A Research Companion
Edited by Mustafa F. Özbilgin and Jawad Syed
Chapter 8: Diversity Management Rhetoric versus Reality: Insights from the Lebanese Context
Dima Jamali and Hanin Abdallah Introduction Diversity management is a buzzword that is increasingly used in various contexts, with positive connotations and aspirations. The term evokes various colorful metaphors of harmonious coexistence of elements of difference inside the confines of organizational boundaries (Kamp and Hagedorn-Rasmussen, 2004). According to Kandola and Fullerton (1998), diversity consists of visible and non-visible differences including sex, age, background, race, disability, personality and work style, and diversity management seeks to harness those differences in the pursuit of more productive work environments. Arredondo (1996) associates diversity management with notions of empowerment, inclusiveness and making workplaces more hospitable to individual growth and change, with direct cost–benefit implications for organizations. The business case for diversity management has been popularized in recent writings, positing diversity management as a necessary orientation for organizations desiring to remain competitive (Gilbert et al., 1999). Cox and Blake (1991) argue that effectively managed workplace diversity can translate into competitive advantages in various areas including cost, marketing, creativity, problem solving and flexibility. Other research links diversity management to lowered absenteeism and turnover for women and minorities (Cox and Smolinski, 1994) increased problem-solving capabilities (Nemeth, 1986), and higher organizational productivity (Cox and Smolinski, 1994). The business case for diversity management has interestingly been revisited and powerfully re-asserted by Page (2007) in a recent Academy of Management Perspectives article. Diversity management has no doubt also attracted increased attention in the aftermath of the perceived failure of affirmative action programs. While the latter evolved around more aspirational goals,...
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