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Having a gender diverse workforce is good for business, but a new study has found it could actually have a negative effect on your employees.
An eight-year-long study from MIT looked into how offices represent a wide spectrum of gender diversity – both women-dominated and men-dominated workplaces – in the US and other countries, and also studied the employees’ level of satisfaction, cooperation and morale, among other factors.
The authors found that gender diversity definitely helps firms become more productive, but it may also reduce satisfaction among employees.
In fact, shifting from an all-male or all-female office to one split evenly along gender lines could increase revenue by roughly 41%, but individual employees may actually prefer less diverse settings.
“The more homogeneous offices have higher levels of social capital,” Sara Ellison, MIT economist and author of the study, said in a press release.
“But the interesting twist is that … higher levels of social capital are not important enough to cause those offices to perform better. The employees might be happier, they might be more comfortable, and these might be cooperative places, but they seem to perform less well.”
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The report explained this could be due to the fact that only the idea of working in a gender diverse environment made staff happy. This perception, however, did not necessarily occur in the places where more extensive gender diversity actually accompanied better bottom-line results.
“In offices where people thought the firm was accepting of diversity, they were happier and more cooperative,” Ellison said.
“But that didn’t translate into any effect on office performance. People may like the idea of a diverse workplace more than they like actual diversity in the workplace.”
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