Inclusion as The How: New Research Demonstrates that Inclusive Teams Outperform Teams that Experience Intergroup Conflict

Dr. Lisa Nishii, Associate Professor of Human Resources at Cornell, and Chair of their Industrial and Labor Relations Department, has long been one of my favorite thought leaders in the field of diversity and inclusion. Dr. Nishii has produced some of the most compelling research I have seen re: the impact of inclusion in organizations. Her latest research demonstrates that:

  • Conflict amongst colleagues is detrimental to achieving objectives and fostering employee satisfaction and engagement
  • Gender diverse teams with inclusive climates experience less conflict compared to gender diverse teams that lack an inclusive climate.
  • Lower conflict leads to better solutions where there is dual concern for self and others
  • Less inclusive climates result in destructive group behaviors
  • Teams that invest in establishing connections and norms that embrace diverse perspectives benefit most due to learning and creativity

A key element of this research that I would like to call attention to may not surprise anyone, but is worth reinforcing: organizations that do a good job of valuing women experience less conflict, more inclusion, and better results. Key dimensions of fostering an inclusive work environment include: fairness and equity in employment practices, integrative welcoming of diverse perspectives and experiences vs. requiring conformity to previously established organizational norms, and a diversity of opinions being actively sought and integrated during decision making.

In her other research related to employees with disabilities, she has found that investing in developing inclusive managers pays big dividends including:

  • Higher employee engagement and discretionary effort
  • Reduced turnover
  • Greater likelihood that people with disabilities will self identify and ask for needed accommodations
  • Managers that see the tangible benefits of diversity and inclusion and willingly embrace D&I practices in order to enhance innovation, results, and their own personal experience as an employee
  • Team members who realize they play a critical role in their experience in a work group, and who are wiling to help co-create inclusive group norms where diverse perspectives are valued and encouraged

You can find Dr. Nishii’s research report at:



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