Case | HBS Case Collection | December 2004 (Revised April 2006)

Managing Diversity at Spencer Owens & Co.

by Robin J. Ely and Ingrid Vargas


Spencer Owens & Co, a disguised consulting firm, focuses on domestic and international economic development. As an extension of the firm's commitment to social justice, 20 years ago, Spencer Owens management introduced an affirmative action hiring and promotion program. Within 10 years, the firm had achieved the most diverse support and professional staff in the industry. Yet, despite management's good intentions, Spencer Owens--and, increasingly, its work--suffered from acrimonious staff relations and frequent recriminations around racial issues. The protagonist of the case tries to diagnose the problem.

Keywords: Working Conditions; Selection and Staffing; Development Economics; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Employees; Diversity; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Consulting Industry;


Ely, Robin J., and Ingrid Vargas. "Managing Diversity at Spencer Owens & Co." Harvard Business School Case 405-048, December 2004. (Revised April 2006.)