between 16 and 24 years old falling by approximately 8%. The average
age for full-time permanent federal civilian employees was 45.2 years in
1997, up from 44.3 years the previous year (U.S. Office of Personnel Man-
agement, 1998a). Although an aging workforce can have positive effects
(e.g., greater experience-based work knowledge), older workers may be
less responsive to organizational changes, less mobile, less interested in
training, and more prone to frustration by their lack of advancement
(Lambs, 1996; USMP, 1993). Out of 32 federal agencies surveyed by the
Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) in 1991 and 1992, 25 agencies
indicated that the average age of their workforces was increasing. How-
ever, most agencies had not yet encountered problems associated with an
older workforce (USMP, 1993).

According to recent census data, more than 15% of individuals enter-
ing the labor market have a disability. Disabilities include cognitive and
physical impairments, such as blindness, epilepsy, Human Immunodefi-
ciency Virus (HIV), and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
(Slack, 1997a). As shown in Table 2, the percentage of persons employed
in the executive branch with disabilities increased after the passage of the
Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990, which heightened awareness of
the rights of persons with disabilities; however, the share of positions held
by persons with disabilities declined slightly between 1994 and 1997.2 In
March 1998, President Clinton issued an executive order “to increase the
employment of adults with disabilities to a rate that is as close as possible
to the employment rate of the general adult population.” Because of the
increased attention toward workers with disabilities, agencies are being

304 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / July 2001

challenged to reevaluate their job descriptions, to determine their capacity
to provide reasonable accommodations, and to reduce employment
barriers.

Workplace environments will change as the demographic characteris-
tics of the labor pool evolve (Hutchins & Sigelman, 1981; Kellough, 1990;
Kellough & Elliott, 1992; Sigelman & Karnig, 1977). These changes,
according to Loden and Loeser (1991), “have far reaching implications
for the ways that public . . . institutions are to be led and managed in the
future” (p. 21). Because of constrained budgets and growing demands for
more efficient government, public organizations have not invested as
heavily in diversity programs as their private sector counterparts, even
though many public sector organizations are committed to diversity
efforts (Chambers & Riccucci, 1997). However, in light of the challenges
posed by the projected demographic changes and the legal erosion of affir-
mative action programs, scholars and practitioners must understand the
diversity research and consider the future direction of diversity efforts
within public organizations.

This article reviews policies and research on the representation and
diversity of public organizations. The article first briefly reviews the evo-
lution of equal employment opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action
policies in the federal government and then highlights the tenets and per-
ceived benefits of representative bureaucracy, a theory often cited as a
rationale for diversity. The third section considers the application of three
paradigms, based on the practices of private organizations, for under-

Selden, Selden / RETHINKING DIVERSITY IN ORGANIZATIONS 305

TABLE 1

Executive Branch Employment by Race,
Ethnicity, and Gender (in percentages)

1984 1988 1992 1996 1997 1998

African American 15.7 16.6 16.5 16.8 16.7 16.7
Hispanic 4.7 5.4 5.5 5.4 6.2 6.4
Asian American 2.8 3.6 3.8 3.6 4.4 4.5
Native American 1.7 1.9 2.0 1.9 2.1 2.1
Total minorities 24.9 27.7 27.8 27.7 29.4 29.7
White, non-Hispanic 75.1 72.3 72.2 72.3 40.6 70.3
Men 60.0 58.0 56.6 56.0 50.8 56.0
Women 40.0 42.0 43.4 44.0 44.2 44.0

SOURCE: Adapted from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (1998a).

standing diversity efforts in public agencies. Finally, the article proposes
an approach for managing diversity that facilitates the development of a
multicultural organization.

EVOLUTION OF EEQ POLICIES3

As we move into the millennium, some public organizations are begin-
ning to implement diversity initiatives in an effort to move beyond EEO
policies and affirmative action efforts by taking advantage of the expected
demographic changes of the labor force and changing legal environment
(Chambers & Riccucci, 1997).

The origins of current affirmative action programs date back to EEO
efforts aimed at eliminating discrimination (Krislov, 1967; Rosenbloom,
1973, 1977; Rosenbloom & Berry, 1984). Examples of EEO policies’
prohibiting discrimination in federal employment and contracting are
found in provisions of the Ramspect Act of 1940 and Executive Order
Number 8587 issued by President Roosevelt that year. The following year,
Executive Order Number 8802 established the first meaningful adminis-
trative mechanism to enforce the law. The Fair Employment Practice
Committee (FEPC) was established “to provide for the full and equitable
participation of all workers in the defense industries, without discrimina-
tion” (Krislov, 1967, p. 30). The FEPC investigated complaints and had
the authority to make recommendations to correct problems, but it lacked
the power to enforce its recommendations (Rosenbloom, 1977, p. 61).
Although subsequent presidents reorganized and renamed the federal pro-
gram, the investigation of discrimination remained the primary focus of
the effort to overcome discriminatory employment practices.

In the 1960s, the political climate changed and programs targeting dis-
crimination took new shape. Programs introduced during the Kennedy
and Johnson administration were confined primarily to three activities:

306 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / July 2001

TABLE 2

Percentage of Executive Branch Employees With Disabilities

1986 1990 1994 1997

Employees with disabilities 6.6 6.9 7.4 7.2

SOURCE: Adapted from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (1998b).

reviewing patterns of minority and female employment, examining the
relationship between job qualifications and actual job requirements, and
recruiting efforts to attract women and minority applicants (Krislov, 1967;
Rosenbloom, 1973, 1977; Rosenbloom & Berry, 1984). Also, during this
time, significant legislative action sought to improve equal opportunity to
different groups, including minorities. For example, Section 701b of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 declared “that it shall be the policy of the United
States to ensure equal employment opportunity for federal employees
without discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national ori-
gin, and the President shall utilize his existing authority to effectuate this
policy” (quoted in Krislov, 1967, p. 42).

By the 1970s, it was apparent that the existing executive and legislative
actions were not sufficient to overcome underrepresentation of minorities
in the upper ranks of the public sector (Rosenbloom, 1973). Rosenbloom
(1973) described the dissatisfaction with EEO practices at this time and
particularly with the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) EEO activities.
This discontent increased the pressure to transfer the EEO program to
another agency. In addition, “the strategy of using goals and timetables for
minority hiring and promotion was being more commonly urged” (p.
245), and several agencies (such as the Army and the Office of Manage-
ment and Budget) were determined to use them regardless of the CSC’s
policy. The convergence of these factors and the CSC’s desire to preserve
and protect its EEO role led to the CSC’s policy statement encouraging the
use of goals and timetables (p. 248). The ultimate goal was to bring the
level of representation of minorities and women within the agency into
parity with the relevant labor pool. Goals and timetables often required
that race, ethnicity, and gender be taken into account in employment, col-
lege admissions, and contract awards (Kellough, Selden, & Legge, 1997).
These race, ethnic, and gender-conscious remedies, or affirmative action
programs, have encountered criticism to one degree or another since being
introduced.

In the past decade, the split between the two major political parties on
this issue has widened, with Democrats typically supportive of such pro-
grams and Republicans more often opposed to the use of such measures.
The division has led to considerable debate about the future of affirmative
action in the media, state legislatures, and classrooms (Kellough et al.,
1997). In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 209, which
declared that

Selden, Selden / RETHINKING DIVERSITY IN ORGANIZATIONS 307

neither the State of California nor any of its political subdivisions or agents
shall use race, gender, color, ethnicity, or national origin as a criterion for
either discrimination against, or granting preference to, any individual or
group in the operation of the State’s public employment, public education,
or public contracting.

In 1997, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the case on Propo-
sition 209, upholding the prohibition on affirmative action in California.
In 1997, similar initiatives were introduced in nine state legislatures, but
none were signed into law (Kellough et al., 1997). In 1998, residents of
Washington passed Initiative 200, prohibiting affirmative action in public
employment, education, and contracting. Riccucci (1997b) predicted that
the legal status of affirmative action is “likely to continue to erode as we
move into the twenty-first century” (p. 69).

REPRESENTATION BUREAUCRACY:
DIVERSITY IN AGENCY COMPOSITION,

PROCESSES, AND OUTCOMES

An original intent of affirmative action in public organizations was to
establish a bureaucracy representative of the general population, that is,
groups would be represented in government in the same proportion as
their composition in the general population. Some scholars have argued
that a bureaucracy will be more responsive to public interests (and will
therefore better serve democratic principles) if its personnel reflects the
public served in characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and gender (Meier,
1993b; Rourke, 1978, p. 396; Selden, 1997). This idea forms the rationale
for the theory of representative bureaucracy. The central tenet of the the-
ory of representative bureaucracy is that passive representation, or the
extent to which a bureaucracy employs people of diverse social back-
grounds, leads to active representation, or the pursuit of policies reflecting
the interests and desires of those people (Meier, 1993a; Meier & Stewart,
1992). The argument is premised on the belief that such attributes lead to
certain early socialization experiences that in turn give rise to attitudes,
values, and beliefs that ultimately help to shape the behavior and decisions
of individual bureaucrats (Kranz, 1976; Krislov, 1974; Meier & Nigro,
1976; Rosenbloom & Featherstonhaugh, 1977; Rosenbloom & Kinnard,
1977; Saltzstein, 1979; Selden, 1997; Thompson, 1978). Although
agency socialization might mitigate the influence of personal values,

308 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / July 2001

research has shown that values relating to race and ethnicity are important
determinants of a person’s policy decisions (Selden, 1997).

Proponents contend that a bureaucracy that reflects the diversity of the
general population implies a symbolic commitment to equal access to
power (Gallas, 1985; Meier, 1993b; Mosher, 1968; L. R. Wise, 1990). The
symbolic role results from the personal characteristics of distinctive group
members and the assumption that because of these characteristics the
bureaucracy has prior experiences in common with other members of that
group (Guinier, 1994). When members of distinctive groups become pub-
lic officials, they become legitimate actors in the political process with the
ability to shape public policy. Representative bureaucracy provides a
means of fostering equity in the policy process by helping to ensure that all
interests are represented in the formulation and implementation of poli-
cies and programs (Saltzstein, 1979). Moreover, a recent study offers evi-
dence that a representative bureaucracy is more effective, that is, school
bureaucracies with more minority teachers produced higher minority and
nonminority student test scores (Meier, Wrinkle, & Polinard, 1999).

As stated earlier, representative bureaucracy offers a means of recon-
ciling bureaucratic government with democratic values by ensuring that
public organizations are responsive to the public through employee repre-
sentation and subsequently are more effective (Meier et al., 1999. Over
time, public organizations have employed different strategies to achieve a
representative bureaucracy. Because of the changing labor force demo-
graphics and legal challenges to EEO and affirmative action, scholars and
practitioners are shifting their focus to workplace diversity, a voluntary,
proactive program aimed at improving organizational effectiveness
(Chambers & Riccucci, 1997; Riccucci, 1997a, 1997b). For this shift to be
successful, Slack (1997b) argued that “an accompanying shift in organi-
zational paradigm must also occur” (p. 75).

