Diversity-Valuing Behavior Results in Diminished Ratings for Non-White and Female Leaders

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When ethnic minority and women leaders advocate for demographic balance within organizations, their perceived low-status demographics become instantly salient, thus activating negative stereotypes associated with their low-status category. Perceived incompetence is the core of most of the stereotypes that tend to be leveled against non-Whites and women.

But White men who engage in diversity valuing behavior aren’t penalized because they don’t face any negative stereotypes. High-status groups are afforded “idiosyncrasy credit,” and, therefore, given freedom to deviate from the status quo. White and male leaders benefit in terms of higher performance ratings for engaging in the exact same behavior because it increases interpersonal warmth, which accounts for 82% of variance in perceptions of everyday social behaviors.

Women and ethnic minorities need to be careful when advocating for balance and diversity. This behavior may be interpreted as socially competitive; that you're doing so because you're incapable of making it on your own, so you have to resort to getting ahead by advancing your low-status category instead of performing the work.

The silver lining here is that the work to create diversity and inclusion shouldn't fall on underrepresented people anyway! White and male leaders actually benefit from engaging in diversity valuing behavior. Since they're allowed to do so without incurring the same penalties, we should be encouraging white and male leaders to fight the diversity battle along side us.