Diversity & Minorities: Layered Risks of Discrimination

By Dhruv Sharma


This paper formulates a theory to identify at risk minority/protected class employees. The theory suggest that there are minorities with layered minority discrimination risk, due on the presence of multiple additive factors, which can result in higher eccentricity quotients, and lower idiosyncrasy credit, which in turn results in a more biased view of the employee in terms of lower than average competence. As such the author suggests a process to manage and mitigate ‘extreme’ diversity risk. The author suggests that further research on extreme statistics and rare statistics should be done to determine how to leverage statistics to detect such risks, as such risk are incurred for a small sample of employees. For now the theoretical model based on the reinterpretation of idiosyncrasy credit and notion of layered risk serve as a powerful conceptual tool to help stop or detect such discrimination.


An eminent management theory in the organizational behavior literature is that of “Eccentricity Quotient”(Kolb, Osland). This theory suggests that people who tend to be more eccentric tend to have to work harder to compensate for their eccentricity. This theory has been an offshoot of theory of idiosyncrasy credits pioneered in the 60s/70s (Eric Hollander; Thomas Stone). A simple example of this, is the TV show on FOX called House, where the eccentric but brilliant Dr. House is allowed to mistreat people and patients. His eccentric behavior is socially acceptable because his brilliance of treating patients and solving puzzling medical mysteries is phenomenal. One other ramification of this phenomenon that people who act like jerks are often thought of as brilliant or smart because they can afford to be jerks. Likewise people who are nice are taken for granted. People at times take other people’s niceness for granted and assume it is compensating for a lacking in intelligence or capability. In fact research shows people in elevated positions tend to act more assertively and like jerks (Sutton, 2007). I am assuming this is probably due to people’s bias toward genuflexing to people who they assume are better qualified or smarter due to being in a higher position. Of course, aggressive people tend to do well in hierarchical companies where there assertiveness is tantamount to, if not more success inductive, to intellectual superiority. While these tendencies are biased and inaccurate they occur. Despite these innocuous applications an important implication of this theory is that minorities are especially at risk of discrimination if they are excluded due to their natural ‘idiosynchrasy’. The remedy for this in general has been proscribed as ‘Diversity training’, where people are made ‘sensitive’ to minorities and told to be cautious with what they say or do. This in turn generally misses the point of the key of building a diverse and inclusive weltaunschaung or mindset. I think companies would we better served by having discussions and evens like ‘bafa/bafa’ to open the minds of their employees rather than provide scary diversity training steeped in a companies fear of litigation (Duplaga, 1997).

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