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Authors:
Linda Ridley (City University of New York)
Published in:
2016
Version:
3-Mar-2016
Revision date:
04-Mar-2016
Length:
23 pages
Data source:
Generalised experience

Abstract

The past several decades have displayed a focus on diversity in the workplace throughout the corporate environment. Questions remains: has the effort been at all impactful - or, due to its symbolic nature, has it only been a distraction? What behaviors would have been better emphasized to achieve full participation and opportunity by all actors in a firm? Considerable research has revealed that attempts at diversity are clumsy at best; and spurious at worst. The challenge for actors has been to develop a 'business case' for why those contributing groups represented by women and people of color should be promoted to levels of leadership within the corporate environment. The unfortunate result, after decades of trial and error, is an industry designed to tighten the grip of white males on business through the creation of artificial heights, the levels of which only a few from the affected groups can reach, with a tenuous hold. Cutting-edge research on symbols and symptoms tells us that the refusal to examine in totality the history of discrimination and racism allow us to perpetuate a mythology that prohibits any real growth. That mythology, of white male supremacy, is enhanced through impotent diversity programs repeated throughout corporate America. This case examines the implementation of symptomatic thinking in a corporate environment with an aim towards encouraging authentic leadership in a world of changing demographics. The point of view is that of a primary protagonist, an African-American woman, and the venue is a major commercial bank based in the United States. For the purposes of confidentiality, all names are changed. The case follows the career trajectory of this manager of color who happens to be a woman. This case was written with the support of a Case Writing Scholarship awarded by The Case Centre.

Topics

Workplace diversity; Symptomatic thinking; Multicultural identity; Symbols; Race; Stereotyping; Productivity; Innovative management; Changing demographics; Women in management; Women in leadership

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