Conceptualizing diversity and leadership: evidence from 10 cases
Educational Management Administration and Leadership, 34, (2), . (doi:10.1177/1741143206062487).
This article uses the theoretical framework of broad and narrow ways of conceptualizing diversity, the latter focusing primarily on those characteristics that are likely to lead to disadvantage, ethnicity, gender and disability, and the broader encompassing many more characteristics of ‘difference’, such as educational background, leadership style. It analyses evidence from 10 organizations in the Learning and Skills Sector in England to suggest that in most cases, while staff may be aware of the political dimension of narrower conceptualizations, they reject the latter as irrelevant or impractical, and certainly more problematic. Their orientation coverts ‘managing diversity’, derived from human resources theory, from its intended aim of increasing equity, to a conceptual sleight of hand for sidestepping uncomfortable issues. Staff are shown both to create an ‘other’ than the norm, an ‘outgroup’ particularly in relation to black and ethnic minority potential leaders, and to homogenize those who have entered leadership to delete any ‘other’. The article concludes by suggesting current leadership theory is complicit in underpinning the process of exclusion.
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