Blind spots in diversity with Jojanneke van der Toorn

Determining the next step in improving diversity management

Enterprises and governmental organisations consciously work on increasing the diversity in their organisations, but this isn't always successful. What traps are they getting stuck in?

In collaboration with the UYA, social and organisational psychologist Dr. Jojanneke van der Toorn organised the Blindspots in Diversity Management symposium on January 17th at Leiden University. The programme focused on blind spots in LGBT diversity management and the subtle sociopsychological mechanisms that preserve inequality at work. 

rainbow flag

Unintended consequences

One of these blind spots is the strong focus on diversity and the insufficient focus on inclusion. Simply increasing diversity in an organisation will not lead to any positive consequences: "Cliques could form, which may cause conflict to arise between the different groups", according to Van der Toorn. Minorities should not only get a spot in organisations, they also need to feel like they matter.

Not only that, diversity management also disproportiantely focus on certain kinds of diversity. Organisations focus more on visible characteristics of diversity (gender, skin colour) and not enough on invlisible diversity (sexuality). This unintentionally leads to exclusion of certain minority groups. 

Thorough research

Organisations usually have the right intentions, but their diversity policies are often set up without knowing what exactly works. Because of this, Van der Toorn finds it necessary to systematically create diversity policy based on insights of scientific research. One institute that gives insight on current diversity management in organisations is the Inclusiviteitsmonitor, co-established by Van der Toorn. 

Beyond societal benefits, diversity and inclusion also lead to improvement of productivity and achievements at work. However, this is only the case with good diversity policy. Before that point is reached, a lot of work needs to be done.