PARADIGMS OF DIVERSITY

Based on their research in private sector organizations, Thomas and
Ely (1996) identified three theoretical paradigms for understanding diver-
sity: discrimination-and-fairness, access-and-legitimacy, and learning-
and-effectiveness (see Figure 1). These models are also useful for under-
standing public agencies’ approaches to diversity and provide the basis for
developing strategies to benefit from a diverse workforce.4

Selden, Selden / RETHINKING DIVERSITY IN ORGANIZATIONS 309

PARADIGM 1: DISCRIMINATION-AND-FAIRNESS

The discrimination-and-fairness paradigm focuses on whether minori-
ties and women are given an equal chance of obtaining employment in
public organizations. According to this paradigm, public organizations
pursue diversity under the guise of equality and fairness and are concerned
primarily with compliance with EEO and affirmative action legal require-
ments (Thomas & Ely, 1996). The primary goals of organizations adher-
ing to this paradigm are to provide access and equal opportunity in the
recruiting and hiring processes. Success is determined by the number of
minorities and women holding positions within the agency. According to
Thomas and Ely (1996), organizations operating under this premise often

310 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / July 2001

Environment

Inputs

Internal Processes Outcomes/Outputs

Discrimination- Learning-and Access-and
and-fairness effectiveness legitimacy
paradigm paradigm paradigm

Multicultural Organization: Valuing-and-Integrating

Legal Environment Changing nature of services & Stakeholder demands
demographic labor pool

Internal Dynamics

Innovation
Creativity of ideas
Decision making
Range of perspectives
Communication
Identification with group
Group social integration
Perceived discrimination
Supervisor’s affect for subordinate
Role conflict
Turnover

Figure 1: Paradigms of Diversity Within Public Organizations

adopt a “color-blind, gender-blind” ideal, encouraging minorities and
women to blend into the culture of the organization.

Because this model focuses on descriptive representation and assimila-
tion of persons into the organizational cultures, agencies adhering to this
model are not likely to explore how employees’ differences can improve
organizational processes and outcomes. Moreover, the discrimination-
and-fairness model often puts pressure on employees “to make sure that
important differences among them do not count” (Thomas & Ely, 1996,
p. 81). This may serve to undermine potential benefits that an organization
may experience through improved agency processes and practices. More-
over, it may preclude individuals from identifying with their work and
agency which, in turn, has been shown to be an important determinant of
motivation and satisfaction (Thomas & Ely, 1996).

Relevant Empirical Research

The central question of interest to agencies adopting this model is the
extent to which the agency reflects the demographic origins of society. A
primary concern, of course, is the determination of which demographic
characteristics are most important to public organizations. Kingsley (1944)
suggested that socioeconomic class should be the basis for comparing
bureaucrats and citizens in England. Krislov (1974) argued, however, that
race, ethnicity, and gender were more relevant than class for comparing
the composition of the bureaucracy and society in the United States. Over-
all, the literature has reached a consensus that race and ethnicity are per-
haps the most important demographic characteristics for comparing
bureaucratic and public representation in the United States (Cayer &
Sigelman, 1980; Dye & Renick, 1981; Herbert, 1974; Kranz, 1976;
Krislov, 1974; Meier, 1975, 1993b; Nachmias & Rosenbloom, 1973;
Rosenbloom & Featherstonhaugh, 1977; Rosenbloom & Kinnard, 1977;
Smith, 1980; Thompson, 1976, 1978).

Scholars also maintain that gender is a critical demographic variable in
the American bureaucratic setting (Cayer & Sigelman, 1980; Daley, 1984;
Davis & West, 1985; Dye & Renick, 1981; Hale & Kelly, 1989; Kranz,
1976; Krislov, 1974; Meier, 1975, 1993b; Nachmias & Rosenbloom,
1973; Rosenbloom & Kinnard, 1977; Smith, 1980; Thompson, 1978).
The movement in the 1980s to make public bureaucracies more gender
representative resulted from changing relations between men and women,
the changing nature of the economy, and the increased participation of

Selden, Selden / RETHINKING DIVERSITY IN ORGANIZATIONS 311

women in the labor force (Duerst-Lahti & Johnson, 1992; Guy &
Duerst-Lahti, 1992; Guy & Duke, 1992; Hale & Kelly, 1989).

Researchers have examined a number of other demographic factors,
such as age, disabilities, and father’s occupation (Daley, 1984; Davis &
West, 1985; Meier, 1975; Meier & Nigro, 1976; Smith, 1980). However,
in the American context, race, ethnicity, and gender have been considered
the most salient characteristics because numerous politically relevant atti-
tudes and values are defined along these two dimensions (Meier, 1993b).

Typically, scholars have employed one of the following methods to
evaluate the racial, ethnic, and gender representativeness of public
bureaucracies:5

• percentage comparison,
• representative index,
• stratified ratio,
• aggregate representation ratio, or
• measure of variation (MV).

Each of these advances a somewhat different perspective on representa-
tion of minorities and women in public organizations. Table 3 presents a
description of each approach. The representative index is unique in that
the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 uses it as a measure to determine
underrepresentation of minorities. Although different techniques have
been used to measure female and minority representation, the findings
have been relatively consistent. Although minorities and women are
broadly represented in local, state, and federal agencies, they are concen-
trated in lower level positions and have not advanced as successfully into
top-level decision-making positions. One argument often presented is that
minorities and women are in the pipeline for promotions. However, many
women and minorities have been in the system long enough to advance but
have not. This may be due to the fact that “many agencies appeared to be
concentrating more on increasing the intake of minorities than on strong
programs for advancement of minorities who already are members of the
Federal workforce” (U.S. MSPB, 1993, p. 24).

PARADIGM 2: ACCESS-AND-LEGITIMACY

The second lens through which organizations have viewed diversity is
access-and-legitimacy (Thomas & Ely, 1996). According to this per-

312 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / July 2001

Selden, Selden / RETHINKING DIVERSITY IN ORGANIZATIONS 313

TABLE 3

Measures of Employment Equality

Method Description

Percentage comparison Percentage of a group within the organization

Representative indexa
% of a group within the organization

% of a group within the relevant population

A ratio of 1.0 indicates that the composition of the
organization corresponds perfectly with the relevant
population.

Stratified ratio
% of a group within the upper level of the organization

% of a group within the relevant population

A ratio of 1.0 indicates that the composition of the
organization corresponds perfectly with the relevant
population.

Aggregate representation ratio
% of a group within workforce

% of a group within the relevant population

+
% of a group within upper level appointments

% of a group within the relevant population

A ratio of 1.0 indicates that the composition of the
organization corresponds perfectly with the relevant
population.

Measure of variation (MV)
Σf f

n n f

n

i j

t( )
*

,
−1

2

2

where f is the number of individuals of a certain race or
ethnicity, i, j, k, . . ., n is the number of racial or
ethnic groups considered, and ft is the total number of
employees in the agency.

The MV is estimated by dividing the observed number
of racial/ethnic differences in an agency by the
“maximum number of differences that could occur
given the total number of employees in the agency and
equal representation of each racial/ethnic group”
(Kellough, 1990, p. 558).

The closer the MV score is to 1, the more equally
represented are the groups under investigation.

a. This measure has also been referenced as the representative ratio (Sigelman & Karnig,
1976), measure of employment parity (Mladenka, 1991; Saltzstein, 1986), and equal
employment opportunity index (W. G. Lewis, 1989).

spective, agencies value diversity because it enables them to provide
better access and services to their constituents. This paradigm organizes
itself around differentiation. Under this framework, the virtue of diversity
is based on the fact that each group can offer knowledge about group
members and can better serve their needs because of such knowledge and
shared group experiences. For example, in the mid-1950s, the Farmers
Home Administration (FmHA) responded to allegations that the agency
was discriminating against African American borrowers. The FmHA
placed African American professionals in several southern states to serve
as “‘supervisors-at-large’ to initiate loan applications for blacks in offices
where local supervisors were unwilling to do so” (Hadwiger, 1973, p. 51).
Agencies with increasing diversity expect that previously underrepre-
sented clients will feel more comfortable accessing agency resources and
services when they are represented (Thielemann & Stewart, 1996). One
reason for this phenomenon is that individuals who share similar individ-
ual characteristics may also hold similar values and attitudes, have com-
mon experiences, and therefore find the experience of interacting with
each other more positive. Thielemann and Stewart (1996, p. 171) found
evidence that clients of HIV service delivery agencies have a demand for a
representative bureaucracy, particularly among personnel delivering the
service directly.

Students of representative bureaucracy also suggest that bureaucracies
broadly representative of the general public should produce policy outputs
that meet the needs of all citizens (Meier, 1993b). Agencies adhering to
this view of diversity tend to emphasize the role of cultural differences in
the agency, but they pay little attention to how these differences impact the
work that is actually done (Thomas & Ely, 1996). For example, an agency
may be concerned with Hispanic representation because it perceives that
Hispanic clients will be better served by someone from a similar back-
ground. As long as the clients and constituents are represented substan-
tively and allegations about service and program inequalities are being
reduced, agencies are satisfied.

One potential downside of this perspective, according to Thomas and
Ely (1996), is that employees working in organizations operating with this
philosophy may sometimes feel exploited and devalued. Because employ-
ees were hired with the expectation of meeting the needs of clients in par-
ticular areas, they may perceive that opportunities in other parts of the
agency are closed to them or that they face dual and conflicting role expec-
tations (Selden, 1997; Thomas & Ely, 1996).

314 ADMINISTRATION & SOCIETY / July 2001

Relevant Empirical Research

Most of the inquiry under this paradigm is concerned with the relation-
ship between employment of minorities and women and agency outputs
and outcomes affecting these groups. Specifically, research has examined
the relationship between demographic representation and disciplinary
actions and ability groupings in school systems, charges or complaints of
discrimination filed by a regulatory agency, and housing loan eligibility
determinations made by a federal agency (Hindera, 1993a, 1993b; Meier,
1993a; Meier & Stewart, 1992; Meier et al., 1999; Selden, 1997).

In the first study linking demographic representation and policy out-
comes, Meier and Stewart (1992) found that the increased presence of
African American street-level bureaucrats (e.g., school teachers) had a
significant effect on policy outcomes favoring African American stu-
dents. In a similar approach, Hindera (1993b) focused on African Ameri-
cans and women in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC). He found that as the employment of African Americans in the
EEOC increased, discrimination charges filed on behalf of that group also
increased. Selden (1997) found that as the employment of African Ameri-
cans, Hispanics, and Asians Americans increased in the FmHA, the per-
centage of rural housing loan eligibility determinations favoring each
group increased.

