Robin J. Ely

Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration
Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community

Robin Ely is Diane Doerge Wilson Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community at Harvard Business School.  She conducts research on race and gender relations in organizations with a focus on organizational change, group dynamics, learning, conflict, power, and identity.  Her recent published work includes a study of men and masculinity on offshore oil platforms, research on the impact of racial diversity on retail bank performance, and a framework for the design and delivery of women’s leadership development programs.  Professor Ely is presently conducting research on how women can be effective leaders in the face of gender stereotypes and the so-called “double bind” (the well-documented phenomenon whereby women leaders face a trade-off between being liked and being seen as competent); a study of how cultural beliefs about work and family limit both men’s and women’s ability to thrive professionally and lead whole, fulfilled lives; and a comprehensive, longitudinal study of HBS alumni career and life decisions.  In her role as Senior Associate Dean for Culture and Community, Professor Ely is leading a culture change initiative at Harvard Business School to ensure that all members of the HBS community are able to thrive and reach their potential for advancing the School’s mission. Professor Ely has taught MBA courses in leadership, diversity, teams, and statistics and doctoral courses in gender and race relations and in field research methods; she has also taught in HBS’s executive education programs, including leadership programs designed specifically for women. 

For the past several years, Professor Ely has maintained an active faculty affiliation at the Center for Gender in Organizations, Simmons Graduate School of Management, in Boston.   Prior to joining the HBS faculty, she taught at Columbia University and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.  Professor Ely received her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Yale University and her Bachelor’s degree from Smith College.  She is a member of the Academy of Management, has served on numerous editorial boards of academic journals, and is a past associate editor of Administrative Science Quarterly.

Books

  1. Reader in Gender, Work and Organization

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Labor;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., E. Foldy, and M. Scully. Reader in Gender, Work and Organization. Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishing, 2003.
  2. Mentoring Dilemmas: Developmental Relationships in Multicultural Organizations

    Keywords: Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues;

    Citation:

    Murrell, A. J., F. J. Crosby, and R. J. Ely. Mentoring Dilemmas: Developmental Relationships in Multicultural Organizations. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999.

Journal Articles

  1. Racial Diversity, Racial Asymmetries, and Team Learning Environment: Effects on Performance

    This paper argues that learning in cross-race interactions is critical for work teams to realize performance benefits from racial diversity but that diversity is a liability when society's negative stereotypes about racial minorities' competence inhibit such interactions. We analyze two years of data from 496 retail bank branches to investigate racial asymmetries in the dynamics of team learning and their impact on the link between diversity and bottom-line performance. As expected, minorities' negative assessments of their team's learning environment precipitate a negative relationship between diversity and performance, irrespective of white teammates' assessments; only when both groups view the team's learning environment as supportive-implying that the team has successfully countered the negative effects of societal stereotypes on cross-race learning-is the relationship positive. We conclude that acknowledging the impact of societal asymmetries between racial groups, especially in regard to learning, can reorient research about the link between identity-group-based diversity and performance.

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Performance; Learning; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., Irene Padavic, and David A. Thomas. "Racial Diversity, Racial Asymmetries, and Team Learning Environment: Effects on Performance." Organization Studies 33, no. 3 (March 2012): 341–362.
  2. Taking Gender into Account: Theory and Design for Women's Leadership Development Programs

    We conceptualize leadership development as identity work and show how subtle forms of gender bias in the culture and in organizations interfere with the identity work of women leaders. Based on this insight, we revisit traditional approaches to standard leadership topics, such as negotiations and leading change, as well as currently popular developmental tools, such as 360-degree feedback and networking; reinterpret them through the lens of women's experiences in organizations; and revise them in order to meet the particular challenges women face when transitioning into senior leadership. By framing leadership development as identity work, we reveal the gender dynamics involved in becoming a leader, offer a theoretical rationale for teaching leadership in women-only groups, and suggest design and delivery principles to increase the likelihood that women's leadership programs will help women advance into more senior leadership roles.

