Journal of Social Change


For over 30 years, organizations have engaged in programs to address the growing presence of diverse populations in their ranks, and researchers have attempted to identify and quantify a link between diversity and enterprise performance. There is a general lack of understanding of how organizations benefit from increased diversity and the role of frontline managers in that process. The purpose of this study was to obtain a better understanding of the perceptions and lived experiences of frontline managers in their role of executing diversity management programs. The study’s framework focused on (a) diversity management, (b) managing people, and (c) team performance. The data collection process involved interviewing 12 frontline managers from a variety of industry sectors using a semistructured, conversational interviewing protocol. The open, hand-coded analysis revealed patterns of thought and behaviors relating to managing individuals, managing the complexity of diversity, and managing diverse teams for high performance. The original concept of diversity management was in response to the growing diversity in the workplace and was intended to develop the capacity among managers to manage the resulting diversity mix. The study findings indicated that a common definition of diversity management is possible, that managing diversity requires a competence with all dimensions of diversity, and that there is a set of management skills that can yield better performance with teams of diverse composition. The results of this study can have a positive impact on theory, practice, and general social acceptance of diversity.