PARADIGM 3: LEARNING-AND-EFFECTIVENESS

In effect, the third paradigm, learning-and-effectiveness, bridges the
two aforementioned paradigms. Agencies adopting this perspective value
diversity because it improves internal processes by incorporating the var-
ied perspectives and approaches to work that different group members
offer an organization (Milliken & Martins, 1996). Agencies operating
under this frame seek to integrate, as opposed to assimilate or differenti-
ate, diverse individuals within the agency. This model is founded on
understanding and valuing the notion that cultural differences exist.
Diversity may affect work groups’ ability to “process information, per-
ceive and interpret stimuli, and make decisions” (Milliken & Martins,
1996, p. 416). Nemeth (1986) contended that the logic underlying major-
ity decisions is superior when consistent counterarguments are made by
minority groups. Studies of undergraduate and graduate work groups have
shown that diversity affects the number of alternative scenarios consid-

Selden, Selden / RETHINKING DIVERSITY IN ORGANIZATIONS 315

ered, quality and creativity of ideas, and the extent of cooperation among
group members (Cox, Lobel, & McLeod, 1991; McLeod & Lobel, 1992;
Watson, Kumar, & Michaelsen, 1993). According to Thomas and Ely
(1996), agencies adopting this approach are “tapping diversity’s true ben-
efits” (p. 85), which will increase agency effectiveness, lift employee
morale, and enhance productivity.

Relevant Empirical Research

Scholars suggest that work group diversity promotes creativity and
innovativeness in the quality of ideas, problem solving, and decision mak-
ing (McLeod & Lobel, 1992; Rice, 1994). McLeod and Lobel (1992)
found that more ethnically diverse groups produced higher quality and
more unique ideas in a brainstorming task than did less diverse groups.
Despite a growing need for knowledge about the effects of diversity in the
daily operations of public organizations, relatively little systematic
research has been done to explore how race, ethnicity, and gender have
influenced specific internal work processes. One process that has been
examined is performance appraisals, but the findings are mixed (G. B.
Lewis, 1997; Pulakos, Oppler, White, & Borman, 1989; Sackett &
DuBois, 1991). Some research has illustrated that raters genera

draft

Diversity management:
a systematic review
Shatrughan Yadav and Usha Lenka

Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee,
Roorkee, India

Abstract

Purpose – Diversity management plays a significant role in the organization’s outcomes. This study seeks to
provide a brief review of the history of diversity management and to identify the articles published on diversity
management since 1991. A systematic review of the literature has been carried out to understand the literature
in more detail to know the future scope of research.
Design/methodology/approach – This study provides a comprehensive systematic review of quantitative,
qualitative and theoretical studies published in leading peer-reviewed management journals from 1991 to 2018
and identifies 123 articles that fall within its established search inclusion criteria.
Findings – The literature review highlighted several aspects related to diversity management. The findings of
the study revealed that there is a high concentration of researches in the USA and most number of articles
published in the Academy of Management Journal. Although diversity management is a very emerging topic
across the globe in management literature yet there is a lack of research in developed countries. Furthermore,
most studies are found empirical in nature and the majority of the studies were published during the period of
1996–2000. This finding suggests that age, gender and racial diversity have been repeatedly discussed in
diversity management research while other forms of diversity have given less attention
Originality/value – This study is one of the first systematic studies that describe the in-depth analysis of
diversity management literature. The significant contribution of this study is to propose the integrated model
with contemporary trends and patterns of results reported in diversity research, as well as contextual factors
that have received more attention to date.

Keywords Demographic diversity, Diversity management, Systematic literature review, Workforce diversity

Paper type Literature review

1. Introduction
Socio-cultural and economic transformations, along with economic liberalization,
globalization and changing preferences of customers, have substantially increased
workforce diversity, which forces organizations to make their workforce more diverse,
innovative and competitive (Cook and Glass, 2009). Innovative workforce can be ensured by
hiring multiple talents from different backgrounds for providing better products and services
to the customer and clients (Salau et al., 2018). However, challenges of a diverse workforce are
umpteen, which arise due to differences in the workplace. To successfully manage the
challenges of a diverse workforce, organizations have emphasized understanding the root
cause of diversity and found that diversity management can address the problem and
enhance problem-solving and decision-making power (Pelled, 1996). Therefore, organizations
have made a huge investment into managing diversity effectively and also over the past three
decades a plethora of diversity research has examined the positive impact of diversity on
performance, creativity, innovation, problem-solving and decision-making skills (Elsass and
Graves, 1997; Yang and Konrad, 2010), as well as the adverse impact on group cohesion,
conflicts and turnover (Roberson, 2019).

The purpose of diversity management is to enhance the performance of a heterogeneous
workforce and inclusive development of people with differences in gender, ethnicity,
nationality, cultural and educational backgrounds. The reason for heterogeneity in the

Diversity
management: a

systematic
review

901

The authors would like to express their gratitude to the anonymous reviewers and Editor for their
valuable inputs to publish this article.

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:

https://www.emerald.com/insight/2040-7149.htm

Received 3 July 2019
Revised 19 December 2019

27 February 2020
Accepted 13 April 2020

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:
An International Journal

Vol. 39 No. 8, 2020
pp. 901-929

© Emerald Publishing Limited
2040-7149

DOI 10.1108/EDI-07-2019-0197

workforce is the recruitment of ethnic minorities, women, underrepresented groups and the
migration of people in search of job opportunities (Tsui et al., 1992). Each individual has
unique knowledge, which needs to be recognized by organizations for their holistic
development. Conclusively, diversity management plays a massive role in knowledge
sharing and the overall development of organizations. Several studies have discussed the
relationship between diversity and performance of an organization. To understand and
manage the dynamics of workforce diversity researchers have remarkably explored the
outcomes of diversity at an individual level (Chatman and Flynn, 2001), group level
(Schippers et al., 2003; Leslie, 2017) and organization level (Richard and Johnson, 2001;
Armstrong et al., 2010). Individual-level outcomes are such as commitment, absenteeism,
satisfaction and turnover (Tsui et al., 1992). The group-level outcomes are conflict, cohesion,
creativity, group performance and idea generation (Williams and O’Reilly, 1998). Finally, the
organizational-level outcomes are financial performance, productivity and firm
competitiveness (Cox and Blake, 1991; Richard, 2000).

Researchers have performed studies and found that diversity management positively
influences organizational effectiveness and firm performance (Watson et al., 1993; Richard
et al., 2004). In contrast, some studies have reported that diversity has negative effects like
social exclusion, miscommunication, conflicts and turnover (Williams and O’Reilly, 1998). In a
meta-analysis of 24 studies, Webber and Donahue (2001) found that neither type of diversity
had a relationship with group cohesion and performance. Similarly, Horwitz and Horwitz
(2007) found that job-oriented diversity has a positive impact on team performance, whereas
demographic diversity was not significantly associated with team performance. The
inconsistencies in several studies have led researchers to report diversity as a “double-edged
sword” (Milliken and Martins, 1996; Williams and O’Reilly, 1998). These mixed findings can
be attributed to different contextual factors, which suggests that diversity research should be
context-specific (Joshi and Roh, 2009). Because of inconsistencies that have widely ignored in
the tradition review paper, there is a need for a systematic review of the literature.

This study has not designed in any particular country context and only summarized the
previous findings of diversity, dimensions of diversity and suggests gaps and new avenues
for research. Moreover, previous studies have only focused on particular areas of diversity
(e.g., cultural and racial diversity) while largely ignoring diversity and its types like
workplace diversity, organizational diversity, informational diversity and relational
demography. Hence, this study includes overall diversity and its dimension to broaden the
scope for future studies. This study intensely reviews a large number of articles in
comparison to other review papers to report a clearer and more comprehensive picture of
diversity. Conclusively, the research in the area of workforce diversity has rapidly increased
in the last two decades. However, there are still certain research questions remain, which our
study intends to address through the following research objectives:

Objective 1: To explore dimensions of diversity from past literature.

Objective 2: To identify the different antecedents, consequences and contextual factors to
propose an integrative model of diversity management.

Objective 3: To identify emerging issues in diversity research and suggest avenues for
future research.

2. Literature review
Thissection presents theevolution ofdiversity management, the conceptualization ofdiversity,
and dimensions of diversity given by several authors in different contexts accordingly.

EDI
39,8

902

2.1 Evolution of diversity management
Diversity management is the business strategy adopted by organizations to recruitment,
retention and inclusive development of individuals from a variety of backgrounds (Thomas,
1991). The concept has become increasingly important due to globalization and the migration
of people across the globe (Al Ariss and Sidani, 2016). Roosevelt Thomas has coined the term
diversity management in the year 1990 in the context of the USA and gradually, it dispersed
over the world (Kelly and Dobbin, 1998). The history behind the theory of diversity
management goes long back when affirmative action (AA) plans and equal employment
opportunities (EEO) act were incorporated through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in
the USA (Kelly and Dobbin, 1998). Prior to the 1990s, studies were conducted on the topic of
affirmative action programs and equal employment opportunity but after the emergence of
diversity management, researchers have gradually moved into cross-cultural diversity
research (Cox, 1991). The issue of diversity was completely ignored in organizations;
however, workplace diversity had become a critical issue in the year 1987 when the Hudson
Institute of USA published the report “Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the
Twenty-First Century” (Johnson and Packer, 1987). To understand the problems of
increasing diversity in the organizations’ researchers have defined diversity in different ways
and conceptualized the diversity with support of different theories, which has discussed in
the following sections.

2.2 Conceptualization of diversity
Different authors have defined diversity, yet there is no single definition accepted globally.
Diversity is all about differences and dissimilarities among people. Although an organization
claims to be relatively homogenous, yet employees vary along with social identity
characteristics such as demographic variables (i.e., age, gender, race and ethnicity), values,
beliefs or cultural backgrounds (Weber et al., 2018). According to Williams and O’Reilly (1998,
p. 81), diversity is defined as “any attributes that people use to tell themselves that another
person is different.” Whereas Jackson et al. (2003) defined diversity as the differences in
personal attributes among individual members in the workgroup.

Diversity has been recognized as an immeasurable number of attributes like age, gender,
race, etc. based on which individuals may differ from each other. The heterogeneity in
diversity research has been explained with the help of underlying theories like social identity
(Tajfel and Turner, 1979), similarity-attraction (Byrne, 1971), and self-categorization (Turner
et al., 1987). These theories have been differentiated based on the perspectives of social and
personal identity of individuals. The social identity of an individual depends on group
membership, while personal identity is less or more independent of group memberships. The
self-categorization theory is referred that an individual engages in a group based on social
comparisons like status, income and education to differentiate between their in-groups and
others into different relevant groups (Turner et al., 1987). Whereas social identity theory states
that individuals’ perceptions classify themselves into social groups based on certain
attributes (e.g., age, race and gender) (Tajfel and Turner, 1979). Similarity-attraction theory
highlights that as individuals are likely to be attracted toward those who possess similar
attributes and attitudes, and in contrast, they feel challenging with others who have dissimilar
attitudes, values and experiences (Byrne, 1971). Collectively, these theories offer the
conceptual foundation of relational demography theory (Tsui et al., 1992), which proposes that
demographic attributes within work units will highly influence an individual’s behavior and
attitudes. Conclusively, these theories address the negative perspective of diversity in
workgroups related to diversity such as race, gender, age, nationality. However, these theories
suggest that a homogenous group of people are more productive and have less conflict rather
than diverse teams due to attraction toward in-group members with similar characteristics.

