What can leaders do to manage diversity in organizations?

2/20/2019                                                                                        VitalSource: Leadership in Organizations

PRINTED BY: poliscience2012@gmail.com. Printing is for personal, private use only. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted without publisher’s prior permission. Violators will be prosecuted.

Sexbased discrimination in the selection and promotion of leaders continues to be a serious problem in large organizations. There are several different reasons for such discrimination, but more research is needed to understand the causes and find ways to deal with them. Many studies have examined genderbased differences in leadership behavior and effectiveness, but the findings are weak and inconsistent. Future studies need to control for effects of likely contaminating variables, report the magnitude of any significant differences that are found, and measure processes that provide insight into the reasons for the differences.

An important responsibility for leaders in this new century is the management of diversity, which can take many forms. Leaders play an essential role in helping to bring about equal opportunity and elimination of unfair discrimination in selection and promotion decisions. Leaders can do many things to encourage tolerance and appreciation of diversity in organizations. All leaders in the organization should share the responsibility for improving diversity and ensuring equal opportunity. Leadership at the national level is also important in the continuing efforts to eliminate unfair discrimination for all minorities and ethnic groups.

Review and Discussion Questions

What are the major research questions in studies of crosscultural leadership?

Why is crosscultural research on leadership important and worthwhile?

What are some difficulties in conducting crosscultural research on leadership?

What cultural value dimensions have been identified, and how are they related to leadership?

What leadership attributes are universally viewed as effective and desirable?

What leadership attributes have the greatest crosscultural variability?

Why is a “glass ceiling” for women, and what can be done about the problem?

What can leaders do to manage diversity in organizations?

Key Terms

crosscultural differences cultural value dimensions discrimination in personnel decisions

diversity training gender egalitarianism

glass ceiling


humane orientation ingroup collectivism performance orientation power distance sexrole stereotypes uncertainty avoidance

Case Madison, Jones, and Conklin

After graduating from a prestigious business school, Laura Kravitz accepted a job at Madison, Jones, and Conklin, a mediumsized firm that did accounting and consulting projects for corporate clients. After a series of successful assignments working as a member of a project team, Laura was promoted to a team manager position with broader responsibilities. Laura felt confident about her qualifications. The other team managers seemed to respect her, and clients were happy with the projects she managed. With this record of success, Laura hoped to

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eventually become a partner in the company. However, as the only woman manager in a maledominated company, she knew that there would be some obstacles to overcome.

Laura felt that some of the senior managers were very conservative and did not accept her as an equal. In the quarterly planning meetings, these managers were often inattentive when she spoke and seemed unreceptive to her suggestions for improvements. Several times she proposed an idea that was ignored, and the same idea was later suggested by someone else who received the credit for it.

Laura did not have a mentor in the company to tell people about her skills and help to advance her career. Moreover, she did not feel accepted into the informal network of relationships that provided opportunities to interact with senior managers. She did not like to play golf and was not a member of the exclusive golf club to which many of the male managers belonged. She was not invited to most of the social activities hosted by senior managers for friends and select members of the company.

Laura also felt that the assignment of projects was biased. The highprofile projects were always given to the male managers. When Laura asked her boss for more challenging projects, she was told that the older clients usually preferred to deal with men. Because she was not given the more profitable accounts, her performance numbers did not look as good as the numbers for some of the male managers. Two male managers who had joined the company around the same time she was hired were promoted ahead of her.

Frustrated by the apparent “glass ceiling” at the company, Laura asked to meet with the president to talk about her career. The president was surprised to hear that Laura was unhappy about her advancement in the company. He assured her that she was a valuable employee and should be patient about a promotion. However, after another year with little improvement in how she was treated, Laura resigned from the company. With two friends from graduate school who also felt unappreciated, she formed a new company and served as the chief executive officer. In a relatively short time, this company became highly successful. Copyright © 1999 by Gary Yukl


What forms of gender discrimination did Laura experience?

What could Laura have done to overcome the obstacles she encountered?

What could the president have done to create equal opportunity in this company?


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