Demography and Diversity in Organizations: A Review of 20 Years of Research


The paper provides a systematic review of over 80 studies regarding diversity and its implications for how organizations should think about managing an increasingly diverse workforce.

The authors conclude that contrary to conventional wisdom, diversity by itself is more likely to impede than enhance group performance. Simply having more diversity is no guarantee that the group will make better decisions or function effectively.

Since diversity is a reality in companies and an important social value in society, organizations should take steps to maximize the benefits while minimizing the drawbacks.

Key Points:

  • Diversity is not an unmitigated good—it can have both positive and negative effects on group performance.
  • Understanding the potential negative consequences of diversity can help organizations avoid them.
  • Company culture matters—the same cognitive processes we use to highlight differences between ourselves and others can be used to define inclusive categories in the context of a culture that encourages it.


Awareness and healthy company culture can help organizations ensure that diversity has a positive instead of negative impact on group performance.

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