Diversity
management: a

systematic
review

903

Accordingly, these mentioned theories suggest that diversity may be negatively associated
with organizational performance and firm effectiveness (Pelled et al., 1999).

Optimistic researchers have argued that diversity can have a potential advantage to the
organizations. The positive viewpoint was supported by information decision-making
(Willimas and O’Reilly, 1998), upper echelon theory (Hambrick and Mason, 1984), and
integration learning perspective (Ely and Thomas, 2001). These theories have argued that
dissimilarity among group members results in the dissemination of knowledge, ideas, skills
and perspective, which enhances creativity, problem-solving capabilities, thereby improving
the quality of group performance, firm effectiveness and organizational performance. The
same concept has been reaffirmed by the upper echelon theory, which states that top
management team diversity has a positive impact on organizational outcomes due to diverse
experience, backgrounds and value systems (Knight et al., 1999; Simons et al., 1999). Diversity
in top management will help in improving the overall performance of all employees. The
performance is measured in terms of financial performance (e.g., return on equity, return on
investment, sales growth and productivity) and nonfinancial performance (e.g., employee
satisfaction, quality and quantity). Conclusively, researchers have found both positive and
negative effects of diversity on organizational outcomes (Milliken and Martins, 1996).

A review of 40 years of extant literature has been carried out to understand the dynamics
of literature on diversity management, which concluded that diversity has dual nature and
inconsistent findings (Willimas and O’Reilly, 1998). However, to overcome the inconsistency
and the inappropriate relationship between workgroup diversity and performance, a
categorization-elaboration model (CEM) was proposed by van Knippenberg et al. (2004). To
understand the combined effects of diversity on group performance, this model integrates
both positive and negative perspectives of theory and reconceptualize the two contradicting
viewpoints of diversity into a unified framework. Therefore, CEM has integrated the social
categorization and information decision-making theory and incorporated mediator and
moderator variables in a single framework to mitigate the negative effects of diversity, which
have typically been ignored in prior studies.

2.3 Exploring dimensions of diversity
To review the dimensions of diversity studied in diversity management, an extensive and
in-depth review of literature has been carried out. Diversity has been categorized into readily
detectable and underlying attributes (Jackson et al., 1995). Another typology categorized
diversity based on observable and underlying attributes (Milliken and Martins, 1996).
Observable attributes are age, gender, race, nationality, while underlying attributes are
personality, education, tenure, etc. Readily-detectable and observable attributes are similar
and highlight the same attributes. Another classification of diversity is categorized as high
visible (age, gender, race) and less visible dimensions like tenure, education and functional
background (Pelled, 1996). Further, in the sequel of studies, diversity has been categorized as
surface-level diversity and deep-level diversity by Harrison et al. (1998). Surface-level
diversity is observable attributes that can be easily identified based on physical features,
whereas deep-level diversity defines underlying attributes that are hidden, such as attitudes,
personality and values, etc. The aforementioned typologies of diversity have been proposed
through a 2 3 2 matrix that categorizes the different dimensions of diversity. Table 1 depicts
the typology of different dimensions of diversity, whereas Figure 1 represents the pictorial
descriptions of the evolution of diversity management and different types of dimensions of
diversity discussed by several researchers.

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3. Research methodology
A systematic review of the extant literature on diversity management was carried out
through relevant search of keywords. The systematic review is a transparent process to
synthesize and disseminate evidence by minimizing the bias through an exhaustive search of
published literature (Tranfield et al., 2003). Specific keywords like “workplace diversity,”
“diversity management,” ”workforce diversity,” “heterogeneous workforce” and “managing
diversity” were searched, followed by certain inclusion and exclusion criteria. Search criteria
included articles written in the English language and published in peer-reviewed journals
from 1991 to 2018. This period was chosen because the term diversity management was
coined in 1990, and a 28-year time span would be sufficient to uncover the early roots of
studies about diversity management. Initially, to access the relevant articles from diversity
research, the authors searched relevant databases (Google Scholar, Emeralds, Scopus, SAGE
and JSTOR). Besides, the reference lists of relevant articles to the area were manually
searched in located additional journals of Wiley, Springer and APA PsycNET. Further, a
chapter by Jackson et al. (1995) is also included, which is most cited and referred to in diversity
research. Through all these processes a total of 1787 articles were identified directly from the
search database, and 68 papers were selected through cross-referencing. Moreover, the total
articles were very large in number and not related to diversity management, and were
excluded. However, the diversity term has been used in numerous fields (e.g., biodiversity,
nursing, social policy, etc.), but this review primarily focuses on being more specific to
research in human resource management, organizational behavior and psychology. The
paper related to diversity management practices, programs, training and policies were also
excluded because our main objective was to identify the antecedents, consequences,
moderators and mediators studied in the previous literature. All research notes, short articles,
book reviews, conference proceedings and news were excluded from this study. A total of 265
articles were retrieved in the Zotero software, where after the screening, 43 articles were
duplicates. Finally, 222 full-text articles were assessed in which 99 articles were not relevant.
Out of 222 papers, 123 articles were included in the final study. The final selection of articles
included in this study was categorized into four different steps: Identification, Screening,
Eligibility and Inclusion. Figure 2 clearly depicts the preferred reporting items for systematic
reviews and meta-analysis (PRISMA) diagrams of selected articles.

Consequently, each article was placed in a Microsoft Excel file and information like the
publication year, journal’s name, country, study type, antecedents, consequences, mediator
and moderator variables were manually analyzed and entered. The articles were looking for
terms like gender, age, ethnicity, workforce diversity, organizational diversity, team diversity
and diversity management. This study has also examined the type of industry, respondents
and methodology adopted in empirical studies. This process has been repeatedly carried out

Surface-level diversity Deep-level diversity

Job-oriented attributes Organizational tenure Knowledge
Team tenure Skills
Educational background Experience
Functional background Abilities
Occupational background

Relations oriented attributes Sex Values
Age Personality
Race/ethnicity Social status
Nationality Attitude
Religion

Table 1.
Typology of diversity

dimensions

Diversity
management: a

systematic
review

905

in all 123 articles and categorized into different themes. This discussion analyzes the
outcomes of diversity at the individual, group and organizational levels to differentiate the
effects of diversity. With this procedure, a complete picture of extant literature has
represented in the findings section, which will help in developing the integrated model of
diversity management.

4. Results
In order to develop a complete conceptual overview, a systematic review of 123 research
articles has been carried out in this section, which depicts a comprehensive analysis of the
included literature.

Managing Diversity 1980

Title VII of Civil Rights Act,

1964 in USA

Affirmative Action Law Equal Employment Opportunity

Hudson report “Workforce 2000”

by (Johnston & Packer, 1987)

Diversity Management (Roosevelt.

Thomas Jr., 1990)

Harrison, Price &

Bell, 1998

Surface Level Diversity
Age, Sex, Race, Ethnicity

Deep Level Diversity
Attitudes, Knowledge, Values, Skills

Pelled ,

1996
Dimensions of Diversity

High Visibility
Age, Gender, Race

Low Visibility
Group, Tenure, Educational and

Functional Background

Milliken &

Martins, 1996

Observable Attributes
Race, Age, Gender, Ethnicity,

Nationality

Underlying Attributes
Personality, Socioeconomic,

Functional, Educational, &

Occupational background, Tenure

Jackson, May, &

Whitney, 1995

Readily Detectable

Attributes

Underlying

Attributes

Task Related
Organization & Team

Tenure, Educational

Task Related
Knowledge, Skills,

Abilities, Experience

Relations Oriented
Social status, Attitudes,

Values, Personality

Relations Oriented
Age, Sex, Race,

Ethnicity, Nationality

Figure 1.
Flow chart of the
evolution of diversity
management and
dimensions of diversity

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4.1 Journal wise distribution of literature
The final sample consists of a total of 123 articles drawn from 30 peer-reviewed journals
published between 1991 and 2018 and dispersed in a five-year time interval. The last interval
includes only three years of publications (2016–2018). The most frequently published papers
in this discipline were identified in the following orders: Academy of Management Journal
(16), Journal of Organizational Behavior (12), Journal of Management (8) and Academy of
Management Review (7). A maximum of 16 papers was published in the Academy of
Management Journal (AMJ). One of the reasons for the maximum number of publications in
AMJ may be the foundation of diversity as a field of study within the Academy of
Management (AOM) while another reason is the formalization of women in the management

Automatic Search Process

Database: References

Google Scholar- 672

JSTOR- 222

Scopus- 309

Sage- 584

Additional record from Elsevier,

Emeralds, Springer, Annual Reviews,

PsycNET, and Wiley Library

identified through reference section

of included papers

Total number of records identify

database search

(n = 1787)

Total no of records

(n = 68)

Total number of records after

screening on the basis of Title,

Abstract and Keyword (TAK)

(n = 213)

Articles after screening on

basis of Title, Abstract and

Keyword (TAK) (n = 52)

Excluded: 16
Excluded:

1574

Uploaded all file in Zotero software

Records after removing duplication

n = 265
Duplicates

n = 43

Full articles studies assessed for eligibility

n = 222

Total articles included in review paper

N = 123

Identification

Screening

Eligibility

Full articles

excluded n = 99

Included

Figure 2.
PRISMA flow diagram

Diversity
management: a

systematic
review

907

research group and establishment of “Gender and Diversity in Organisations Division” in
AOM in the year 1988 (Nkomo et al., 2019). The following rest publications in other journals
have been depicted in Table 2.