    Keywords: Programs; Prejudice and Bias; Leadership Development; Identity; Organizational Culture; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., Herminia Ibarra, and Deborah Kolb. "Taking Gender into Account: Theory and Design for Women's Leadership Development Programs." Academy of Management Learning & Education 10, no. 3 (September 2011).
  3. Stop Holding Yourself Back

    After working with hundreds of leaders in a wide variety of organizations and in countries all over the globe, the authors found one very clear pattern: when it comes to meeting their leadership potential, many people unintentionally get in their own way. Five barriers in particular tend to keep promising managers from becoming exceptional leaders: people overemphasize personal goals, protect their public image, turn their competitors into two-dimensional enemies, go it alone instead of soliciting support and advice, and wait for permission to lead. Troy, a customer service manager, endangered his job and his company's reputation by focusing on protecting his position, not helping his team; when a trusted friend advised him to change his behavior, the results were striking. Anita's insistence on sticking to the tough persona she'd created for herself caused her to ignore the more intuitive part of the leadership equation, with disastrous results—until she let go of the need to appear invulnerable and reached out to another manager. Jon, a personal trainer who had virtually no experience with either youth development programs or urban life, opened a highly successful gym for inner-city kids at risk; he refused to be daunted by his lack of expertise and decided to simply "go for it." As these and other examples from the authors' research demonstrate, being a leader means making an active decision to lead. Only then will the workforce-and society-benefit from the enormous amount of talent currently sitting on the bench.

    Keywords: Transformation; Decision Choices and Conditions; Leadership; Personal Development and Career; Personal Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Morriss, Anne, Robin J. Ely, and Frances X. Frei. "Stop Holding Yourself Back." Harvard Business Review 89, nos. 1-2 (January–February 2011).
  4. An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender: The Unlikely Case of Offshore Oil Platforms

    This case study of two offshore oil platforms illustrates how an organizational initiative designed to enhance safety and effectiveness created a culture that unintentionally released men from societal imperatives for "manly" behavior, prompting them to let go of masculine-image concerns and to behave instead in counter-stereotypical ways. Rather than proving how tough, proficient, and cool-headed they were, as was typical of men in other dangerous workplaces, platform workers readily acknowledged their physical limitations, publicly admitted their mistakes, and openly attended to their own and others' feelings. More importantly, platform workers did not replace a conventional image of masculinity with an unconventional one and then set out to prove the new image-revealing mistakes strategically, for example, or competing in displays of sensitivity. Instead, the goal of proving one's masculine credentials, conventional or otherwise, appeared to no longer hold sway in men's workplace interactions. Building on West and Zimmerman's (1987) now classic articulation of gender as "the product of social doings," we describe this organizationally induced behavior as "undoing" gender. We use this case, together with secondary case data drawn from 10 published field studies of men doing dangerous work, to induce a model of how organizational cultures equip men to "do" and "undo" gender at work.

    Keywords: Safety; Goals and Objectives; Behavior; Organizational Culture; Performance Effectiveness; Gender Characteristics; Emotions;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Debra E. Meyerson. "An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender: The Unlikely Case of Offshore Oil Platforms." Research in Organizational Behavior 30 (2010): 3–34.
  5. Unmasking Manly Men

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Debra Meyerson. "Unmasking Manly Men." HBS Centennial Issue. Harvard Business Review 86, nos. 7/8 (July–August 2008): 20.
  6. A Feminist Analysis of Organizational Research on Sex Differences

    Keywords: Research; Organizations; Theory; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin, and Irene Padavic. "A Feminist Analysis of Organizational Research on Sex Differences." Academy of Management Review 32, no. 4 (October 2007): 1121–1143.
  7. Rethinking Political Correctness

    Keywords: Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., Debra E. Meyerson, and Martin N. Davidson. "Rethinking Political Correctness." Harvard Business Review 84, no. 9 (September 2006).
  8. Feminist Analysis of Micro Research on Gender in Organizations: Suggestions for Advancing the Field

    Keywords: Research; Organizations; Theory; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and Irene Padavic. "Feminist Analysis of Micro Research on Gender in Organizations: Suggestions for Advancing the Field." Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings (August 2005).
  9. A Field Study of Group Diversity, Participation in Diversity Education Programs and Performance

    Keywords: Programs; Groups and Teams; Education; Performance; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "A Field Study of Group Diversity, Participation in Diversity Education Programs and Performance." Journal of Organizational Behavior 25, no. 6 (September 2004).
  10. Women Leaders and Organizational Change

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Leadership; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and Debra E. Meyerson. "Women Leaders and Organizational Change." Organizations. HBS Working Knowledge (December 15, 2003).
  11. The Effects of Diversity on Business Performance: Report of the Diversity Research Network

    Keywords: Networks; Research; Performance; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Kochan, T., K. Bezrukova, R. Ely, S. Jackson, A. Joshi, K Jehn, J. Leonard, D. Levine, and D. Thomas. "The Effects of Diversity on Business Performance: Report of the Diversity Research Network." Human Resource Management 42, no. 1 (spring 2003): 3–21.
  12. Cultural Diversity at Work: The Moderating Effects of Work Group Perspectives on Diversity

