Synopses & Reviews
The idea for this book came to Martin Davidson during a disarmingly honest conversation with a CFO he worked with. “Look,” the executive said, clearly troubled. “I know we can get a diverse group of people around the table. But so what? What difference does it really make to getting bottom-line results?”
Answering the “so what?” led Davidson to explore the flaws in how companies typically manage diversity. They dont integrate diversity into their overall business strategy. They focus on differences that have little impact on their business. And often their diversity efforts end up hindering the professional development of the very people they were designed to help.
Davidson explains how what he calls Leveraging Difference™ turns persistent diversity problems into solutions that drive business results. Difference becomes a powerful source of sustainable competitive advantage instead of a distracting mandate handed down from HR.
To begin with, leaders must identify the differences most important to achieving organizational goals, even if the differences arent the obvious ones. The second challenge is to help employees work together to understand the ways these differences matter to the business. Finally, leaders need to experiment with how to use these relevant differences to get things done. Davidson provides compelling examples of how organizations have tackled each of these challenges.
Ultimately this is a book about leadership. As with any other strategic imperative, leaders need to take an active role—drive rather than just delegate. Successfully leveraging difference can be what distinguishes an ordinary organization from an extraordinary one.
The End of Diversity As We Know It was named by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title in 2012.
"Martin Davidson has developed a transformative insight: that a key to building innovative companies is to replace well-intentioned but generally ineffective ‘managing diversity’ programs with Leveraging Difference initiatives. I would highly recommend this book to any CEO, manager, or HR professional who wants to build a sustainable, high-performance organization."
—Decker Anstrom, US Ambassador, World Radiocommunication Conference, US Department of State; former President, Landmark Communications; and former Chair, The Weather Channel Companies
“This book presents a realistic look at the diversity challenge and proposes pragmatic ways to achieve meaningful change along with useful tools for the journey. I wish that I had read this before I became CEO.”
—Steve Reinemund, Dean of Business, Wake Forest University School of Business, and retired Chair and CEO, PepsiCo
“Martin Davidson brings a fresh and compelling look at why our three-decades-long investment in ‘managing diversity’ has come up short. He then offers a new paradigm for guiding our efforts to make diversity a resource for organizational and individual development and performance. Based on extensive research, The End of Diversity as We Know It offers new insights and tools that will help leaders ensure their companies and organizations get the benefits of the diversity within them.”
—David A. Thomas, Dean, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University; former Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; and coauthor of Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America
“Martin Davidson makes us all take pause and reflect on the diversity and inclusion work we’ve been part of over the past decade or so and how we must move ahead to transform this critical work across all dimensions of difference. This book is truly thought-provoking and provides excellent practical tools."
—Claudette J. Whiting, President, CJW Consulting, and former head of diversity, Microsoft Corporation and DuPont Corporation
“I would hope every industry leader would read and embrace the book’s major conclusions and recommendations to not only alter marginally successful diversity practices but, more importantly, leverage difference to enhance shareholder value.”
—James Lowry, Senior Advisor, The Boston Consulting Group
Martin Davidson iives in Cleveland, Ohio.Finally, a diversity book that dares to tell the truth about the limitations of the “managing diversity” paradigm. Davidson (Darden Graduate School of Business, Univ. of Virginia) offers evidence-based arguments that call for a new way to see and engage diversity in organizations, using his “Leveraging Difference” model. He is quick to point out that the stark contrast between the two diversity approaches he describes is magnified for effect, but he does not exaggerate the frustrations felt by practitioners tasked with implementing the quick-fix diversity initiatives, which usually end up an extension of the HR department and an add-on to core organizational strategies. The author discusses how an emphasis on comfort-focused verses purpose-focused diversity programs has ensured that past efforts resulted in only short-term gains, which were not necessarily tied to the bottom line. Some striking examples of leveraging difference come from Davidson’s clients, and the insights gained through the more strategic approach presented in this book give hope to practitioners of diversity training like this reviewer. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels of undergraduate and graduate students, researchers/faculty, and practitioners.
Martin Davidson makes the bold claim that millions--maybe billions--of dollars in diversity training are being wasted. Attrition statistics show a revolving door for women and minorities, but companies are still recruiting and promoting employees as they've always done. As Chief Diversity Officer at the Darden School of Business (University of Virginia) and as a consultant with top Fortune 100 firms like AT&T and Merrill Lynch, Martin Davidson has found a better way: Stop forcing diversity on people as a goal in and of itself, a matter of percentages and head counts, and instead use it strategically, creating business improvement strategies that draw on employees' different strengths. Make cultivating difference a core competency and enjoy the improvements in innovation, marketing, and business execution that are the natural result. Stop focusing on a narrow band of superficially diverse groups, and welcome deeper differences in lifestyles, economic backgrounds, and viewpoints.
Davidson calls this new way "Leveraging Difference," which sees diversity NOT as a problem to be solved, but as an opportunity to make better business strategies. Net result: diversity that really moves the organization forward, not just another training program that changes little.
About the Author
Martin N. Davidson is associate professor of leadership and organizational behavior at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, and served as associate dean and chief diversity officer. He has consulted with dozens of Fortune 500 firms, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, including Merrill Lynch Global Wealth & Investment Management, AT&T, Pitney Bowes, Harvard University, and the Nature Conservancy. He was elected chair of the Gender and Diversity in Organizations Division of the Academy of Management and has been featured in numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Businessweek, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and National Public Radio.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Challenge and the Opportunity
Chapter 1: You Must Stop "Doing" Diversity
Chapter 2: What Leveraging Difference is and Why it Matters
Chapter 3: Seeing Difference: Perceive the variety of differences that could matter
Chapter 4: Understand Difference: Undertake careful and sustained learning about differences you see
Chapter 5: Engage Difference: Choose whether to change in light of the differences you’ve seen and understood. Develop an action plan
Chapter 6: Leveraging Difference: Strategic integration of changes connected to the relevant differences so that the organization transforms how it does business and drives desired new results.
Chapter 7: Leveraging Difference to Manage People—Twelve Angry Men
Chapter 8: Leveraging Difference to Generate Innovation
Conclusion: Learning is the Bottom Line