Journal title
1991–
1995

1996–
2000

2001–
2005

2006–
2010

2011–
2015

2016–
2018

Total
articles %

Academy of Management
Journal

3 6 3 2 2 16 13.01

Journal of Organizational
Behavior

1 1 5 3 2 12 9.76

Journal of Management 3 1 3 1 8 6.5
Academy of Management
Review

6 1 7 5.69

Academy of Management
Executive

2 3 1 6 4.88

Administrative Science
Quarterly

1 3 2 6 4.88

Group and Organization
Management

1 1 1 1 2 6 4.88

Journal of Applied
Psychology

1 1 1 2 1 6 4.88

Human Relations 1 2 2 5 4.07
International Journal of
Hospitality Management

3 2 5 4.07

Journal of Managerial Issues 2 1 2 5 4.07
Public Administration
Review

1 2 2 5 4.07

Human Resource
Management

1 2 1 4 3.25

Public Administration
Quarterly

1 3 4 3.25

Public Personnel
Management

3 3 2.44

Academy of Management
Learning and Education

1 1 2 1.63

Cornell Hospitality Quarterly 1 1 2 1.63
Cross-Cultural and Strategic
Management

2 2 1.63

Employee Relations 1 1 2 1.63
Human Resource
Management Review

1 1 2 1.63

Journal of Business Ethics 2 2 1.63
Organizational Science 1 1 2 1.63
Organizational Behavior and
Human Decision Processes

1 1 2 1.63

Personal Review 1 1 2 1.63
Strategic Management
Journal

1 1 2 1.63

Annual Review of
Psychology

1 1 0.81

Public Organization Review 1 1 0.81
Research in Organizational
Behavior

1 1 0.81

Sage Open 1 1 0.81
Team Effectiveness and
Decision making in
Organizations

1 1 0.81

Total 13 29 18 24 25 14 123 100.0

Table 2.
Distribution of papers
based on journal and
time period

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4.2 Distribution based on year of publications
The objective of this section was to categorize the articles according to publication year and
know the year wise trends of published articles. Figure 3 delineates the year-wise publication
of papers that found a maximum of nine papers in the year 1996, and a minimum of 1 article
was published in 2002. Surprisingly, our analysis of results shows that from the year 1991–
2002, there was a huge variation in the published papers because sometimes the number of
papers has decreased and sometimes increased. However, if we leave the exceptional case in
the year 2005, 2008 and 2014, it can be seen an average of four publications per year that
represents the interest in diversity management discipline is gradually increasing,
particularly from 2003 onward. Especially in the last ten years, there has been a
considerable increment in the number of published articles. The increasing interest in
diversity discipline has also been confirmed by a recently published article on diversity in
Annual Reviews by Roberson (2019).

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10
1
9

9
1

1
9

9
2

1
9

9
3

1
9

9
4

1
9

9
5

1
9

9
6

1
9

9
7

1
9

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8

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9

9
9

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1
8

N
u

m
b

e
r

o
f

P
u

b
li

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ti

o
n

s
Year Wise Distribution of Articles

Country
1991–
1995

1996–
2000

2001–
2005

2006–
2010

2011–
2015

2016–
2018 Total %

USA 9 26 13 14 12 6 80 65.04
Canada 2 1 2 1 1 1 8 6.5
Netherland 2 2 2 1 7 5.69
United
Kingdom

4 3 7 5.69

Australia 2 1 1 1 5 4.07
India 1 1 1 3 2.44
Ireland 1 1 2 1.63
Germany 1 1 2 1.62
China 1 1 0.81
Cyprus 1 1 0.81
France 1 1 0.81
Hong Kong 1 1 0.81
Japan 1 1 0.81
Korea 1 1 0.81
Malaysia 1 1 0.81
Taiwan 1 1 0.81
Thailand 1 1 0.81
Total 13 29 18 24 25 14 123 100.0

Figure 3.
Number of

publications on
diversity management

Table 3.
Country-wise and time-

period based
distribution of papers

Diversity
management: a

systematic
review

909

4.3 Country and time period-based classification of articles
The purpose of this section was to identify the country, which has published the maximum
number of articles in diversity research and why? It was easy to identify the country in the
empirical paper based on collected data from the respondent’s countries, while in the
conceptual paper, it was identified through the country of affiliation of the corresponding
author. Table 3 represents the segregation of 123 published papers in seventeen countries. 65
% of papers were published from the USA while 35 % of remaining papers have been
published from Canada (6.5 %), Netherland (5.6 %), UK (5.6%), Australia (4.07%) and India
(2.44%). A large number of research papers have been published from the USA due to the
migration of labor forces, ethnic minorities and underrepresented groups in search of job
opportunities, which may not be relevant in other national contexts (Schippers et al., 2003). In
addition, the growing body of research published from the USA is due to the participation of
members and the presence of women in the Academy of Management annual programs
organized in the USA (Nkomo et al., 2019). The year-wise segregation of Table 3 depicts that
at an early stage only five countries USA, Canada, Netherlands, Australia and Ireland have
reviewed the problems of workforce diversity whereas similar problems have been
encountered by the rest of the countries after the year 2005 and gradually they have also
picked up research in this domain. Moreover, this finding is very similar to Joshi and Roh
(2007), who have found 57% of the studies reviewed in the American context. Lesser number
of studies in a country like India and China show that there should more research on diversity
management because these are emerging countries and several MNCs are expanding their
business markets.

4.4 Industry-wise classification of articles
The objective of industry-wise classification of articles was to identify the specific industry,
where the highest number of research problems have been conducted. Diversity research-
related data were collected from 29 industries. The significant industries include academic
university (15.52), public sectors (12.07), hotels and restaurants (6.03), IT industry (6.03),
manufacturing industry (6.03) and mix industry (8.62) respectively depicted in Table 4. The
findings of Table 4 suggest that business schools and universities were the most influential
industry where researchers have conducted the study and examined the effects of diversity in
laboratories and classroom studies. One of the reasons for the maximum number of papers
that have been published in academic universities may be due

draft

Final Project Draft

From the options provided in the topic selection, I have chosen the United States Postal Service (USPS) for my final paper.

1. What are the main activities of this organization?

The United States Postal Service is an independent governmental agency that provides postal service in every nook and cranny of the United States. The main work of the organization is to deliver the mail safely, but the work of this organization isn’t limited to just delivering the mail; instead, it has extended the services for social responsibility, business services, and government services. Under social responsibility, the postal service is committed to providing sustainability of service. The organization is investing in new technology and vehicles to provide effective and prompt service to society and its people. The environment has always been a concern area for USPS as it carries out environmental compliance reviews in different parts of the country and uses the gathered information for the betterment of its environmental activities. Not only this, but USPS also provides training and required information on the site to its employees. Other activities include helping find missing children. The organization has been involved in numerous community activities to enhance the community by educating and supporting in many fields, from helping to fundraise, organizing bone marrow donor programs, and also helping find missing children. They also conduct dog bite awareness weeks as almost 5,800 USPS employees were attacked by dogs in the year 2020. Similarly, USPS performs several government services, like providing tax forms, providing passport services, election mail, political mail, etc.

2. Where is it located? What geography does it serve?

The headquarters of the United States Postal Service is located in Washington, D.C., but the service of the organization doesn’t end there. Currently, the organization runs almost 31,000 post offices in the United States and provides services to people nationwide. Therefore, the working area of USPS isn’t limited to one specific geographical area.

3. What is the mission statement of the organization?

The mission statements of this organization are listed below:

a. To serve the American people and, through the universal service obligation, bind our nation together by maintaining and operating our unique, vital, and resilient infrastructure.

b. To provide trusted, safe and secure communications and services between our Government and the American people, businesses and their customers, and the American people with each other.

c. To serve all areas of the nation while making full use of evolving technologies.

4. Was it easy to find the diversity statement on the website? Was it located somewhere visible on the homepage, or did you have to dig for it?

I didn’t have to dig more on the website as the diversity statement was found easily in the careers section of the organization. Although it was not visible on the homepage, it wasn’t that difficult to search for. Under the careers section, I found the information related to diversity and inclusion in “Working at USPS.” The organization states diversity and inclusion as their main factors to success.

 

I have listed 10 readings that I intend to use in my final paper in the reference section.

Reference:

https://about.usps.com/

Bourke, Smith, Stockton, & Wakefild (2014). From diversity to inclusion

Yadav & Lenka (2020). Diversity Management: A Systematic Review

French (2009). Employment laws and the public sector employer: Lessons to be learned from a review of lawsuits filed against local governments.

Saidel, & Loscocco (2005). Agency leaders, gendered institutions, and representative bureaucracy.

Selden & Selden (2001). Rethinking diversity in public organizations for the 21st century: Moving toward a multicultural model

DiMillo et al. (2021). Addressing race in the workplace: Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Roberts & Mayo (2019). Towards a racially just workplace.

Feeney & Camarena (2021). Gender, race, and diversity values among local government leaders.
 

Bishu & Headly (2020). Equal employment opportunity: Women bureaucrats in male-dominated professions.
 

McCary (2005). The disability twist in diversity: Best practices for integrating people with disabilities into the workforce.

Hossain et al. (2020). Do LGBT workplace diversity policies create value for firms?

draft

The Disability Twist in Diversity: Best
Practices for Integrating People with
Disabilities into the Workforce
Katherine McCary

The Diversity Factor © 2005
ISSN 1545-2808
Summer 2005
New Frontiers
Volume 13, Number 3

Sidebar

Resources for Hiring and Retaining
People with Disabilities

Most savvy businesses and their human resources managers understand
the value of diversity in the workforce. A diverse workforce must, for
example, mirror its diverse marketplace if it expects to be successful. But
what many businesses overlook in their diversity initiatives is the
population of people with disabilities. According to the 2000 U.S. Census,
there are 49.7 million Americans with disabilities and 21.3 million of
working age — the largest minority population.

Disability affects one in five of us and is an acquired diversity dimension.
It’s a minority population that crosses all other diversity dimensions and
one that any one of us can join at any time.

From a marketing perspective, disability experts tell us that this population
has an annual aggregate spending power of $1 trillion, with $220 billion in

discretionary spending. This is a virtually untapped marketing opportunity, especially as our
population continues to age, and aging increases the potential of living with a disability.

People with disabilities possess needed skill sets that
employers badly need. These talented job seekers
are resourceful and creative thinkers, thanks not only
to new technologies and greater access to education
but also to the challenges they must overcome every
day living with a disability. In today’s highly
competitive hunt for talent, smart businesses have
recognized the value of adding disability to their
diversity outreach, employing and retaining talented
individuals with disabilities and marketing to
customers with disabilities.

In this article I identify several of these companies and the best practices supporting their
success. In addition, these companies are learning how to utilize the resources available to this
underrepresented group and many have established partnerships with non-profits, which are
listed in the sidebar.

Why Talent is Often Overlooked
Employers seeking talent often overlook people with disabilities largely as a result of
misconceptions and fear. When asked, most businesses that have not reached into the
disability community state common concerns, including cost for accommodation, training time,
attendance, attitudes of coworkers, uncomfortable interviewing, reduction in performance
levels and, most significantly, attitudinal barriers (“people with disabilities don’t belong in the
workforce”).

However, the realities completely contradict these concerns. According to a study by Virginia

Katherine McCary is a
Vice President at
SunTrust Bank and
President of the U.S.
Business Leadership
Network.

“Disability affects one in
five of us and is an acquired
diversity dimension. It’s a
minority population that
crosses all other diversity
dimensions and one that
any one of us can join at
any time.”

16

Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, employers who had
experience including individuals with disabilities reported that these individuals were productive
and capable (in terms of timeliness, punctuality, task consistency and speed) and that the cost
associated with hiring and accommodating these workers was not a significant issue. According
to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) — a national employer support organization
specializing in accommodation issues — 51 percent of accommodations cost less than $500
and 15 percent cost nothing at all.

Employer Best Practices
Businesses are always seeking a competitive advantage. Including people with disabilities in
the workforce and marketplace has become a successful strategy for many employers both
large and small. Following are some businesses that are successfully integrating people with
disabilities into their workforces and serving as a model for others looking for ways to tap into
the talent of this underrepresented population.

