The Potential of Organizational Inclusion to Improve Performance

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Reviewed by Brian Xu


In recent years, public organizations in the United States have increasingly recognized the importance of hiring a diverse workforce that reflects the demographics of the country. Along with this trend, these organizations have also focused  on diversity management policies, which include flexible work options, mentoring for individuals from underrepresented populations, and regulations that promote a family-friendly environment. While many of these changes have led to positive effects  for workers, diversity management alone is arguably insufficient for manifesting  the true potential of a diverse workforce. 

The author of this study advocates that institutions promote organizational inclusive behaviors (OIB), instead of simply focusing on managing diversity. The author classifies these behaviors into three major categories:

  • Commitment from top leadership to foster inclusion
  • Ability of employees to influence organizational decisions
  • Fair or equitable treatment from management

By focusing on these major categories of organizational inclusive behaviors, the author argues that public organizations can more effectively create an inclusive environment for their workers, which will in turn improve performance. This study aims to provide evidence to support this hypothesis, and address a significant gap in existing research on this specific phenomenon.

Dr. Meghna Sabharwal is the Department Head of the Public and Nonprofit Management program at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her work primarily focuses on public human resource management, including diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) best practices. More recently, she has conducted research on understanding immigration patterns of high-skilled workers.

Methods and Findings

The study surveys public managers in the state of Texas across five different departments, such as the Texas Education Agency, and the State Governor’s Office. A total of 815 employees were contacted for this study, and 198 surveys were returned. The survey consisted of 100+ questions about individuals’ perceptions and experiences related to their work. To measure organizational performance, survey items asked workers to rate several dimensions of the quality and skill of their unit. The study used regression analysis to determine the effects of diversity management and inclusion on organizational performance. 

Overall, the results reveal that diversity management policies like flexible work options improved organizational performance. However, when combined with these diversity management policies,among organizations that have strong diversity management policies, those that have a commitment from leadership and empower employees with decision-making power (two of the organizational inclusive behaviors) tend to have greater organizational performance.


Ultimately, the author recommends that public organizations should not only implement diversity management practices but should also foster an inclusive environment for their employees. Leaders should demonstrate their dedication to inclusion across the entire organization, and employees should be given more agency to contribute to decision-making processes. The author cautions that these initiatives should not be carried out in place of existing diversity management policies; rather, both diversity and inclusion practices need to be combined. 

Because the data from this study was constrained to a handful of organizations in Texas, future research can leverage data from more diverse populations to see if the results hold true under other conditions. Additionally, since the OIBs and organizational performance were measured through questionnaires, future research can develop more objective metrics for both factors.


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