This conceptual paper addresses the diversity challenge organizations face as they seek to enhance opportunities for marginalized groups without damaging fairness perceptions for advantaged groups. This challenge stems from societal-level conflicts between advantaged and marginalized groups which generate a paradoxical tension between the values of diversity and meritocracy. The diversity-meritocracy paradox manifests in interaction as an identity validation-threat system so that events benefitting marginalized groups threaten advantaged groups and vice versa. However, diversity and meritocracy are also interrelated, and fulfilling each of these values supports the other through their beneficial effects on organizational justice. Managing the paradox entails supporting perceptions of process integrity with diversity practices while supporting perceptions of individual competence with meritocracy practices. Balanced combinations of practices create organizational ambidexterity to fulfil diversity and meritocracy pressures simultaneously. Research is needed examining how organizations leverage the interrelatedness of diversity and meritocracy to achieve diversity, inclusion, and justice among employees.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- Strategy and Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation