A recent Rutgers research study has identified a new twist in the science behind diversity. Researchers have determined based on analysis of Major League baseball demographic data that winning baseball teams have what are known as “demographic faultlines”. In my Diversity2.0 language these are known as “cliques.” What the researchers found was that to attract diversity most successful baseball teams had strong demographic cliques that provided comfort and support to new recruits from the same ethnic groups. These demographic cliques were largely built around race, ethnicity, and language. In other words these cliques were homogenous and were the very opposite of what most diversity practitioners preach. The traditional diversity mantra is that groups primarily built around race or ethnicity outside of cultural celebrations are a negative thing. The Rutgers research suggests something different. It says that subgroups built around race or ethnicity promotes better functioning of the team because these subgroups improve communication and colaboration between team members.
Workplace takeaway: The problem is not cliques built around race or ethnicity. Instead, it is when these cliques purposefully exclude others who do not fit the respective clique profile. For example, if you are par of a good old boys network that does everything it can do to exclude women. Then you are wrong and you are doing severe damage to your organizational culture.
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