SunTrust Banks, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, SunTrust Banks is
one of the nation’s largest commercial banking
organizations with branches and services in more
than 1,700 locations in the Southeast and Mid-
Atlantic. SunTrust has focused on the disabled
community for more than ten years and has been
recognized by WE Magazine as a Top Ten Employer
for People with Disabilities. SunTrust’s project called
“Put Ability to Work” recruits individuals with
disabilities into temporary employment at the bank.
This initiative has been so successful, resulting in full
time employment for many of these individuals, that the Society of Human Resource
Management (SHRM) HR Magazine awarded the bank with its 2000 HR Innovative Practice
Award.

Expanding on that success, the Chairman, President and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Bank
launched the Accessing Community Talent (ACT) Program, which seeks to increase its
employment of people with disabilities through education and resources. This program also
aims to increase management awareness of marketing opportunities for customers with
disabilities and manages a central accommodation fund for managers and customers. At the
same time the Bank launched SunTrust’s Disability Resource Center, which provides
information on recruiting, interviewing, disability etiquette, customer interaction, resources and
accommodations.

Employees and customers with disabilities are an important diversity focus for SunTrust.
Corporate support of the following programs shows their commitment:

National Disability Mentoring Day
Emerging Leadership Internship Program for outstanding college
students with disabilities
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities Annual Conference
National Business & Disability Council
American Association for People with Disabilities, and the
National and State Business Leadership Networks in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia,
Maryland and Washington, D.C.

SunTrust continues to receive national recognition for its efforts, including the U.S. Labor
Secretary Elaine Chao’s 2004 New Freedom Initiative Award that recognizes exemplary and
innovative efforts to recruit, hire and retain people with disabilities.

Motorola, Inc.

“Businesses are always
seeking a competitive
advantage. Including
people with disabilities in
the workforce and
marketplace has become a
successful strategy for
many employers both large
and small.”

17

Motorola and its global diversity organization have
achieved a number of milestones in its effort to build
a strong foundation for initiatives focused on people
with disabilities. The company’s executive
commitment and sponsorship of these initiatives
leads the way.

First, Motorola is the lead employer of the Arizona
Business Leadership Network (AZBLN), which focuses
on people with disabilities in terms of education,
outreach and connecting with resources. With
funding from the Motorola Foundation, the AZBLN
has sponsored education forums on disability
awareness, assistive technology, returning to work
and information on specific disability groups. More importantly, the AZBLN is connecting
business with community service providers, including vocational rehabilitation.

Second, a Motorola representative sits on the board of directors for the American Foundation
for the Blind (AFB) and chairs an employment committee. The company has also funded
different components of AFB’s efforts, including a workshop for blind and visually-impaired high
school students from the Chicago area.

Third, Motorola is a sponsor of the Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD)
program and conference.

Finally, following the events of 9/11, Motorola funded Project Reemploy through Abilities Inc.
and the National Business and Disability Council, a New York-based organization that focuses
on people with disabilities. As a result of Motorola’s generous contribution, more than 200
people with disabilities were placed in jobs after being displaced by the terrorist attacks. The
company has continued its relationship with Abilities Inc. as a sponsor of the National Business
and Disability Conference. At this event, Motorola demonstrated a number of accessible
technologies including high-contrast displays, expandable fonts, text messaging accessories,
voice activation and the Neck Loop that enables people with T-Coil hearing aids to use a cell
phone. Additionally, Motorola demonstrated its alternative format product manuals, which are
available in Braille, large print and audiocassette.

Oklahoma One-Call System Inc.
A small not-for-profit organization, Oklahoma One-Call System is dedicated to the protection
and safety of underground facilities, property and welfare of the citizens of Oklahoma. This is
accomplished by linking excavators with the owners of underground facilities to permit the
marking of the underground lines to prevent inadvertent damage. Commonly know as “Call
Okie,” the corporation staffs and manages a call center that receives dig site requests.
Oklahoma One-Call was asked to expand its operational window from a five-day to a seven-day
a week 24-hour operation.

It was evident, as a small business, that resources at Call Okie were limited to accomplish the
new required business mission. Reviewing the business performance and associated metrics
two issues were clearly identified. The first was employee retention and the second was to
develop a 24/7 business approach.

Analysis of employee retention metrics indicated that the prior year resulted in an employee
turnover rate of 120 percent. Further investigation suggested that employees left the business
because they were dissatisfied with the job and its requirements. A review was done on the
overall hiring practices and training program offered to employees. Concurrently, management
staff met with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. People with disabilities are
a stable workforce providing a wealth of knowledge, capabilities and a willingness to work with
a high level of retention. Oklahoma One-Call realized that this available workforce could be an

“Motorola and its global
diversity organization have
achieved a number of
milestones in its effort to
build a strong foundation
for initiatives focused on
people with disabilities. The
company’s executive
commitment and
sponsorship of these
initiatives leads the way.”

18

important resource to accomplish its newly-expanded business mission.

The 24-hour-a-day mission offered unique challenges. Business processes were reviewed and
modified, and technology options were investigated. A clear business choice was to arrange for
“overnight” support from a home terminal. This would put the Call Okie functions in someone’s
home, eliminating the requirement to have a cost-prohibitive call center open 24 hours a day.

Some people with disabilities have transportation issues so the option of working from home
helped provide this group with an opportunity to work. Utilizing the Oklahoma Business
Leadership Network (OKBLN) job fit system, candidates were identified and interviewed for
Customer Service Representative positions. Oklahoma One-Call developed a Call Center
Training package that acquainted candidates with the tasks, responsibilities and duties of the
position. Working with the Oklahoma Department of Visual Services a training course was
developed and offered to individuals with disabilities. This was a joint effort combining the
resources of Call Okie and the facilities and resources of Visual Services.

Through this whole process Oklahoma One-Call has
hired and trained ten people with disabilities to work
as home-based Customer Service Representatives,
which represents 25 percent of the organization’s
staff. Capitalizing on this success, Oklahoma One-Call
is now opening an additional site in eastern
Oklahoma that will employ ten more individuals, and
has scheduled an additional training class open to
anyone with a disability. As a result of these efforts,
Oklahoma One-Call received special Commendation
from the governor of Oklahoma, has been selected as
the lead employer for the OKBLN and Employer of
the Year from Oklahoma City.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is dedicated to providing the highest level of pediatric care to
meet the medical needs of infants, children and adolescents. The center employs more than
7,000 people in support, clinical care, teaching and research capacities. Seven years ago, Erin
Riehle, then clinical director of the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital, struggled to
solve a performance problem that plagued the efficient operation of the ER — the restocking of
supplies in a timely and dependable manner.

It was no problem to fill these entry-level jobs with students and other part-time workers
hoping to pursue careers in health care, however, their turnover was continuous due to the
repetitious nature of this task. Then, Children’s adopted a major diversity initiative in their
hiring practices. At this time, the hospital adopted a policy statement from the American
College of Healthcare Executives which reads, “Healthcare organizations must lead their
communities in increasing employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities and
advocate on behalf of their employment to other organizations.”

Erin recognized that virtually every child with a disability is a customer at Children’s at some
point in their growing years, yet they encountered almost no role models with disabilities
among the staff they saw. Though critically important, restocking of ER supplies was not
valued nor reliably performed. Putting these factors together, she realized the solution to her
staffing problem could also help fulfill the diversity mission of her hospital in a more complete
way. This idea gave birth to Project SEARCH — a program that provides jobs for individuals
with significant disability barriers to employment.

She also realized that the hospital would need community partners to achieve this goal. These
partners recognized Children’s Hospital as a highly desirable, large local employer with good
jobs in a wide array of vocational areas that would result in a win-win situation for all. The

“Erin recognized that
virtually every child with a
disability is a customer at
Children’s at some point in
their growing years, yet
they encountered almost
no role models with
disabilities among the staff
they saw.”

19

partners committed themselves to providing staff who would be devoted to this employer and
become truly knowledgeable about the work site.

Erin now serves as Director of Disability Services.
Currently, more than 70 people with significant
developmental disabilities are working as hospital
employees through this program, with two staff
providing on-the-job support services to these
employees. On average, these individuals have been
employed for five years and earn an average wage of
over $8 per hour. Most are working approximately 32
hours per week and receive full benefits. They work
in a wide range of positions that are often overlooked
for people with developmental disabilities. Many of
these require mastering complex functions, yet they
are routine in nature, such as sterilization tech,
department sticking, lab courier and clinical support
staff.

From the hospital’s point of view, the program has been enormously successful by improving
performance in high-turnover, entry-level positions. The Project SEARCH employees have also
had a low rate of absenteeism and been rated highly for their work ethic, accuracy and
enthusiastic attitude. The program has helped the hospital achieve its diversity objectives and
resulted in extensive local and national acclaim. And the collaborative model has benefited its
community partners and their participants in achieving their objectives, as well. Other hospitals
and employers around the country have begun requesting consultation from Project SEARCH to
adopt this win-win model in collaboration with community partners. The program has
demonstrated multiple and sustained benefits for the employer and the customers it serves, for
the people hired and for the community.

Booz Allen Hamilton
A global leader in management technology and consulting, Booz Allen Hamilton provides
services to major international corporations and government clients around the world. With
more than 16,000 employees on six continents, the company is privately held and
headquartered in McLean, Virginia.

Employing individuals from diverse populations has been a longstanding commitment for the
firm. In fact, diversity is explicitly designated as one of the firm’s core values, and is included in
performance assessments, career planning and training, development and rewards programs.
In fact, diversity competencies have been designed to help staff and managers leverage both
cultural differences and multiple perspectives.

People with disabilities are part of Booz Allen’s diverse population. They have a strong
presence and representation through the employee-based Disability Forum, which provides
educational and awareness opportunities, policy development and assists the firm in making
significant changes in accessibility.

Booz Allen is also committed to providing opportunities to youth with disabilities. In 2001, Booz
Allen created the Emerging Leaders Program, a paid summer internship program providing
leadership development opportunities for students with disabilities. Since then, the firm has
underwritten the application and selection process and has provided opportunities for the
interns to meet national leaders with disabilities, such as Justin Dart and John Hockenberry.
Booz Allen enlists other businesses throughout the nation to partner in hiring Emerging Leaders
finalists. Exxon Mobil, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lockheed Martin, SunTrust Bank and others are
among these corporate partners. Booz Allen also assists its clients in understanding and
leveraging disability employment and marketing opportunities within their organizations.

“From the hospital’s point
of view, the program has
been enormously
successful by improving
performance in high-
turnover, entry-level
positions. The Project
SEARCH employees have
also had a low rate of
absenteeism and been
rated highly for their work
ethic, accuracy and
enthusiastic attitude.”

20

Getting Started
In order for employers to be successful in incorporating disability into any organization’s
diversity initiatives, senior management support is crucial. Often the HR professional or hiring
manager may realize the potential talent by including people with disabilities in the workforce,
but leadership support is necessary to make this activity a part of the culture.