    Keywords: Perspective; Groups and Teams; Jobs and Positions; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J., and D. A. Thomas. "Cultural Diversity at Work: The Moderating Effects of Work Group Perspectives on Diversity." Administrative Science Quarterly 46 (June 2001): 229–273. (Winner of Administrative Science Quarterly Award for Scholarly Contribution Given annually for the most significant paper in the field of organization studies published in ASQ five years earlier.)
  13. Advancing Gender Equity in Organizations: The Challenge and Importance of Maintaining a Gender Narrative

    Keywords: Communication; Organizations; Problems and Challenges; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J., and D. E. Meyerson. "Advancing Gender Equity in Organizations: The Challenge and Importance of Maintaining a Gender Narrative." Organization 7, no. 4 (2000): 589–608.
  14. Theories of Gender: A New Approach to Organizational Analysis and Change

    Keywords: Organizations; Theory; Gender Characteristics; Change;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J., and D. E. Meyerson. "Theories of Gender: A New Approach to Organizational Analysis and Change." Research in Organizational Behavior 22 (2000).
  15. Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity

    Keywords: Management; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Thomas, D. A., and Robin Ely. "Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity." Harvard Business Review 74, no. 5 (September–October 1996): 79–90.
  16. The Power in Demography: Women's Social Constructions of Gender Identity at Work

    Keywords: Demographics; Gender Characteristics; Labor;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "The Power in Demography: Women's Social Constructions of Gender Identity at Work." Academy of Management Journal 38 (1995): 589–634.
  17. The Effects of Organizational Demographics and Social Identity on Relationships among Professional Women

    Keywords: Organizations; Demographics; Identity; Relationships;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "The Effects of Organizational Demographics and Social Identity on Relationships among Professional Women." Administrative Science Quarterly 39, no. 2 (June 1994): 203–238.
  18. A Battle of Wills: Self-verification versus Behavioral Confirmation

    Keywords: Behavior;

    Citation:

    Swann, W. B., and R. J. Ely. "A Battle of Wills: Self-verification versus Behavioral Confirmation." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 46, no. 6 (1984): 1287–1302.

Book Chapters

  1. Seeing and Being Seen Across Differences in Race and Gender

    Keywords: Perception; Race Characteristics; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Seeing and Being Seen Across Differences in Race and Gender." In Research Alive: Exploring Generative Moments in Doing Qualitative Research. Vol. 27, edited by Arne Carlsen and Jane E. Dutton. Advances in Organization Studies. Copenhagen Business School Press, 2011.
  2. Women and Leadership: Defining the Challenges

    We use the experience of Carly Fiorina as an introduction to the continued challenges faced by women in top leadership roles. Although Fiorina, on becoming CEO of Hewlett Packard in 1999, asserted that "there is not a glass ceiling," her memoir eight years later acknowledged many encounters with sexist comments and attitudes. We suggest that all female leaders must deal with ambivalent reactions rooted in gender stereotypes. Generally, the assertive, dominant behavior typical among leaders tends to be viewed as atypical and unattractive in women. Studies of attitudes toward women in traditionally male roles show that they effectively trade perceptions of competence for likeability-the more successful they appear, the less positively they are regarded. Such trends affect both organizational openness to female leaders and the conceptions women have about themselves as leaders.

    Keywords: Prejudice and Bias; Leadership; Perception; Behavior; Attitudes; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Deborah L. Rhode. "Women and Leadership: Defining the Challenges." Chap. 14 in Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana. Harvard Business Press, 2010.
  3. Shifting Frames in Team-Diversity Research: From Difference to Relationships

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Research; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and L. Morgan Roberts. "Shifting Frames in Team-Diversity Research: From Difference to Relationships." In Diversity at Work, edited by Arthur P. Brief. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  4. Disrupting Gender, Revising Leadership

    In this chapter, we present a case study of men on two off-shore oil platforms—a workplace that has traditionally rewarded men for their masculine displays of bravado and their interactions centered on proving masculinity—in which such displays and interactions were notably absent. Although the company did not set out to change the traditional gendered patterns of roles, relations, and leadership, its self-conscious focus on increasing safety and effectiveness—which compelled workers to adopt a set of work practices that supported deep and ongoing learning—had the secondary consequence of disrupting and revising the hyper-masculine codes of behavior that were normal within the oil industry. We use this case to develop theory about how the operational and cultural conditions of an organization can disrupt conventional masculine interaction patterns and identity-construction processes by decoupling images of leadership/competence from idealized images of masculinity. We conclude that an organization's commitment to a set of work practices that are rooted in the real requirements of its work, rather than in stereotypical images of masculinity, may foster more effective leadership and may open leadership roles to women and to men who do not conform to stereotypical images of masculinity.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Safety; Leadership; Interpersonal Communication; Practice; Gender Characteristics; Business Processes; Energy Industry;

