CGO Commentaries are articles adapted from talks or papers delivered by our faculty affiliates and other distinguished scholars and practitioners. They highlight current and emerging topics in gender equity, diversity and organizational studies. Click on the links below to access the documents as a free PDF download.

Sustaining Employee Engagement Through the Lens of Appreciative Inquiry & Relational Practice

CGO Commentaries No. 6 

This article explores a managerial approach that supports increased employee engagement through a leadership lens that integrates the concepts of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and Relational Practice (RP). The authors identify three significant ways leaders can approach building a positive company culture as well as steward vital relationships to cultivate an inspired, productive and engaged organization: build on passion and strengths, focus on learning, and infuse diverse voices. Throughout the article, the authors benchmark best practices at EILEEN FISHER, Inc., (EF), a luxury-clothing design and retail firm for women. EILEEN FISHER, Inc. serves as a role model for organizational philosophy, processes and action that distinctively align with these three ways to sustain engagement. Following this discussion, the article extends the EF connection with AI and RP through a short story that demonstrates how a new team started and succeeded with the AI and RP leadership lens. The article ends by offering some concrete steps for implementation by organizational leaders.

Women in Organizations: Why Our Differences Matter and What to Do About It

CGO Commentaries No. 5 

This article is drawn from the opening keynote address that Evangelina Holvino, CGO Senior Research Fellow, delivered at a New England Women of Color Town Hall meeting.

This article begins with the premise that the best way for women to achieve power, support each other, and make our organizations better and more effective is by engaging with our differences as women within and across racial-ethnic groups. But facing our differences requires challenging the dominant cultural assumption that the best way to connect with other women is through our similarities. Holvino reviews information to support the importance of attending to our differences and presents examples of how ignoring our differences harms us all and diminishes our effectiveness in the organizations in which we work. She concludes by sharing four skills that CGO scholars have found useful in working with differences.

Releasing the Double Bind of Visibility for Minorities in the Workplace

CGO Commentaries No. 4 

Looking at lessons learned from NBC's hit reality TV show The Apprentice, Stacy Blake-Beard, CGO faculty affiliate, and Laura Morgan Roberts of Harvard Business School discuss two frequently employed visibility strategies and their implications for minorities who choose to use them.

Even if you've never seen an episode of The Apprentice, you've probably heard about the show and seen the contestants. The show raises questions about leadership that we all love to debate. Yet discussions after the conclusion of the first season failed to focus on the underlying issues of race, gender, and class that scripted the group dynamics and created the true drama in the show. In this article, authors Stacy Blake-Beard and Laura Morgan Roberts discuss two frequently employed visibility strategies exemplified by first season contestants Kwame and Omarosa and their implications for minorities who choose to use them. The authors also offer advice on how minorities can strategically manage their visibility most effectively in work organizations. They illustrate the dynamics that come into play as minorities adopt these visibility strategies of standing out and blending in, with a particular focus on the double bind that minorities face in making themselves visible in their work organizations.

Beyond Diversity: Working Across Differences for Organizational Change

Publication No. 3 

The piece is based on presentations made as part of the CGO-hosted conference, Gender at Work: A BOLD New Perspective.

CGO's most recent research focuses on the possibilities and challenges of working with and across social identity differences in order to increase equity and effectiveness in organizations. In particular, CGO is exploring how to support developing alliances and coalitions among different social identity groups to sustain and institutionalize organizational change efforts for equity, inclusion, and diversity. Disturbed by the trend that diversity change efforts are often thought of as a "nice thing to do" but inconsequential to effective business practices, authors Evangelina Holvino, Bridgette Sheridan, and Gelaye Debebe seek to present an alternative. Using a "complexity lens" to understand gender, which sees differences as simultaneous processes of identity and institutional practice, leads to new concepts, practices, and skills that can be used to effectively work with and across social differences. The authors discuss these new ideas and present stories from their work that illustrate the need for and effectiveness of working across differences.

How Do I Talk to You, My White Sister?

CGO Commentaries No. 2 

This article is drawn from a keynote address that Mary McRae, Associate Professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Education, delivered at Working Mother's Best Companies for Women of Color National Conference.

Stereotyping and projecting allow White women and women of color to maintain their places in the status quo. They keep us from initiating and managing systemic changes and prevent us from recognizing racial differences as having the same legitimacy as gender differences. As a result, when women of color engage in discussions with White women, each often ends up being frustrated and thus move back to their respective groups for solace and affirmation. Author Mary McRae addresses this breakdown in communication, sharing what she perceives as a problem that occurs in this process and making recommendations for addressing this problem. By elaborating on experiences women of color and White women share and do not share-such as sexism, stereotypes, and racism-and by describing the effects of the anger and fear that result from the experiences not shared, McRae helps move the critical discussion forward.

Rethinking Management: What's Gender Got to Do With It?

CGO Commentaries No. 1 

This first edition of Commentaries is based on presentations made at a CGO-hosted event entitled Gender at Work: A BOLD New Perspective.

At CGO, we have discovered that addressing gender issues in organizations is the gateway to rethinking management. In this inaugural CGO Commentaries paper, the authors share four illustrations of CGO process that focus on four different core aspects of management: leadership, careers and merit, negotiation, and globalization. While these stories appear on the surface to be four typical stories about advancement opportunities, when examined more deeply, they present opportunities to improve management practices. CGO scholars Robin Ely, Maureen Scully, Deborah Kolb, and Evangelina Holvino show how the CGO approach unpacks gendered assumptions about organizational norms to see whom these assumptions are serving and who is left out, and moreover, to see if there are alternative ways that might serve people and their organizations better.