When promoting this to senior management, key areas of focus are:

pending or current skilled labor force shortages,
the aging workforce,
the value placed on intellectual capital,
best practices of competitors,
expanding marketplace opportunities, and
increasing workforce diversity by including this untapped talent pool.

Training and education will be required to overcome any misconceptions or fears. Disability as
a component of diversity must have its firm foundation in the business case: it cannot exist as
an HR or social program. Target specific high turnover or “difficult to recruit” positions,
determine the essential functions of these jobs and develop partnerships with local service
providers, such as the state vocational rehabilitation agency, to recruit qualified candidates.
Enlist the support of supplemental staffing firms, such as Manpower, Inc., to proactively recruit
and assign individuals with disabilities to the organization. Join a Business Leadership Network
(BLN) chapter to take advantage of business-to-business networking and support that will
enable the organization’s efforts to expand its disability outreach. Look for resources and find
ways to tap the talents of people with disabilities.

SIDEBAR:
Resources for Hiring and Retaining People with Disabilities

U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) — a national non-profit employer
organization that educates chapters/businesses on the business case for employing people with
disabilities. www.usbln.com

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Workplace Preparation (CWP) — A grant-
based, non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that focuses on workforce
development and quality education issues. It assists chambers of commerce in the
development of workforce strategies so their members can hire, train, retain and advance
workers with skills to compete in the 21st century. www.uschamber.com/cwp

Virginia Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center
(VCU RRTC) — Identifies factors that enhance or inhibit businesses from tapping into a pool
of potential employees. It is a gateway to information, resources and services regarding the
employment of people with disabilities. www.worksupport.com

Job Accommodation Network — A free consulting service designed to increase the
employability of people with disabilities by providing businesses with individualized worksite
accommodations solutions. www.jan.wvu.edu

Emerging Leaders Internship Program — Partners with businesses and non-profit
organizations to offer meaningful internship and leadership development opportunities to
students with disabilities. www.emerging-leaders.org

Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities — A consortium composed of
large and small universities, well-known national employers and U.S. Government agencies
focused on the career employment of college graduates with disabilities. www.cosdonline.org

21

American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) — Promotes career
development for students/job-seekers with disabilities nationwide through job shadowing and
hands-on career exploration on International Disability Mentoring Day. www.aapd-dc.org

Published by Elsie Y. Cross & Associates, Inc.
Developed by Rutgers University – Division of Continuous Education and Outreach
© 2005 The Diversity Factor.

22

draft

Final Project Draft

From the options provided in the topic selection, I have chosen the United States Postal Service (USPS) for my final paper.

1. What are the main activities of this organization?

The United States Postal Service is an independent governmental agency that provides postal service in every nook and cranny of the United States. The main work of the organization is to deliver the mail safely, but the work of this organization isn’t limited to just delivering the mail; instead, it has extended the services for social responsibility, business services, and government services. Under social responsibility, the postal service is committed to providing sustainability of service. The organization is investing in new technology and vehicles to provide effective and prompt service to society and its people. The environment has always been a concern area for USPS as it carries out environmental compliance reviews in different parts of the country and uses the gathered information for the betterment of its environmental activities. Not only this, but USPS also provides training and required information on the site to its employees. Other activities include helping find missing children. The organization has been involved in numerous community activities to enhance the community by educating and supporting in many fields, from helping to fundraise, organizing bone marrow donor programs, and also helping find missing children. They also conduct dog bite awareness weeks as almost 5,800 USPS employees were attacked by dogs in the year 2020. Similarly, USPS performs several government services, like providing tax forms, providing passport services, election mail, political mail, etc.

2. Where is it located? What geography does it serve?

The headquarters of the United States Postal Service is located in Washington, D.C., but the service of the organization doesn’t end there. Currently, the organization runs almost 31,000 post offices in the United States and provides services to people nationwide. Therefore, the working area of USPS isn’t limited to one specific geographical area.

3. What is the mission statement of the organization?

The mission statements of this organization are listed below:

a. To serve the American people and, through the universal service obligation, bind our nation together by maintaining and operating our unique, vital, and resilient infrastructure.

b. To provide trusted, safe and secure communications and services between our Government and the American people, businesses and their customers, and the American people with each other.

c. To serve all areas of the nation while making full use of evolving technologies.

4. Was it easy to find the diversity statement on the website? Was it located somewhere visible on the homepage, or did you have to dig for it?

I didn’t have to dig more on the website as the diversity statement was found easily in the careers section of the organization. Although it was not visible on the homepage, it wasn’t that difficult to search for. Under the careers section, I found the information related to diversity and inclusion in “Working at USPS.” The organization states diversity and inclusion as their main factors to success.

 

I have listed 10 readings that I intend to use in my final paper in the reference section.

Reference:

https://about.usps.com/

Bourke, Smith, Stockton, & Wakefild (2014). From diversity to inclusion

Yadav & Lenka (2020). Diversity Management: A Systematic Review

French (2009). Employment laws and the public sector employer: Lessons to be learned from a review of lawsuits filed against local governments.

Saidel, & Loscocco (2005). Agency leaders, gendered institutions, and representative bureaucracy.

Selden & Selden (2001). Rethinking diversity in public organizations for the 21st century: Moving toward a multicultural model

DiMillo et al. (2021). Addressing race in the workplace: Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Roberts & Mayo (2019). Towards a racially just workplace.

Feeney & Camarena (2021). Gender, race, and diversity values among local government leaders.
 

Bishu & Headly (2020). Equal employment opportunity: Women bureaucrats in male-dominated professions.
 

McCary (2005). The disability twist in diversity: Best practices for integrating people with disabilities into the workforce.

Hossain et al. (2020). Do LGBT workplace diversity policies create value for firms?

draft

The Disability Twist in Diversity: Best
Practices for Integrating People with
Disabilities into the Workforce
Katherine McCary

The Diversity Factor © 2005
ISSN 1545-2808
Summer 2005
New Frontiers
Volume 13, Number 3

Sidebar

Resources for Hiring and Retaining
People with Disabilities

Most savvy businesses and their human resources managers understand
the value of diversity in the workforce. A diverse workforce must, for
example, mirror its diverse marketplace if it expects to be successful. But
what many businesses overlook in their diversity initiatives is the
population of people with disabilities. According to the 2000 U.S. Census,
there are 49.7 million Americans with disabilities and 21.3 million of
working age — the largest minority population.

Disability affects one in five of us and is an acquired diversity dimension.
It’s a minority population that crosses all other diversity dimensions and
one that any one of us can join at any time.

From a marketing perspective, disability experts tell us that this population
has an annual aggregate spending power of $1 trillion, with $220 billion in

discretionary spending. This is a virtually untapped marketing opportunity, especially as our
population continues to age, and aging increases the potential of living with a disability.

People with disabilities possess needed skill sets that
employers badly need. These talented job seekers
are resourceful and creative thinkers, thanks not only
to new technologies and greater access to education
but also to the challenges they must overcome every
day living with a disability. In today’s highly
competitive hunt for talent, smart businesses have
recognized the value of adding disability to their
diversity outreach, employing and retaining talented
individuals with disabilities and marketing to
customers with disabilities.

In this article I identify several of these companies and the best practices supporting their
success. In addition, these companies are learning how to utilize the resources available to this
underrepresented group and many have established partnerships with non-profits, which are
listed in the sidebar.

Why Talent is Often Overlooked
Employers seeking talent often overlook people with disabilities largely as a result of
misconceptions and fear. When asked, most businesses that have not reached into the
disability community state common concerns, including cost for accommodation, training time,
attendance, attitudes of coworkers, uncomfortable interviewing, reduction in performance
levels and, most significantly, attitudinal barriers (“people with disabilities don’t belong in the
workforce”).

However, the realities completely contradict these concerns. According to a study by Virginia

Katherine McCary is a
Vice President at
SunTrust Bank and
President of the U.S.
Business Leadership
Network.

“Disability affects one in
five of us and is an acquired
diversity dimension. It’s a
minority population that
crosses all other diversity
dimensions and one that
any one of us can join at
any time.”

16

Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, employers who had
experience including individuals with disabilities reported that these individuals were productive
and capable (in terms of timeliness, punctuality, task consistency and speed) and that the cost
associated with hiring and accommodating these workers was not a significant issue. According
to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) — a national employer support organization
specializing in accommodation issues — 51 percent of accommodations cost less than $500
and 15 percent cost nothing at all.

Employer Best Practices
Businesses are always seeking a competitive advantage. Including people with disabilities in
the workforce and marketplace has become a successful strategy for many employers both
large and small. Following are some businesses that are successfully integrating people with
disabilities into their workforces and serving as a model for others looking for ways to tap into
the talent of this underrepresented population.

SunTrust Banks, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, SunTrust Banks is
one of the nation’s largest commercial banking
organizations with branches and services in more
than 1,700 locations in the Southeast and Mid-
Atlantic. SunTrust has focused on the disabled
community for more than ten years and has been
recognized by WE Magazine as a Top Ten Employer
for People with Disabilities. SunTrust’s project called
“Put Ability to Work” recruits individuals with
disabilities into temporary employment at the bank.
This initiative has been so successful, resulting in full
time employment for many of these individuals, that the Society of Human Resource
Management (SHRM) HR Magazine awarded the bank with its 2000 HR Innovative Practice
Award.

Expanding on that success, the Chairman, President and CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Bank
launched the Accessing Community Talent (ACT) Program, which seeks to increase its
employment of people with disabilities through education and resources. This program also
aims to increase management awareness of marketing opportunities for customers with
disabilities and manages a central accommodation fund for managers and customers. At the
same time the Bank launched SunTrust’s Disability Resource Center, which provides
information on recruiting, interviewing, disability etiquette, customer interaction, resources and
accommodations.

Employees and customers with disabilities are an important diversity focus for SunTrust.
Corporate support of the following programs shows their commitment:

National Disability Mentoring Day
Emerging Leadership Internship Program for outstanding college
students with disabilities
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities Annual Conference
National Business & Disability Council
American Association for People with Disabilities, and the
National and State Business Leadership Networks in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia,
Maryland and Washington, D.C.

SunTrust continues to receive national recognition for its efforts, including the U.S. Labor
Secretary Elaine Chao’s 2004 New Freedom Initiative Award that recognizes exemplary and
innovative efforts to recruit, hire and retain people with disabilities.

Motorola, Inc.

“Businesses are always
seeking a competitive
advantage. Including
people with disabilities in
the workforce and
marketplace has become a
successful strategy for
many employers both large
and small.”

17

Motorola and its global diversity organization have
achieved a number of milestones in its effort to build
a strong foundation for initiatives focused on people
with disabilities. The company’s executive
commitment and sponsorship of these initiatives
leads the way.

First, Motorola is the lead employer of the Arizona
Business Leadership Network (AZBLN), which focuses
on people with disabilities in terms of education,
outreach and connecting with resources. With
funding from the Motorola Foundation, the AZBLN
has sponsored education forums on disability
awareness, assistive technology, returning to work
and information on specific disability groups. More importantly, the AZBLN is connecting
business with community service providers, including vocational rehabilitation.