    Citation:

    Meyerson, D. E., R. Ely, and Laura Wernick. "Disrupting Gender, Revising Leadership." In Women and Leadership: The State of Play and Strategies for Change, edited by D. Rhode and B. Kellerman. Warren Bennis book. Jossey-Bass, 2007.
  5. Using Difference to Make a Difference

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Power and Influence;

    Citation:

    Meyerson, D., and R. Ely. "Using Difference to Make a Difference." In The Difference "Difference" Makes: Women and Leadership, edited by Deborah Rhode. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.
  6. Women in Leadership

    Keywords: Leadership; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "Women in Leadership." In The Blackwell Encyclopedic Dictionary of Business Ethics, edited by R. Edward Freeman and Patricia H. Werhane. Blackwell Publishers, 1997.
  7. The Social Construction of Relationships among Professional Women at Work

    Keywords: Management; Relationships; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "The Social Construction of Relationships among Professional Women at Work." In Women in Management: Current Research Issues, edited by R. Burke and M. Davidson. London: Paul Chapman Publishing, 1996.
  8. The Role of Dominant Identity and Experience in Organizational Work on Diversity

    Keywords: Working Conditions; Identity; Experience and Expertise; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "The Role of Dominant Identity and Experience in Organizational Work on Diversity." In Diversity in Work Teams: Research Paradigms for a Changing Workplace, edited by Susan E. Jackson and Marian N. Ruderman, 161–186. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1995.
  9. Attitudes Toward Women and the Experience of Leadership

    Keywords: Leadership; Attitudes; Gender Characteristics; Experience and Expertise;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "Attitudes Toward Women and the Experience of Leadership." In Women's Careers: Pathways and Pitfalls, edited by L. Larwood and S. Rose. New York: Praeger, 1989.

Working Papers

  1. The Work-Family Narrative as a Social Defense

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and Irene Padavic. "The Work-Family Narrative as a Social Defense." Working Paper, March 2013.
  2. Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Debra E. Meyerson. "Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 07-054, February 2007.
  3. A Feminist Analysis of Micro Research on Gender in Organizations: Suggestions for Advancing the Field

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Irene Padavic. "A Feminist Analysis of Micro Research on Gender in Organizations: Suggestions for Advancing the Field." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 05-040, January 2005.
  4. Team Learning and the Radical Diversity-Performance Link

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and David A. Thomas. "Team Learning and the Radical Diversity-Performance Link." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 05-026, October 2004.
  5. A Field Study of Group Diversity, Participation in Diversity Education Programs, and Performance

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J. "A Field Study of Group Diversity, Participation in Diversity Education Programs, and Performance." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 04-049, March 2004.
  6. Learning from Diversity: The Effects of Learning on Performance in Racially Diverse Teams

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and David A. Thomas. "Learning from Diversity: The Effects of Learning on Performance in Racially Diverse Teams." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 04-017, October 2003.
  7. Cultural Diversity at Work: The Moderating Effects of Work Group Perspectives on Diversity

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J., and D. A. Thomas. "Cultural Diversity at Work: The Moderating Effects of Work Group Perspectives on Diversity." Center for Gender in Organizations Working Paper, No. 10, January 2000.
  8. Feminist Critiques of Research on Gender in Organizations

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "Feminist Critiques of Research on Gender in Organizations." Center for Gender in Organizations Working Paper, No. 6, January 1999.
  9. Paradigms and Pitfalls: Constructions of How Demography Affects Work

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and David A. Thomas. "Paradigms and Pitfalls: Constructions of How Demography Affects Work." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 98-094, April 1998.

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Zappos.com 2009: Clothing, Customer Service, and Company Culture (MM)

    On July 17, 2009, Zappos.com, a privately-held online retailer of shoes, clothing, and other soft-line retail categories, learned that Amazon.com, a $19 billion multinational online retailer, had won its Board of Directors' approval to offer to merge the two companies. Amazon had been courting Zappos since 2005, hoping a merger would enable Amazon to expand and strengthen its market share in soft-line retail categories. While Amazon's interest intrigued Zappos' senior executives, they had not felt the time was right—until now. Amazon's offer—10 million shares of stock (valued at $807 million), $40 million in cash, restricted stock units for Zappos' employees, and a promise that Zappos could operate as an independent subsidiary—was on the table. Zappos' financial advisor, Morgan Stanley, estimated the future equity value of an IPO to be between $650 million and $905 million; this estimate skewed the Amazon offer—at least in financial terms—toward the high end of Zappos' estimated market value. Hsieh and Lin, Zappos' CEO and COO, respectively, knew that much of Zappos' growth, and hence its value, had been due to the company's strong culture and obsessive emphasis on customer service. In 2009, they were focusing on the three C's—clothing, customer service, and company culture—the keys to the company's continued growth. Hsieh and Lin had only a few days to consider whether to recommend the merger to Zappos' board at their July 21 meeting.

