London School of Economics and Political Science: Studying the link between diversity and productivity

The Inclusion Initiative (TII) at LSE has been awarded £2 million by the Economic and Social Research Council to study the link between diversity and productivity, in collaboration with researchers from Institute for Fiscal Studies, University of Sheffield, University College London and University of Warwick.

Over the next three years, Dr Grace Lordan, founding director of TII, will lead this innovative collaboration, Diversity and Productivity from Education to Work (DaPEW), which will advance understanding of the barriers and facilitators to creating diverse workforces, and provide new evidence on the impact of diversity on business performance, and how firms can maximise the benefits of diverse teams. It will also explore the crucial role of the education system as the start of the ‘leaky pipeline’ in which individuals from under-represented groups may lose opportunities to gain skills and access productive career pathways, hampering firms’ efforts to increase diversity. DaPEW will cover traditional measures of diversity (gender, ethnicity) but also look beyond these to consider socio-economic background, care status, health status and geography.

A multidisciplinary team will tackle the project’s questions using cutting edge qualitative and quantitative methods from a number of disciplinary perspectives. An important innovation is that it will work hand in hand with businesses to design, test and implement the recommendations from its research, directly affecting practice and hence workplace diversity. This will allow DaPEW to have an immediate impact on improving the opportunities of under-represented groups, in addition to increasing diversity in a way that maximises the benefits to firms.

Dr Lordan said: “A lot of research on the topics and productivity, either together or separately, point out problems and offer no solution. I find this utterly frustrating. DaPEW’s starting point is solution based. We will work with businesses, policy makers and other stakeholders to ensure that DaPEW leaves a legacy of practical solutions behind that improve productivity, and also the experience of under-represented colleagues throughout their careers. We will have an advisory board of the most senior leaders in business to ensure we keep our promises.”

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