Second, a Motorola representative sits on the board of directors for the American Foundation
for the Blind (AFB) and chairs an employment committee. The company has also funded
different components of AFB’s efforts, including a workshop for blind and visually-impaired high
school students from the Chicago area.

Third, Motorola is a sponsor of the Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD)
program and conference.

Finally, following the events of 9/11, Motorola funded Project Reemploy through Abilities Inc.
and the National Business and Disability Council, a New York-based organization that focuses
on people with disabilities. As a result of Motorola’s generous contribution, more than 200
people with disabilities were placed in jobs after being displaced by the terrorist attacks. The
company has continued its relationship with Abilities Inc. as a sponsor of the National Business
and Disability Conference. At this event, Motorola demonstrated a number of accessible
technologies including high-contrast displays, expandable fonts, text messaging accessories,
voice activation and the Neck Loop that enables people with T-Coil hearing aids to use a cell
phone. Additionally, Motorola demonstrated its alternative format product manuals, which are
available in Braille, large print and audiocassette.

Oklahoma One-Call System Inc.
A small not-for-profit organization, Oklahoma One-Call System is dedicated to the protection
and safety of underground facilities, property and welfare of the citizens of Oklahoma. This is
accomplished by linking excavators with the owners of underground facilities to permit the
marking of the underground lines to prevent inadvertent damage. Commonly know as “Call
Okie,” the corporation staffs and manages a call center that receives dig site requests.
Oklahoma One-Call was asked to expand its operational window from a five-day to a seven-day
a week 24-hour operation.

It was evident, as a small business, that resources at Call Okie were limited to accomplish the
new required business mission. Reviewing the business performance and associated metrics
two issues were clearly identified. The first was employee retention and the second was to
develop a 24/7 business approach.

Analysis of employee retention metrics indicated that the prior year resulted in an employee
turnover rate of 120 percent. Further investigation suggested that employees left the business
because they were dissatisfied with the job and its requirements. A review was done on the
overall hiring practices and training program offered to employees. Concurrently, management
staff met with the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services. People with disabilities are
a stable workforce providing a wealth of knowledge, capabilities and a willingness to work with
a high level of retention. Oklahoma One-Call realized that this available workforce could be an

“Motorola and its global
diversity organization have
achieved a number of
milestones in its effort to
build a strong foundation
for initiatives focused on
people with disabilities. The
company’s executive
commitment and
sponsorship of these
initiatives leads the way.”

18

important resource to accomplish its newly-expanded business mission.

The 24-hour-a-day mission offered unique challenges. Business processes were reviewed and
modified, and technology options were investigated. A clear business choice was to arrange for
“overnight” support from a home terminal. This would put the Call Okie functions in someone’s
home, eliminating the requirement to have a cost-prohibitive call center open 24 hours a day.

Some people with disabilities have transportation issues so the option of working from home
helped provide this group with an opportunity to work. Utilizing the Oklahoma Business
Leadership Network (OKBLN) job fit system, candidates were identified and interviewed for
Customer Service Representative positions. Oklahoma One-Call developed a Call Center
Training package that acquainted candidates with the tasks, responsibilities and duties of the
position. Working with the Oklahoma Department of Visual Services a training course was
developed and offered to individuals with disabilities. This was a joint effort combining the
resources of Call Okie and the facilities and resources of Visual Services.

Through this whole process Oklahoma One-Call has
hired and trained ten people with disabilities to work
as home-based Customer Service Representatives,
which represents 25 percent of the organization’s
staff. Capitalizing on this success, Oklahoma One-Call
is now opening an additional site in eastern
Oklahoma that will employ ten more individuals, and
has scheduled an additional training class open to
anyone with a disability. As a result of these efforts,
Oklahoma One-Call received special Commendation
from the governor of Oklahoma, has been selected as
the lead employer for the OKBLN and Employer of
the Year from Oklahoma City.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is dedicated to providing the highest level of pediatric care to
meet the medical needs of infants, children and adolescents. The center employs more than
7,000 people in support, clinical care, teaching and research capacities. Seven years ago, Erin
Riehle, then clinical director of the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital, struggled to
solve a performance problem that plagued the efficient operation of the ER — the restocking of
supplies in a timely and dependable manner.

It was no problem to fill these entry-level jobs with students and other part-time workers
hoping to pursue careers in health care, however, their turnover was continuous due to the
repetitious nature of this task. Then, Children’s adopted a major diversity initiative in their
hiring practices. At this time, the hospital adopted a policy statement from the American
College of Healthcare Executives which reads, “Healthcare organizations must lead their
communities in increasing employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities and
advocate on behalf of their employment to other organizations.”

Erin recognized that virtually every child with a disability is a customer at Children’s at some
point in their growing years, yet they encountered almost no role models with disabilities
among the staff they saw. Though critically important, restocking of ER supplies was not
valued nor reliably performed. Putting these factors together, she realized the solution to her
staffing problem could also help fulfill the diversity mission of her hospital in a more complete
way. This idea gave birth to Project SEARCH — a program that provides jobs for individuals
with significant disability barriers to employment.

She also realized that the hospital would need community partners to achieve this goal. These
partners recognized Children’s Hospital as a highly desirable, large local employer with good
jobs in a wide array of vocational areas that would result in a win-win situation for all. The

“Erin recognized that
virtually every child with a
disability is a customer at
Children’s at some point in
their growing years, yet
they encountered almost
no role models with
disabilities among the staff
they saw.”

19

partners committed themselves to providing staff who would be devoted to this employer and
become truly knowledgeable about the work site.

Erin now serves as Director of Disability Services.
Currently, more than 70 people with significant
developmental disabilities are working as hospital
employees through this program, with two staff
providing on-the-job support services to these
employees. On average, these individuals have been
employed for five years and earn an average wage of
over $8 per hour. Most are working approximately 32
hours per week and receive full benefits. They work
in a wide range of positions that are often overlooked
for people with developmental disabilities. Many of
these require mastering complex functions, yet they
are routine in nature, such as sterilization tech,
department sticking, lab courier and clinical support
staff.

From the hospital’s point of view, the program has been enormously successful by improving
performance in high-turnover, entry-level positions. The Project SEARCH employees have also
had a low rate of absenteeism and been rated highly for their work ethic, accuracy and
enthusiastic attitude. The program has helped the hospital achieve its diversity objectives and
resulted in extensive local and national acclaim. And the collaborative model has benefited its
community partners and their participants in achieving their objectives, as well. Other hospitals
and employers around the country have begun requesting consultation from Project SEARCH to
adopt this win-win model in collaboration with community partners. The program has
demonstrated multiple and sustained benefits for the employer and the customers it serves, for
the people hired and for the community.

Booz Allen Hamilton
A global leader in management technology and consulting, Booz Allen Hamilton provides
services to major international corporations and government clients around the world. With
more than 16,000 employees on six continents, the company is privately held and
headquartered in McLean, Virginia.

Employing individuals from diverse populations has been a longstanding commitment for the
firm. In fact, diversity is explicitly designated as one of the firm’s core values, and is included in
performance assessments, career planning and training, development and rewards programs.
In fact, diversity competencies have been designed to help staff and managers leverage both
cultural differences and multiple perspectives.

People with disabilities are part of Booz Allen’s diverse population. They have a strong
presence and representation through the employee-based Disability Forum, which provides
educational and awareness opportunities, policy development and assists the firm in making
significant changes in accessibility.

Booz Allen is also committed to providing opportunities to youth with disabilities. In 2001, Booz
Allen created the Emerging Leaders Program, a paid summer internship program providing
leadership development opportunities for students with disabilities. Since then, the firm has
underwritten the application and selection process and has provided opportunities for the
interns to meet national leaders with disabilities, such as Justin Dart and John Hockenberry.
Booz Allen enlists other businesses throughout the nation to partner in hiring Emerging Leaders
finalists. Exxon Mobil, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lockheed Martin, SunTrust Bank and others are
among these corporate partners. Booz Allen also assists its clients in understanding and
leveraging disability employment and marketing opportunities within their organizations.

“From the hospital’s point
of view, the program has
been enormously
successful by improving
performance in high-
turnover, entry-level
positions. The Project
SEARCH employees have
also had a low rate of
absenteeism and been
rated highly for their work
ethic, accuracy and
enthusiastic attitude.”

20

Getting Started
In order for employers to be successful in incorporating disability into any organization’s
diversity initiatives, senior management support is crucial. Often the HR professional or hiring
manager may realize the potential talent by including people with disabilities in the workforce,
but leadership support is necessary to make this activity a part of the culture.

When promoting this to senior management, key areas of focus are:

pending or current skilled labor force shortages,
the aging workforce,
the value placed on intellectual capital,
best practices of competitors,
expanding marketplace opportunities, and
increasing workforce diversity by including this untapped talent pool.

Training and education will be required to overcome any misconceptions or fears. Disability as
a component of diversity must have its firm foundation in the business case: it cannot exist as
an HR or social program. Target specific high turnover or “difficult to recruit” positions,
determine the essential functions of these jobs and develop partnerships with local service
providers, such as the state vocational rehabilitation agency, to recruit qualified candidates.
Enlist the support of supplemental staffing firms, such as Manpower, Inc., to proactively recruit
and assign individuals with disabilities to the organization. Join a Business Leadership Network
(BLN) chapter to take advantage of business-to-business networking and support that will
enable the organization’s efforts to expand its disability outreach. Look for resources and find
ways to tap the talents of people with disabilities.

SIDEBAR:
Resources for Hiring and Retaining People with Disabilities

U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) — a national non-profit employer
organization that educates chapters/businesses on the business case for employing people with
disabilities. www.usbln.com

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Workplace Preparation (CWP) — A grant-
based, non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that focuses on workforce
development and quality education issues. It assists chambers of commerce in the
development of workforce strategies so their members can hire, train, retain and advance
workers with skills to compete in the 21st century. www.uschamber.com/cwp

Virginia Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center
(VCU RRTC) — Identifies factors that enhance or inhibit businesses from tapping into a pool
of potential employees. It is a gateway to information, resources and services regarding the
employment of people with disabilities. www.worksupport.com

Job Accommodation Network — A free consulting service designed to increase the
employability of people with disabilities by providing businesses with individualized worksite
accommodations solutions. www.jan.wvu.edu

Emerging Leaders Internship Program — Partners with businesses and non-profit
organizations to offer meaningful internship and leadership development opportunities to
students with disabilities. www.emerging-leaders.org

Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities — A consortium composed of
large and small universities, well-known national employers and U.S. Government agencies
focused on the career employment of college graduates with disabilities. www.cosdonline.org

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American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD) — Promotes career
development for students/job-seekers with disabilities nationwide through job shadowing and
hands-on career exploration on International Disability Mentoring Day. www.aapd-dc.org

Published by Elsie Y. Cross & Associates, Inc.
Developed by Rutgers University – Division of Continuous Education and Outreach
© 2005 The Diversity Factor.

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