For many institutions both private and public, diversity is a noble goal and a point of evidence. UCLA Anderson is no different, Linda Baldwin (once the school's director of admissions) is the assistant dean, Diversity Initiatives; her mission (as described on our website) includes "UCLA Anderson's emphasis on ethnic and cultural diversity goes hand in hand with the global perspective that permeates the school's curricula, organizations and activities. Enhancing the diversity of UCLA Anderson's faculty, staff and student body is set forth as a specific objective in the school's Strategic Plan."
But what exactly is diversity and is its definition malleable?
UCLA Anderson Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations Miguel Unzueta says, "We find that people's perspectives on diversity are very subjective. They define (diversity) is ways that are convenient to them."
Unzueta's findings regarding the issue are found in his paper "Diversity Is What You Want It to Be: How Social-Dominance Motives Affect Construals of Diversity," co-written with Geoffrey Ho, a Ph.D. student at UCLA Anderson and Eric Knowles, an assistant professor at UC Irvine. The paper recently received attention from Science Daily, who wrote:
Unzueta, the study's lead author, notes that "diversity" historically meant inclusiveness toward historically disadvantaged groups. Now, however, the term is commonly used to refer to people who are different in any way (even personality traits and food preferences) -- and that, Dr. Unzueta argues, may be making the concept useless. Dr. Unzueta saw this play out first hand at the universities he was part of and the organizations he studied. "It seemed like everyone was very comfortable talking about diversity, but not really race and gender," says Unzueta, "The problem is, we could all be talking about diversity and we could all mean different things. It's a very abstract, euphemistic catch-all."
Unzueta told The UCLA Anderson Blog that those who benefit from social inequality, such as those with a high social dominance orientation (SDO), find ways of finding diversity in companies other than racial diversity as a means of labeling such a company "diverse."
"Diversity is a buzzword," Unzueta says. "'The term 'diversity' has been broadened and marginalized."