Diversity in the Work Force: Volume 14


Table of contents

(14 chapters)

In this introduction to the volume on Workforce Diversity, we review some of the critical issues that need to be addressed in thinking about and doing research on workforce diversity, and then we discuss where the topics addressed in this volume fit within the larger literature on diversity at work and how the contributions in the volume advance our understanding of workforce diversity. By necessity this is a brief overview. The papers in this volume elaborate some of the issues, but a great deal more needs to be done to fully understand how diversity both affects and contributes to workplace outcomes. We conclude with the observation that the issue of diversity in the workforce is inherently a political issue, and hence one where interests are often in conflict and sometimes contradictory. The challenge for managing diversity in the workforce is the ability to bridge such political differences, and so far, few organizations have met that goal.

Previous research has shown that social networks can be an important source of employment information, such as job leads, for both men and women. However, few studies have considered whether women and men benefit equally from having a diverse set of personal contacts. We argue that because previous research has not considered both the sex of the person providing job-related information and the sex of the person receiving the information, one cannot determine whether returns to network diversity differ by gender. We describe a unique data set that permits such an analysis, and report findings suggesting sex differences in returns to network diversity.

The role of social networks is central to the phenomenon of employment and ownership in ethnic businesses, ethnic enclaves, and more generally ethnic economies. Social capital within migrant or co-ethnic social networks is generally viewed as an aid to niche employment, in other words as processes of network inclusion. This article examines both processes of inclusion and exclusion in the social networks of Asian Indian migrants in and outside of ethnic economies. Evidence from the life histories of these migrants in New York and London allows us to see the role of social networks in producing cooperation and conflict within modes of economic inclusion and exclusion.

This article presents arguments regarding the importance of information sharing to the growth and stability of organizational knowledge. In addition, the article discusses the expected effects of group composition on the nature and degree of information sharing that takes place within groups. While group composition may vary along a number of dimensions, this article focuses primarily on differences in group membership represented by various race and gender combinations. The specific research question explored is, to what extent does group composition affect the likelihood that individually held (unique) information will be shared with group members during group discussion? A conceptual model is presented and its implications for both research and practice are discussed.

Research has found that African-Americans and women have opportunities for advancement in the traditional corporate environment through resources embedded in their social networks. However, layoffs can affect the composition of their social networks, their positions in the networks, and rewards from those networks. I suggest that the racial, cultural, and gender differences between African-American and women layoff survivors and White and male layoff survivors will negatively affect their access to and benefits from social capital resources. Yet, strong tie relationships with White and male layoff survivors in key strategic positions can help African-American and women survivors maintain their existing job position because they can then borrow the social capital resources of the White and male survivors. Thus, while research has found that weak ties help individuals advance in their workplaces, strong tie relationships with majority groups may be more beneficial to minority groups in maintaining their position after a layoff.

Affirmative action and diversity management are complementary efforts to achieve an inclusive workforce. Research on attitudes toward affirmative action can therefore contribute to an understanding of reactions to diversity programs. Using data from two studies, we assess the extent to which the strength of the affirmative action plan (AAP) influences the relationship between attitudes and individual difference predictors. The relation of attitudes with the respondents’ race and perceived self-interest increased monotonically with AAP strength, whereas measures of racial prejudice and political orientation best predicted attitudes toward AAPs of intermediate strength. We explore the implications of these findings for the theory and practice of diversity management.

It has been argued that the workplace and the labor market in general, by processes of education, mobility and competition, have become the main forces behind the individualization and atomization in societies and in people’s lives. This paper inquires into the tensions between solidarity, identity, and individualism among workers in their efforts to organize collective struggles to improve their workplaces and their lives. Drawing on the dilemmas of increased diversity in the new workplace, the paper delineates three models of organized labor: (1) The Universalist-Individualist model of organized labor, peaking at the New Deal crisis and embedded in National Labor Relations Act, as an attempt to establish universal solidarity, which suppressed differences and presented a unified worker voice; (2) The Separatist model, which emerges as a reaction to intragroup exclusion and involves fragmentation of workers into identity groups, each representing the interests of its members; (3) The Coalitionist-Altruist model, envisioned in the paper as a middle ground between solidarity and self-interest, through interrelated moves: a move from totalizing universal solidarity to coalitionist solidarity through continuous dialogue and “rotation of centers” and a move from rights-based identity politics and the dominance of employment antidiscrimination claims to a fuller substantive theory for social reform.

This paper contends that diverse value systems that lead people to sympathize with their own groups in some cases and with other people’s groups in other cases can serve to reduce opportunistic behavior in organizations. In particular, it is useful for an organization to have people who espouse an “innovationist” perspective that supports reduction in hierarchy and economic disparities along with flexibility and change in work conditions. It is also useful to have people who espouse an opposing “traditionalist” perspective that supports hierarchy and inequality along with clear rules and stability in work conditions.

Drawing upon the 5% Public-Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) from the 1990 and 2000 Censuses (with comparisons to the 1980 Census through the work of Uhlenberg & Cooney, 1990), this paper examines the changing characteristics of the U.S. young physician labor force (aged 30–49). Currently, over 45% of medical degrees are earned by women, but gendered work-family patterns persist. Measures examined include income, hourly wages, mean work hours, part-time and overtime work, practice setting, marital status, and children. For a sub-sample of physicians married to physicians, I also examine income and work hour differentials. Close attention is paid to whether a marriage premium and/or a motherhood penalty in wages exists and persists over time. Implications of the documented workforce diversity are discussed for organizations within which physicians are employed.

The literature suggests that women are less committed to and less successful in their careers than men because of family responsibilities. I examine whether mothers practicing law are less committed to their legal careers than other women. Mothers acknowledge that they violate certain time and career norms associated with practicing law and work in different settings, which may be interpreted by others as indicators of their lack of career commitment. The survey results reveal that, despite these violations, mothers report greater career commitment than other women in law. I conclude by examining possible explanations for these findings.

Past research has found that married men have advantages in the labor market. In this paper we examine the extent to which the advantage of married men is evident in research and development organizations with different characteristics. Specifically, we examine the extent to which each of the following organizational characteristics enhance or limit the advantages that married men enjoy both in access to favorable work experiences on the job and in the evaluation of their performance: the extent of involvement in basic research, the proportion of funding from corporate sources, the extent of external contracting, the tightness of work schedules, and the use cross-functional teams. Using information from managers to measure organizational characteristics, we find that married men are advantaged in all types of R&D organizations.

In this paper, we develop a conceptual framework for understanding the impact of workforce diversity on labor market outcomes. We argue that to understand the impact of workforce diversity, we must consider the effects of power (the distribution of valued and scarce resources), status (the relationships among people and groups), and numbers (the compositional effects of the unit), whether in the work group, job, occupation, firm, or society. We then discuss the mechanisms that generate and reproduce these dimensions of inequality and explain how they contribute to everyday practices such as allocation decisions and evaluative processes and ultimately lead to sustained or durable inequality (e.g. labor force outcomes including attitudes, behaviors, and material and psychic rewards).

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Book series
Research in the Sociology of Work
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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