Showcasing Diversity

50 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2010 Last revised: 25 Dec 2014

See all articles by Patrick S. Shin

Patrick S. Shin

Suffolk University Law School

Mitu Gulati

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: July 2, 2010


Diversity initiatives are commonplace in today’s corporate America. Large and successful firms frequently tout their commitments to diversity, sometimes appointing women and racial minorities to highly visible posts, including seats on their boards of directors. Why would a profit-minded firm engage in such behavior? One frequently voiced explanation is that by creating such diversity, firms send out a positive signal about their attributes: a firm’s willingness to expend resources on diversity shows its commitment to workplace fairness and equality, which makes it more attractive to potential employees, customers and financiers. This claim has considerable surface appeal not only as an explanatory thesis, but as a rationale that conveniently bridges the normative gap between corporate self interest and the promotion of social justice. In this article, we raise some difficulties with the theory of diversity-as-signal in terms of both its explanatory adequacy and its normative implications.

Suggested Citation

Shin, Patrick S. and Gulati, Mitu, Showcasing Diversity (July 2, 2010). North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 89, Forthcoming , Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 10-30, Available at SSRN:

Patrick S. Shin (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States
617-573-8182 (Phone)
617-305-3090 (Fax)

Mitu Gulati

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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