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Underrepresentation, social networks and sense of belonging to organizational leadership domains


Academy of Management Proceedings


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Brands R A;Rattan A;Ibarra H

Publication Year



Despite external monitoring of the diversity of top management teams and the widespread adoption of diversity practices within organizations, women and individuals who are members of racial minorities remain under-represented in organizational leadership roles. In this theoretical paper we claim that in order to fully understand the persistent lack of diversity in organizational leadership, organizational theory and research needs to differentiate between the objective representation of women and minorities in the workplace and their subjective experience of belonging and inclusion as organizational members. To this end, we present a theoretical model that integrates research on psychological sense of belonging with social network research to delineate the processes by which organizational-level diversity cues are translated to individuals’ sense of belonging to organizational leadership via interactions that take place in their informal social networks. Implications for theory and directions for future research are discussed.


Diversity; Leadership; Social networks

Available on ECCH


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