Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Strategies for diversifying corporate leadership

Two Kenan-Flagler Business School experts share their thoughts on issues that challenge progress for corporate diversity.

Silhouette graphic of employees at conference table in front of cityscape
In recent years, corporate diversity has been an important discussion point in the larger conversation around social justice and equity. (Kenan Institute)

Corporate diversity has been an important discussion point in a larger conversation around social justice and equity. Leaders and policymakers alike are taking aim at the status quo and seeking ways to not only diversify the corporate workspace but also ensure access to top leadership positions for historically underrepresented groups.

In recent years, corporate diversity has been an important discussion point in the larger conversation around social justice and equity. Corporate leaders and policymakers alike are taking aim at the status quo and seeking ways to not only diversify the workplace but also ensure access to top leadership positions for historically underrepresented groups.

The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise asked Elad Sherf, assistant professor of organizational behavior, and Elena Simintzi, associate professor of finance, to share their thoughts regarding long-standing systemic issues that continually challenge the progression of corporate diversity efforts.

Tell us how you and your research approach the study of corporate diversity?

Sherf: I am an organizational psychologist, which means I study the causes and consequences of attitudes and behaviors at work. My research is focused on fairness at work and, when it comes to DEI, the perceived fairness of attempts to enhance representational diversity and to improve the lived experiences of marginalized and underrepresented groups. My research examines individuals and how they react to decisions and polices related to diversity, which can help understand who and why supports or resists rules like the one that was just struck down in California.

Simintzi: My approach has always been to follow a transparent and objective scientific method to analyze the data and make statistical inferences. Although I do empirical work, I have always used economic theory to guide the empirical analysis and deliver the economic intuition of the results. My research approach is no different when I study the important topic of corporate diversity. I always adhere to the key principle that research should be objective and guided by the fundamental economic principles.

Also, my research is motivated by policy-relevant questions; my interest in topics related to corporate diversity is no exception. I hope my results can inform the debate and steer policy to achieve its objectives for all stakeholders involved.

Read the full Q&A from the Kenan Institute.