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January 29, 2022

Effecting Real Progress in Executive Diversity and Inclusion

Meaningful progress in increasing executive diversity requires a little less conversation and a lot more action.


How Dynamic Conservatism Leads to Diversity Dodges

Aware of the ways in which organizations defend themselves against change that threatens their social structures, philosopher and social theorist Donald Schön noted that organizations will “fight like mad to stay the same.”5 Schön introduced the concept of dynamic conservatism to explain seemingly irrational responses by organizations to change and uncertainty, noting that great ideas that can reshape an industry or organization are almost always resisted because they upset the social hierarchy within the system. Systems thinker Russell Ackoff, a friend and colleague of Schön’s, was fond of saying that managers in organizations were rewarded for maintaining the status quo.

Schön further hypothesized that organizations resist change in proportion to its magnitude. Thus, it can be predicted that an organization that undertakes a major change, like hiring many more Black executives, will energetically resist those efforts with multiple defenses. Schön’s concept of dynamic conservatism argues that organizations make token changes in order to ward off substantive ones. This argument is especially relevant today — and the basis of the dodges that we delineate below. Here we seek to show how dynamic conservatism manifests by examining four ways that organizations avoid making substantive improvements or commitments to executive diversity — the recruitment, retention, mentoring, career development, pay equity, and promotion of Black people in senior positions.

Effecting Real Progress in Executive Diversity and Inclusion



Posted by ACASA on January 29, 2022 at 10:35 PM in blog post, Current Affairs | Permalink


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