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Diversity initiatives do not necessarily yield sought-after outcomes. Following Bamberger and Pratt's (2010 Acad. Manage. J. 53, 665) suggestion of pursuing exploration-based unconventional research, we conducted a case study of a uniquely diverse organization. Using focus groups, interviews and reviews of organizational documents and artefacts, we describe what underlies a strong positive climate for diversity. The themes that emerged around centrality of diversity to identity, accommodation, respecting difference, continuous learning and structural inclusiveness indicated how diversity can be translated into attitudes (openness to change, openness to others, openness to error and perceived person-environment fit) and competencies (efficacy for change, interpersonal competence, improvement capacity and actual person-environment fit). Implications for promoting positive diversity climates that may enhance organizational effectiveness are discussed.

Practitioner Points

  • Having a norm of accommodation can create attitudes of openness to change and help develop efficacy for change.
  • When respecting difference is essential to everyday functioning, interpersonal competence and openness to others is promoted.
  • Framing a diverse workplace as necessitating continuous learning can provide for openness to error that allows for organizational improvement.
  • To promote a positive diversity climate, attend to structural inclusiveness.