    Keywords: Customer Relationship Management; Online Technology; Mergers and Acquisitions; Organizational Culture; Growth and Development Strategy; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Frei, Frances X., and Robin J. Ely. "Zappos.com 2009: Clothing, Customer Service, and Company Culture (MM)." Harvard Business School Video Case 612-701, January 2013.
  2. Zappos.com 2009: Clothing, Customer Service, and Company Culture

    On July 17, 2009, Zappos.com, a privately held online retailer of shoes, clothing, and other soft line retail categories, learned that Amazon.com, a $19 billion multinational online retailer, had won its board of directors' approval to offer to merge the two companies. Amazon had been courting Zappos since 2005, hoping a merger would enable Amazon to expand and strengthen its market share in soft line retail categories. While Amazon's interest intrigued Zappos' senior executives, they had not felt the time was right, until now. Amazon's offer—10 million shares of stock (valued at $807 million), $40 million in cash and restricted stock units for Zappos' employees, and a promise that Zappos could operate as an independent subsidiary—was on the table. Zappos' financial advisor, Morgan Stanley, estimated the future equity value of an IPO to be between $650 million and $905 million; this estimate skewed the Amazon offer—at least in financial terms—toward the high end of Zappos' estimated market value. Hsieh and Lin, Zappos' CEO and COO respectively, knew that much of Zappos' growth, and hence its value, had been due to the company's strong culture and obsessive emphasis on customer service. In 2009, they were focusing on the three C's—clothing, customer service, and company culture—the keys to the company's continued growth. Hsieh and Lin had only a few days to consider whether to recommend the merger to Zappos' board at their July 21st meeting.

    Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Customer Focus and Relationships; Decision Choices and Conditions; Governing and Advisory Boards; Service Delivery; Organizational Culture; Online Technology; Valuation; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Retail Industry;

    Citation:

    Frei, Frances X., Robin J. Ely, and Laura Winig. "Zappos.com 2009: Clothing, Customer Service, and Company Culture." Harvard Business School Case 610-015, October 2009. (Revised June 2011.)
  3. Leading Culturally Diverse Teams

    Describes the Leading Culturally Diverse Teams module (eight class sessions), which teaches students the leadership perspectives and skills necessary to develop high-functioning, culturally diverse teams (teams diverse in, for example, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, nationality). The module explores the forces within society and individuals that hinder the effective functioning of culturally diverse teams, and it examines how team leaders can foster conditions that make cultural diversity an asset rather than a liability. The material can be taught in various configurations, depending on the desired depth.

    Keywords: Competency and Skills; Diversity Characteristics; Leadership; Groups and Teams; Perspective; Culture;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J. "Leading Culturally Diverse Teams." Harvard Business School Module Note 406-097, May 2006.
  4. Managing Diversity at Spencer Owens & Co.

    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 Characteristics; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Consulting Industry;

    Citation:

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

    Cityside Financial Services, a disguised consumer bank, serves both a largely African-American urban community and a more affluent, predominantly white clientele. To match the gender and racial makeup of its staff to that of its customers, Cityside's sales division implemented an aggressive affirmative action hiring program. The program succeeded in raising the numbers of women to 50% of all employees and of African-Americans to 53% of middle managers and 25% of executives. Cityside operated a profitable business with high customer satisfaction rates that were widely perceived as a successful model of the "business case for diversity." Therefore, the bank's leadership was mystified to discover growing resentment and demoralization among its African-American employees.

    Keywords: Selection and Staffing; Situation or Environment; Race Characteristics; Employees; Gender Characteristics; Customer Satisfaction; Diversity Characteristics; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Banks and Banking; Banking Industry;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Ingrid Vargas. "Managing Diversity at Cityside Financial Services." Harvard Business School Case 405-047, December 2004. (Revised April 2006.)
  6. Managing a Public Image: Kevin Knight

    Kevin Knight recounts an uncomfortable situation he faced as an African-American student at Harvard Business School. Concerned with maintaining an image as a calm and rational person, he is appalled when he finds himself in a heated classroom exchange in defense of an African-American case protagonist. Knight questions whether his fears about ethnic stereotypes had prevented him from learning important leadership skills. Knight reflects on his image concerns, questioning whether they have undermined his ability to lead effectively.

