What's the big idea? Managing diversity

Forget the PC overtones - diversity really does need to be managed. But what kind of diversity and who's to manage it - more white men in blue shirts?

by Nigel Nicholson, professor of organisational behaviour at the London Business School
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

The topic is, of course, code for race and gender. 'Race' is often literally only skin deep; at other times it encodes ethnic awareness and cultural values. Gender is a more reliable and less compromising set of biological and socially constructed differences, recognised as hugely important in how we can better work together. Yet it's the related aspects of our differences - personality, skill, experience, knowledge - which when combined effectively offer the magic prize of synergy; all of us are better than any of us. But this takes time and can exact huge transaction costs of finding out how to exchange and learn from each other without coming to blows. Hence the need for 'managing' diversity. In an ideal world - and your average authentic village - diversity is self-managed. Alas, in the modern corporation, the white men in blue shirts will appoint a diversity officer to help the village to be productive. Two cheers for that.

- Nigel Nicholson is professor of organisational behaviour at the London Business School

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Is it favouritism to protect an employee no one likes?

The Dominic Cummings affair shows the dangers of double standards, but it’s also true that...

Masterclass: Communicating in a crisis

In this video, Moneypenny CEO Joanna Swash and Hill+Knowlton Strategies UK CEO Simon Whitehead discuss...

Remote working forever? No thanks

EKM's CEO Antony Chesworth has had no problems working from home, but he has no...

5 rules for work-at-home productivity

And how to focus when focusing feels impossible.

Scandal management lessons from Dominic Cummings

The PR industry offers its take on the PM’s svengali.

Why emails cause conflict

And what you can do about it.