Planning, Diversity, and Personnel Leadership

  • Lee M. AllenEmail author
Living reference work entry


The three concepts of planning, diversity, and personnel leadership share an imperative nexus: to alleviate suffering and prevent conflict and war. Without intervention, resentment and reaction to intolerable discrimination may lead to global disruption and a serious if not fatal end to modern civilization. Another commonality in these three overlapping focal points is the duty to maintain all of the unexplored resources inherent in the global population. Unknown potentialities of the human genome, yet to be manifested cultural and spiritual arts, and preservation of the material and intellectual tool kits developed to cope with humanity’s myriad of environmental challenges all promise to help achieve undreamed advances in health, wealth, and well-being. The role of global leadership in this effort is to plan and implement diversity policies to realize these aspirations.

One of the roots of modern personnel leadership in the public administration discipline is government planning to meet future challenges and problems. Historically, examples can be found as early as Pharaonic Egypt, when grain was stored in warehouses for possible years of food shortage and famine. Administrative leaders had to be found to oversee this important project. That is why the pharaoh recognized that the dreams of Joseph of the coat of many colors indicated he could safely be put in charge of the Egyptian granaries (Judges 7:5, NIV). Similarly, another problem has consistently generated governmental planning and policy making: violent unrest between racial and ethnic divisions among the general population. Too often rank discrimination by majorities against minorities leads to cries of injustice and breeds cycles of protests and violence, often leading to a downward spiral that destabilizes larger communities. The need for local law enforcement leaders was an ongoing concern. Today, the millions of people living in multicultural civil societies rely upon cooperation among many different groups to establish substantial economic and social benefits, which are generally unavailable to the members of smaller clans and tribal groups.

Early in the twentieth century, public managers were academically trained in the basic principles of management, popularly using the acronym POSDCORB, standing for the tasks of planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, recording, and budgeting. The staffing and coordinating functions were the essence of personnel management and leadership. Little attention was made to the kinds of diversity issues that concern personnel leaders today. However, the old acronym is still useful, providing we add equity into the string of letters, to get POSDCORBE. This captures the twenty-first century’s emphasis on discrimination and diversity policies. Later the personnel management function was centralized, and its activities were captured in the acronym “PADS” for planning, acquisition, development, and sanctions. New recruits were immediately classified according to their acquired academic knowledge levels, their acquired operational and managerial skills, and their innate abilities and potentials; the acronym KSA became a popular parlance in the field. Modern personnel leaders must include sensitivity to equity and diversity issues in their KSAs and plan for advances in these areas. The ideal now is having a human resource management (HRM) office, directed by an administrator who is a member and a leader within the upper levels of agency management. The chief personal officer (CPO) ideal directs specialists who in addition to their traditional and planning duties promote diversity ideals across the agency’s structural organization and mission-oriented operations.

These specialists must be sensitive to the consequences of racial, social, and economic discrimination. There must be keen realization of how general shortages of resources and responses to threats stemming from the disparate distribution of them, especially, food and shelter, can frustrate the achievement of their particular missions. Too often discrimination against the angry “have-nots” concentrated in ghettos and refugee camps spills out into the larger society. To forestall these problems, responsive commonwealths will attempt to enact and implement pro-diversity policies to dampen the unrest before it completely overwhelms the community. Although it has only been in the last century or two, with the spread of global literacy, that a plurality of ordinary people has developed this perspective, theorists and philosophers have considered these problems for centuries. It may not be too harsh to judge that they all failed. In part their efforts may have fallen short because they aimed for the establishment of permanently ideal communities, instead of settling for ongoing incremental change, accepting the enduring competitiveness of human nature. Modern capitalism has been shown itself capable of fostering growth and change, but inequities have not been eliminated, and new generations create new cultural values and conflicts. Perhaps efforts to provide justice and equality for all should be continuously rewoven into the social fabric, to sustain progressive synthesis. Many scholars believe the modern administrative state, with its enormous bureaucracy, is becoming the dominant form of government, even though they do not all support it. It remains to be seen whether contemporary reforms such as pro-business or state capitalism, the contracting out of services, functional privatization, or the proliferation of private nonprofit organizations will change that direction or will prove to be little more than cosmetic modifications. For all of them, the general rule in administration of any agency, regardless of its mission or management division, is that its leadership is basically external to the operating staff. In terms of governance, the control must be in the political sector, whether totalitarian or civil libertarian. Conversely, in the modern world, professional leaders are trained to ensure they know their personal responsibility to avoid complicity in discriminatory policies. The line between politics and administration may be permeable on occasion, but leadership theory has its origins in political, religious, and military theory.

