Diverse but not Inclusive: How organizational status maintenance undermines social inclusion

Sandra Portocarrero*, Andrea Wessendorf, Gerardo Okhuysen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We examine how the concern to maintain organizational status undermines social inclusion. To do this, we study the experience of Electi, an elite university in Peru, as it implements a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative aimed at diversifying the student body by enrolling becarios, academically accomplished students from low-income backgrounds. Although Electi enrolled these students, the initiative could have been more effective at achieving inclusion. In particular, we find that the presence of becarios represented a potential status threat for the organization and, consequently, faculty, staff, and students engaged in actions that respond to this threat. We identify four key processes unfolding at Electi: the creation and maintenance of a student prototype, the establishment of upper-class standards as the norm, the creation of a becario stereotype, and the concealment of information that might reveal lower social class. Together, these processes undermine the inclusion objectives of the DEI initiative. We conclude by discussing the theoretical implications of our work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2023
EventAcademy of Management - Boston
Duration: 4 Aug 20238 Aug 2023


ConferenceAcademy of Management


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