Present Value: Beyond the buzz, a conversation about diversity, inclusion, and belonging

By: Present Value Podcast Team
portrait of Michelle Duguid

Michelle M. Duguid, associate dean of diversity, inclusion and belonging for the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

Present Value, an independent editorial project produced and hosted by Johnson students, had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle M. Duguid, associate dean of  diversity, inclusion and belonging for the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and associate professor of management and organizations in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

Present Value can be streamed through the Present Value website or listened to through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Diversity and belonging improve a group’s creativity and efficacy

Associate Dean Michelle M. Duguid discussed topics ranging from her research on diversity in the workplace to her strategy for creating lasting change in her new role in this discussion with Present Value host Maria Castex, MBA ’21.

The conversation started off with a discussion of Duguid’s academic research, focusing first on individual and group processes that affect creativity and the quality of decision-making. Duguid explained some of the takeaways from this body of research, which shows that diversity affects the performance of the entire group not only by providing varied perspectives, but by also augmenting the creativity and efficacy of group members who are part of the numerical majority. But representation, she emphasized, is not all that’s important, and group performance will not necessarily improve solely through diverse membership. Ensuring that colleagues who are in the minority feel that they belong and are empowered to contribute is of utmost importance in order to tap into the benefits of diversity.

How to nurture inclusion and belonging

In increasingly diverse organizations, norms to guide “politically correct” behavior can improve creativity within a team, Duguid noted. However, some diversity and inclusion efforts can ultimately have a detrimental effect, particularly on members of the majority, if they are not framed properly. For example, increasing the awareness of the prevalence of stereotyping has had the unintended effect of actually creating a norm for stereotyping. Shifting the approach only slightly by focusing on most people’s efforts not to stereotype can have much more positive effects.

Addressing the body of work focused on status and influence, Duguid discussed the forces that can either encourage or discourage minorities from advocating for others within their group. Sponsorship is a necessity, particularly for women and racial or ethnic minorities, she argued. Minority group members must cultivate relationships with colleagues who are part of the majority to navigate effectively within an organization.

Cultivating sponsorship and allyship

Sponsors are allies who wield some sort of authority or positional power within an institution. Allyship requires individuals, particularly those with privilege, to push beyond self-reflection and take action to intervene and advocate for their minority peers. These values inform Duguid’s vision for change in the SC Johnson College, which seeks to weave diversity, inclusion, and belonging across the organization, within classrooms, recruiting, student life, and beyond. Duguid’s approach is to balance the academic rigor of data gathering with a need for transparency and action driven through four committees: measurement and accountability, representation and retention, curriculum and classroom, and culture, engagement, and belonging.

With support from the SC Johnson College leadership, Duguid has already begun to create impact through a number of initiatives, including pronoun workshops and business cases discussed in classes that feature diverse protagonists grappling with diversity and inclusion issues.

For more, check out the full-length Present Value podcast, Beyond the Buzz: A Conversation About Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging | Dean Michelle Duguid. Listen, subscribe, and share!

About Michelle M. Duguid

Michelle M. Duguid is the associate dean of diversity, inclusion and belonging for the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and associate professor of management and organizations in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management. Her primary area of research investigates the interplay of social status, power, politics, influence, and diversity in organizations, with a particular focus on the effect of social status, power, and inter- and intra-group relations on perceptions and interactions. She also does research which examines individual and group processes that affect creativity and the quality of decision-making. Duguid serves on the editorial board of Organization Science, the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review and Personnel Psychology. Her research has been widely published in numerous peer-reviewed academic journals, including the Administrative Science Quarterly, The Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Organization Science, and Psychological Science. Her work has also been cited in numerous high-profile media outlets, including Forbes, The New Yorker, Fast Company, NPR, The New York Times, and the Economist. Duguid received both her MS and PhD in organizational behavior from Cornell University.

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Present Value Podcast Team

The Present Value podcast team of contributing authors highlights new episodes. Current contributors in the MBA Class of 2021 include Alex Vorwald, Paul Witko, and Maria Castex.

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