Aristotle discussed equality theory in several of his works, including The Politics and the Nicomachean Ethics. Here, some interpreters indicate he used “equal” as akin to “fairness,” indicating that political justice is proportionately based on ones just deserts or merit, and is a matter for citizens, those who are free and equal in their capacity as citizens (Ethics 11, 321–19). Some scholars point to the fact that then just as now, equality is a contested concept with different definitions to different people (Equality, Stanford). Other early Athenian philosophers theorized that all humans were equal because they could reason; unfortunately many of the city’s citizens thought they still needed slaves to do the hard and dirty work in the fields and the silver mines, so the inequalities were not equitably addressed. Later, the Romans extended citizenship and equality under the law to many of those who helped in the process of expanding their civilization. It was granted to foreigners when they opened their gates to Roman armies and to merchants who adhered to Roman law and participated in desired commercial activity. The Romans brought the idea of multiculturalism to a historical high; but they also maintained institutional slavery as a large workforce which would release their commoners and elite classes from manual labor.

A notably important advance toward tolerance and diversity came when monotheistic religion spread the idea that all people belonged to one family, with brotherhood and equality under Divine Will. However, doctrinal schism and war between sects, and perhaps desire to punish those vilified as sinners, dovetailed into global beliefs in forcing slaves to do hard and dangerous work. So even the new religions generally stalled in fulfilling their promises of establishing universal equality and tolerance. Accordingly, it was not until the European Renaissance and the French Enlightenment adopted equality and fraternity ideals, and these could be implemented as the Industrial Revolution developed machinery to replace human slaves, that the inexorable economic paradigm of slavery was finally broken. In the sprawling European factories, and particularly in North America, where the labor shortage was especially acute, the new machines could do unpleasant and dangerous work quicker and cheaper than oppressed populations of forced laborers. Slavery was systemically obsolete at last. Simultaneously, new political theories of capitalism and socialism captured the attention of millions, and the old political systems began to be replaced by constitutional legal systems with guarantees of equal rights for all. Nevertheless, other factors such as political rivalry and short-term economic advantage, and even instinctive primate competition for status and dependents, have supported pocket vestiges of discrimination all over the modern world.

Once diversity becomes an important political goal, the administration and implementation of diversity policies can begin, emphasizing requirements for equalities in more equitable living conditions and educational opportunities. Stronger policies require employment opportunity, not only in the private sector, but in public service as well. This transition is not easy; paths are generally opened up only for a few new participants, typically upwardly mobile individuals with valued skills. Setting criteria for personnel selection in the context of diversity implementation efforts and compromising multiple opposing opinions among evaluators will all impact the effectiveness of these new pro-diversity planning activities. Sometimes the intermediate result is to winnow down the number of successful applicants and beneficiaries. For instance, in one of the earliest known examples of military planning and training in literary and historical records, a leader was advised to take promising military recruits down to water and to separate them by how they drank. According to the most accepted version of the story, those who laid down and dunk their heads or lapped at the water were rejected; those who stayed alert and kept their heads up and cupped their hands to drink were accepted (Judges 7:5, NIV). Thousands of years later, scholars are still debating the planning rationales, techniques, and decisions of that legendary leadership decision, some copiers and revisionists even reversing the selection criteria (Bible Hub Commentaries). Just as any new advance in human resource training will generally spread and be adapted by other authorities, diversity policies are spreading around the postindustrial world.

