Getting Serious About Diversity: Enough Already with the Business Case” has won the 2020 Harvard Business Review (HBR) McKinsey Award, which honors the best HBR article of the year.

The article, by Harvard Business School Professor Robin Ely and Morehouse College President David A. Thomas, critiques the off-cited economic case for diversity and argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, there’s no research support for the notion that diversifying the workforce automatically improves a company’s performance. To fully benefit from increased racial and gender diversity, organizations must adopt a learning orientation and be willing to change the corporate culture and power structure.

“Getting Serious About Diversity” revisits an argument Ely and Thomas made in their 1996 HBR article “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Diversity,” which outlined their research showing companies could reap the full benefits of a diverse workforce by tapping into identity-related knowledge and experiences as resources for learning how the organization could be more effective.

“‘Getting Serious About Diversity’ builds on Robin Ely and David Thomas’ pioneering arguments about workplace diversity and presents actions leaders must take to make real progress,” said Adi Ignatius, editor in chief of Harvard Business Review. “At a time when many companies are addressing diversity with new urgency, this article is an essential read.”

Robin Ely is the Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. David A. Thomas is the 12th president of Morehouse College and the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School.

The annual HBR McKinsey Awards, judged by an independent panel of business and academic leaders with input from members of HBR’s Advisory Board, commend outstanding articles published each year in Harvard Business Review. This year’s announcement appears in the May-June issue of the magazine.

This year’s HBR McKinsey Awards also recognizes two finalists:

The 2020 HBR McKinsey judges were: Trevor Fetter, Harvard Business School senior lecturer; Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, former partner of Egon Zehnder; Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School professor; Herminia Ibarra, London Business School professor.

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