Dialogues of Difference

By: Joseph Jenkins  

In recent years, diversity has become a central priority for organizational leaders around the world. Despite the increased value and emphasis placed upon this term, diversity’s meaning is still not clearly defined by the general public. Some organizational leaders respond to this level of ambiguity by gravitating toward one specific understanding of diversity, while dismissing alternative expressions of difference. I have referred to this phenomenon in previous studies as "the diversity paradox:" a propensity for intercultural organizations to promote one potential understanding of diversity in a way that diminishes alternative possibilities of organizational life. Building upon four years of ethnographic fieldwork, this study continues a dialogue surrounding the diversity paradox by offering three practical implications for cultivating truly diverse organizations: (a) member-generated perspectives, (b) untethered interaction, and (c) dialogues of difference. Each of these implications was co-created alongside the participants of this study, highlighting the value of collaborative research and underscoring the capacity for applied research to construct healthier organizations. Each of these implications also holds promise for intercultural leaders and members who hope to mitigate a limited understanding of difference within their own organizations.

The Diversity Paradox, Fractionation, Tokenism, Genuine Dialogue, Reflexivity
Organizational Diversity
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Joseph Jenkins

Associate Professor (Communication), Campus Coordinator (CSU Affordable Learning Solutions), Communication, California State University Channel Islands, United States
United States

J. Jacob Jenkins (Ph.D. in Communication, University of South Florida; Bachelor of Architecture, Drury University) is an Associate Professor of Organizational Communication, Program Advisor for CSUCI's Communication Program, and Campus Coordinator for CSU's Affordable Learning Solutions Initiative (AL$). Jenkins also serves as a Board Member for Big Brothers-Big Sisters Ventura County, Executive Council Member for the Western States Communication Association, and Faculty Lead for CSUCI's Project for Aligning Learning and Academic Success, among other things. Jenkins' work focuses on the intersection(s) between community, religion, and race/ethnicity. His specific research interests include organizational leadership, community engagement, and positive organizational change. To date, Jenkins' efforts to help build community within racially/ethnically diverse settings has been honored by the Carl Couch Institution, Waterhouse Family Institute, CMM Institute for Social Evolution, and American Christian Writers Association, to name but a few. Jenkins has received teaching honors at both the regional national level, including the National Communication Association's "Teaching on Teaching Spotlight Series" in 2016, and selection as a Top 4 Finalist for CSUCI's "Maximus Teaching Award" in both 2015 and 2017. In 2016, Jenkins was also named as one of the Pacifiic Coast Busines Times' "40 Under 40," and in 2018 he was chosen as an OER Fellow for the Open Education Group. Jenkins has traveled extensively through 5 continents and 26 countries. He has completed humanitarian work in China, Japan, Mexico, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Great Britain, and the United States. He has studied abroad in Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Vatican City, and The Netherlands, and he has has led his own study abroad courses to England. Jenkins currently lives within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean with his wife and two children.