    Keywords: Leadership; Ethnicity Characteristics; Identity; Competency and Skills; Business Education;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Ingrid Vargas. "Managing a Public Image: Kevin Knight." Harvard Business School Case 405-053, December 2004. (Revised April 2006.)
  7. Managing Diversity at Spencer Owens & Co. and Managing Diversity at Cityside Financial Services (TN)

    Teaching Note to (9-405-047) and (9-405-048).

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J. "Managing Diversity at Spencer Owens & Co. and Managing Diversity at Cityside Financial Services (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 405-055, December 2004. (Revised April 2006.)
  8. Managing a Public Image: Rob Thomas

    Rob Thomas describes some of the challenges he has faced as a white, middle-aged man who is managing director of a mid-size consulting firm where he is committed to increasing staff gender and racial diversity. Unwilling to risk the disapproval of any constituency, Thomas was initially paralyzed by his desire to appear as a fair and infallible leader. When a capable but undistinguished female consultant comes up for partner, Thomas decides to take a stand, but his efforts to get her promoted fail. In the end, Thomas questions whether he has been an effective leader in support of a cause about which he cares deeply. Thomas reflects on his image concerns, questioning whether they have undermined his ability to exercise leadership effectively.

    Keywords: Leadership; Age; Race Characteristics; Identity; Failure; Gender Characteristics; Consulting Industry;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Ingrid Vargas. "Managing a Public Image: Rob Thomas." Harvard Business School Case 405-054, December 2004. (Revised April 2006.)
  9. Managing a Public Image (TN)

    Keywords: Public Relations Industry;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J. "Managing a Public Image (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 406-099, April 2006.
  10. Managing a Public Image: Cheri Mack

    Cheri Mack, an African-American woman, has just arrived at Harvard Business School after working for three years at a major consulting firm where she learned to adopt the demeanor of her male colleagues in order to fit in. Some of her male classmates are critical of her masculine, aggressive style in the classroom. As she begins to plan for a new career in health care, their criticisms cause her to wonder whether having shed much of her femininity will compromise her effectiveness as a leader.

    Keywords: Management Style; Race Characteristics; Reputation; Personal Development and Career; Leadership Style; Gender Characteristics; Massachusetts;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Ingrid Vargas. "Managing a Public Image: Cheri Mack." Harvard Business School Case 406-096, April 2006.
  11. Stephen Brown at John Hancock Financial Services (TN)

    Keywords: Financial Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J. "Stephen Brown at John Hancock Financial Services (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 406-100, April 2006.
  12. Carol Fishman Cohen: Professional Career Reentry (A)

    Explores the career challenges facing highly successful women who leave the full-time workforce for several years to manage family commitments. Carol Cohen is a 1985 Harvard MBA who has professional line experience in a manufacturing environment, followed by a successful transition into investment banking. Details Cohen's decision to return to a professional career after almost 11 years out of the full-time workforce. Describes her decision-making process, including discussions with her husband about shared parenting responsibilities, and provides details of her professional networking, resume development, and interview preparation. Concludes with a job offer to Cohen from Sankaty Advisors, a Bain Capital Partners company. Discussion centers on the decision to return to work, the strategic plan and specific steps, and concludes with questions about setting expectations--both at home and at work--and negotiating terms.

    Keywords: Work-Life Balance; Family and Family Relationships;

    Citation:

    Hart, Myra M., Robin J. Ely, and Susan Wojewoda. "Carol Fishman Cohen: Professional Career Reentry (A)." Harvard Business School Case 803-185, May 2003. (Revised March 2006.)
  13. Carol Fishman Cohen: Professional Career Reentry (B)

    Supplements the (A) case.

    Keywords: Work-Life Balance; Family and Family Relationships;

    Citation:

    Hart, Myra M., Robin J. Ely, and Susan Wojewoda. "Carol Fishman Cohen: Professional Career Reentry (B)." Harvard Business School Case 803-186, May 2003. (Revised March 2006.)
  14. Managing a Public Image: Sophie Chen

    Sophie Chen, an Asian-American MBA student at Harvard Business School, describes a professional situation in which she was unable to mentor a junior person effectively because she disapproved of the way her Asian-American mentee conformed to an ethnic stereotype. Feeling the need to distance herself from the stereotype, Chen concluded that there was little she could do to help her mentee. By the end of her narrative, Chen questions whether she could have been a more effective mentor. She reflects on her image concerns, questioning whether they have undermined her ability to exercise leadership effectively.

