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Negotiating The Work of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (dei): An Integrative Conceptual Framework

To improve organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), managers in core business functions, as well as those in human relations, must multitask between their job responsibilities and the work of DEI. Less well theorized in research on organizational diversity interventions is the managerial work associated with enhancing DEI outcomes. More clearly recognized is that managers from historically marginalized groups are more likely than members of dominant groups to be given the responsibility for the work of DEI. We propose a conceptual framework that identifies core tasks associated with the work of DEI and the differential organizational motivations to support those tasks depending on their “diversity perspective” (Ely & Thomas, 2001). Employing a principal-agent model, we illuminate how, depending on the diversity perspective of organization and the DEI ambitions of the manager, the work of DEI may be negotiated or create conflicts, especially for managers from historically marginalized backgrounds.

Daphne Baldassari
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Sandra Portocarrero
Columbia Business School
United States

Hannah Bowles
Harvard Kennedy School
United States


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