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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Diversity is in the Eye of the Beholder: How Majority and Minority Group Members Define Diversity

  • Author(s): Unzueta, Miguel M.
  • Binning, Kevin R.
  • et al.

This paper suggests that the concept of diversity carries different meanings for majority (e.g., men, Whites) and minority (e.g., women, racial minorities) group members. Because diversity is in-group relevant for minority but not majority group members, group-interest may motivate minority but not majority group members to define diversity in ways that maximize benefits for the in-group. One such way is for minorities to define diversity in a relatively complex manner – that is, as entailing both the numerical and structural representation of minorities in an organization. Majority group members, on the other hand, since they are not motivated by group-interest, may define diversity as simply entailing minorities’ numerical representation. Four studies tested these hypotheses. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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