    Keywords: Leadership; Perception; Relationships; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J., and Ingrid Vargas. "Managing a Public Image: Sophie Chen." Harvard Business School Case 405-052, December 2004. (Revised August 2005.)
  15. Orientation to the Public Image Assessment Exercise

    The Public Image Assessment exercise acquaints students with the ideal images they hold of themselves, the actions they engage in to convey these images, and the benefits and costs of these behaviors to themselves and to others. Social psychologists call this process impression management. Although managing others' impressions of us is a natural part of life--and there are good, pragmatic reasons for being concerned with the images we present to others--problems arise when people are driven by concerns about others' assessments of them. When the goal of validating one's image becomes more important than others, the task, or a group's mission, it becomes difficult to learn, take risks, and experiment.

    Keywords: Reputation; Perception;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J. "Orientation to the Public Image Assessment Exercise." Harvard Business School Exercise 405-057, December 2004. (Revised August 2005.)
  16. Stephen Brown at John Hancock Financial Services

    Describes a major organizational transformation process at John Hancock Financial Services in which CEO Stephen Brown takes a series of measured steps to turn the old-line mutual insurance company into a competitive, performance-oriented financial services firm. At the end of the case, Brown is considering whether to take the company public. Raises question of leadership, alignment, and culture change.

    Keywords: Change Management; Leadership; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Culture; Alignment; Competitive Strategy; Financial Services Industry;

    Citation:

    Ely, Robin J. "Stephen Brown at John Hancock Financial Services." Harvard Business School Case 402-048, April 2002. (Revised September 2003.)

Presentations

  1. An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender: Lessons From Men in a Macho Occupation

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender: Lessons From Men in a Macho Occupation." 7th Gender, Work, and Organization: Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference, Keele, Staffordshire, United Kingdom, June 27–29, 2012.
  2. Diversity Management Innovation: Leveraging Cultural Diversity for Better Outcomes

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Diversity Management Innovation: Leveraging Cultural Diversity for Better Outcomes." 6th National Health Service Employers Equality & Diversity & Human Rights Conference, National Health Service (Great Britain), London, England, January 18, 2011.
  3. An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "An Organizational Approach to Undoing Gender." Northwestern University Center on the Science of Diversity, Evanston, IL, April 2009.
  4. Women and Leadership: Defining the Challenges

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Leadership;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Women and Leadership: Defining the Challenges." INSEAD-Wharton Research Conference on Leadership, INSEAD-Wharton Center for Global Research and Education, Fontainebleau, France, June 19–21, 2008. (Invited Address.)
  5. Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Identity;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity." Yale School of Management Organizational Behavior Summer Camp, Yale University, New Haven, CT, June 01, 2008. (Invited address.)
  6. Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Identity;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity." Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, May 24–25, 2008. (Invited Address.)
  7. Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Identity;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity." A.K. Rice Institute Symposium , A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Social Systems, Chicago, IL, May 2–3, 2008. (Keynote Address.)
  8. Future Work on Diversity and Equal Opportunities: Experiences from the U.S.

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Opportunities; United States;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Future Work on Diversity and Equal Opportunities: Experiences from the U.S." Conference on Diversity and Equal Opportunities, Copenhagen, Denmark, October 18–19, 2007. (Keynote Address.)
  9. Racial Diversity and Team Learning Environment: Effects on Team Performance

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Diversity Characteristics; Learning; Performance;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Racial Diversity and Team Learning Environment: Effects on Team Performance." Erasmus University Faculty Symposium, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, October 1, 2007. (Invited Paper.)
  10. Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Masculine Identity

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Identity;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and D. E. Meyerson. "Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Masculine Identity." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, August 01, 2007.
  11. Cross-cultural Teamwork in Organizations

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Organizations; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Cross-cultural Teamwork in Organizations." National Work and Family Roundtable Meeting, Boston College Center for Work and Family, Boston, MA, November 01, 2006. (Keynote Address.)
  12. Beyond Political Correctness

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Beyond Political Correctness." Distinguished Scholar Talk, Simmons School of Management, Center for Gender in Organizations, Boston, MA, November 1, 2006. (Distinguished Speaker.)
  13. Shifting Paradigms in Diversity Research: From Difference to a Relational Framing

    Keywords: Research; Diversity Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Shifting Paradigms in Diversity Research: From Difference to a Relational Framing." Cultural Diversity in Europe: a Series of Conferences, European Union, Leuven, Belgium, October 01, 2006. (Keynote Address.)
  14. Unmasking Manly Men: How Organizations Can Redefine the Boundaries of Masculine Identity

