Diversity and Productivity: from Education to Work (DaPEW)

Lead Research Organisation: London School of Economics & Pol Sci
Department Name: Psychological and Behavioural Science


Summary: The UK has lower productivity than many comparable economies. There are also large differences in education choices and career outcomes between similarly qualified individuals from different backgrounds. These differences are detrimental to productivity, as they suggest there is substantial 'lost potential' of high-quality individuals who are excluded from opportunities for reasons other than skills and talent. It also means that businesses lack diversity, especially in high status occupations, which can hold back productivity, particularly if the firm's core business involves creating products, supplying services to diverse populations, or solving complex problems, where bringing together diverse perspectives is particularly valuable.

However, while recent evidence for the United States suggests that the potential productivity gains from increasing workforce diversity across the economy are large, we know very little about how the benefits of diversity can be harnessed to increase productivity within firms. Nor do we have a clear understanding of the most effective strategies that firms can employ to increase diversity at all levels within their organisations.

Diversity and Productivity from Education to Work (DaPEW) 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. We 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.

DaPEW is split into two strands:

Strand 1: What is the relationship between diversity, inclusion and productivity?
1.1 At what levels of seniority and across which occupations is diversity strongly linked to productivity?
1.2 To what extent is organisational inclusion necessary to reap the gains from diversity?
1.3 What are the barriers to personal productivity, as perceived by diverse professional workers in the UK?
1.4 How can we get diverse teams working better together?
1.5 How does occupational mismatch across diverse groups affect individual- and firm-level productivity?
1.6 How is individual productivity affected by diversity amoungst colleagues?

Strand 2: How can we engender greater diversity in firms and their talent pipeline?
2.1 At what stage are we losing diverse talent along the pathway to senior professional jobs? How does this vary across employer recruitment, performance management and promotion processes?
2.2 How do education pathways differ for diverse individuals and areas? When is productive potential lost?
2.3 What drives mismatch in higher education course choices for diverse students, and what can education policy do to reduce these inequalities?
2.4 Can alleviating constraints on subject choice generate greater diversity in education pathways?

Our multidisciplinary team will tackle these questions using cutting edge qualitative and quantitative methods from a number of disciplinary perspectives. An important innovation of DaPEW is that we will work hand in hand with businesses to design, test and implement the recommendations from our research, directly affecting practice and hence workplace diversity. This will allow us 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. The strong networks that we have with businesses and policymakers will additionally ensure that DaPEW has high impact beyond the firms with whom we will work directly.


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