Everyday Considerations

Scott E. Page, Ph.D. demonstrates the benefits of diversity in social contexts in his most current book, The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams Pay Off in the Knowledge Economy.
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Everyday ConsiderationsScott E. Page, Ph.D., the Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science, and Economics at the University of Michigan, is the author of five books, including The Difference, which demonstrates the benefits of diversity in social contexts, and his most current book, The Diversity Bonus: How Great Teams Pay Off in the Knowledge Economy.

Dr. Page said he uses technology to help stay on course. A change in protocols and organizational routines can help leaders monitor their efforts toward creating a more diverse, equitable workforce, he said.

In line with the notion that diversity training can’t be the stand-alone fixture of a diversity program, Dr. Page noted, “The issue is less how I score on an implicit-bias test and more about my daily measureable actions — to the extent that they’re measureable — how am I performing in terms of communication, promotions, and assignments?”

Dr. Page said he uses metrics available in Microsoft® Office to track, for example, the number and lengths of emails he’s sending to female colleagues versus male colleagues.

“How many notes did I send in a day? What was the nature of those communications? You can 360 [degree look at] it. Look at your own personal behavior,” Dr. Page said. “If you don’t measure, you cannot manage.”

It’s important that the leaders meet certain thresholds that demonstrate zero tolerance for discrimination — because small amounts of discrimination accumulate over time, Dr. Page said. Requiring leaders to meet certain standards showing inclusiveness and performance, tied to their promotions and compensation, can work, he said.

Dr. Page pointed out that similarly, leaders can track whether women, people of color, or nontraditional employees are being assigned to remote locations or being asked to attend meetings at 6 o’clock in the morning or entertain clients at hockey games, for example, when these requirements don’t work with women’s or other nontraditional employees’ lifestyles.

“If the employee doesn’t like hockey and/or would rather be with the kids in the evenings, why is entertaining clients at nighttime hockey games a big part of the job?” he said.

The essential underlying belief and experience must be that a diverse workplace “makes us better at what we do,” Dr. Page said.

Dr. Page is also the author of Complex Adaptive Systems (with John Miller), which describes complexity theory, and Diversity and Complexity, which explores the contributions of diversity within complex systems.


Note: For more on the diversity bonus, please see Dr. Page’s video.

A panel discussion on the topic, including Dr. Page, is also available.