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Identity;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Unmasking Manly Men: How Organizations Can Redefine the Boundaries of Masculine Identity." Paper presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, August 01, 2006. (Invited Panelist.)
  15. Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Masculine Identity

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Identity;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and D. Meyerson. "Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Masculine Identity." Paper presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, August 01, 2006.
  16. Feminist Analysis of Micro Research on Gender in Organizations: Suggestions for Advancing the Field

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Research;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and Irene Padavic. "Feminist Analysis of Micro Research on Gender in Organizations: Suggestions for Advancing the Field." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Honolulu, HI, August 04–10, 2005.
  17. Team Learning and the Racial Diversity-Performance Link

    Keywords: Learning; Groups and Teams; Ethnicity Characteristics; Performance;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and David A. Thomas. "Team Learning and the Racial Diversity-Performance Link." In The Academy of Management. Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, August 08, 2004.
  18. The Future of Diversity Research: Applying Ourselves to New Challenges for the 21st Century

    Keywords: Diversity Characteristics; Research;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "The Future of Diversity Research: Applying Ourselves to New Challenges for the 21st Century." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, August 11–16, 2003.
  19. Beyond Armchair Feminism III: Moving From Gender to a Broader Diversity Lens in Organizational Diagnosis and Intervention

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Diversity Characteristics; Organizational Culture; Organizations;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and Debra E. Meyerson. "Beyond Armchair Feminism III: Moving From Gender to a Broader Diversity Lens in Organizational Diagnosis and Intervention." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, January 01, 1999.
  20. Beyond Armchair Feminism II: The Challenges of Holding onto Gender in Organizational Intervention

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Organizational Culture;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and Debra E. Meyerson. "Beyond Armchair Feminism II: The Challenges of Holding onto Gender in Organizational Intervention." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Boston, August 01, 1997.
  21. Beyond Armchair Feminism: EnGendering Organizational Change

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizational Culture; Organizational Change and Adaptation;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and Debra E. Meyerson. "Beyond Armchair Feminism: EnGendering Organizational Change." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Boston, August 01, 1997.
  22. Beyond Armchair Feminism: EnGendering Organizational Change

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Organizations; Change;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and D. Meyerson. "Beyond Armchair Feminism: EnGendering Organizational Change." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, August 01, 1996.
  23. Muticulturalism at Work: The Role of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in a Feminist Organization

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Ethnicity Characteristics; Organizations;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Muticulturalism at Work: The Role of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in a Feminist Organization." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, January 01, 1994.
  24. Researcher Identity As a Source of Ambivalence and Insight

    Keywords: Research; Identity;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and E. Yakura. "Researcher Identity As a Source of Ambivalence and Insight." In The Self in Social Inquiry: Race, Gender and Rigor inthe Research Process. Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, August 01, 1992.
  25. Gender Difference: What Difference Does it Make?

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "Gender Difference: What Difference Does it Make?" Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, January 01, 1991. (Winner of Dorothy Harlow Best Paper Award Given annually to the author of the best paper submitted to the Annual Academy of Management Meeting presented by Academy of Management.)
  26. The Role of Men in Relationships among Professional Women

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Partners and Partnerships;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. J. "The Role of Men in Relationships among Professional Women." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, January 01, 1991. (Nominated for Dorothy Harlow Best Paper Award Given annually to the author of the best paper submitted to the Annual Academy of Management Meeting presented by Academy of Management.)
  27. Understanding the Social Relations of Dominance and Oppression: What It Takes to Build Alliances in Organizations

    Keywords: Relationships; Alliances; Organizations;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Understanding the Social Relations of Dominance and Oppression: What It Takes to Build Alliances in Organizations." Paper presented at the Organizational Behavior Teaching Conference, Bellingham, WA, January 01, 1991.
  28. Attitudes Toward Women in Groups with Male and Female Leaders

    Keywords: Gender Characteristics; Leadership; Groups and Teams; Values and Beliefs; Attitudes;

    Citation:

    Ely, R. "Attitudes Toward Women in Groups with Male and Female Leaders." Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, January 01, 1986.
  29. The Cognitive-Affective Cross-Fire in Negative Self-Concept Individuals

    Citation:

    Ely, R., W. B. Swann, and J. Griffin. "The Cognitive-Affective Cross-Fire in Negative Self-Concept Individuals." In Sources of Self-Inference Symposium. Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Anaheim, CA, August 01, 1983.

Other Publications and Materials

  1. Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity: Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management

    Keywords: Identity; Gender Characteristics;

    Citation:

    Ely, R., and Debra E. Meyerson. "Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity: Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management." August 2006.