Studying the complexities of management diversity theory and practice requires attention and understanding of concepts such as genetic expression, statistical distribution of characteristics, ethnocentric cultural myopia, social justice, pluralism, and ideology. Personal bias, group prejudices, and institutional discrimination have separate but interlocking relationships which need to be dealt with comprehensively before effective official diversity policies can be adopted by governmental and administrative authorities. The scope of the problem can hardly be overestimated. Just about every human characteristic can be and is targeted as the basis for some group’s systematic bias and discrimination. Scholars have identified the “big eight” categories of discrimination, the foremost being race, especially in terms of skin color, eye structure, height, and weight (Plummer 2003).

Two other common types of discrimination involve age (bias toward either the young or the old) and gender (almost universal against girls and women). Arguments that gender discrimination is justified by the necessity for division of labor have been weakened by the invention of machines that reduce the importance of body strength, for example, enabling women to be truck drivers and airplane pilots. It is hard for even the most misogynist critics to deny that a female police officer with a gun can be as deadly to criminals as her male coworker. One occupation where gender characteristics still produces headaches for personnel offices is firefighter, where dislodging physical standards based on male stereotypes of size and strength is proving difficult. Human females are the majority of the world’s population and represent the greatest challenge to diversity leadership.

Few readers will be able to ignore the fact that conflict between different creeds and religions is endemic through history. Other discrimination patterns include nationality qua ethnicity, mental and physical disability on the one hand, and on the other hand hostility toward ableism (see anti-elitism, anti-intellectualism). Antipathy based on class, organizational role/job function, and sexual orientation and identification is also well known. Other intolerant behaviors are in the process of emerging as patterns of discrimination to be addressed. These include generational or regional slang, allergies to traditional foods, and lifestyle habits such as smoking and other risk-taking behaviors.

In addition to promoting these singularly important egalitarian concerns, there are many other reasons for enacting diversity policies. Discrimination breeds interpersonal problems and social unrest: abusive superiors produce resentful subordinates who may react with workplace violence. This leads to losses of industrial productivity and economic declines. Traditional ethnic foods and medicines may be redefined as substance abuse violations under parochial and political oppression policies. In some societies eating the meat of cattle, canines, and pigs is valued, but in other societies, the same behaviors are condemned as unsanitary and sinful. Discrimination applies double standards on the wearing of traditional clothing, the justified use of force and violence, mortality beliefs, and other conceptions of morality.

Modern Practices

Today most economically developed nations have developed pro-diversity policies to counter the negative effects of widespread discrimination. In many cases the discrimination is directed against marginal population groups, racial, and ethnic minorities. When general public perception becomes aware that many of these discriminatory patterns have negative impacts on economic development, the stage is set for regulatory reform. In other cases, citizens may realize that prevailing discrimination patterns are obsolete, remaining merely due to lingering traditional and cultural elements. The capture of Peruvian Emperor Atahuallpa at Cajamarca is attributed by Diamond as one of the significance consequences of epidemic diseases transmitted by Europeans to peoples lacking immunity. Pizarro anticipated and exploited the divisions dividing the Incas after a civil war precipitated by those diseases (Diamond 1999). Worse, they may be perpetuated by deliberate attempts by special interest groups to maintain an unfair advantage over the weak and helpless. In these cases, responsive governments may pursue new diversity policies to level the economic playing fields for overall social benefit and improvement of the gross national product. The European Age of Exploration and Colonialization in the new world by Spain, the United Kingdom, and France is a well-known example of old selfish policies that are now being reversed and redressed by reparations and the enactment of pro-diversity policies.

Significantly, modern nations are combining their diversity policy efforts to create international organizations. One of the first of these, sponsored largely by the United Kingdom, was the establishment of the International Olympic Games Committee, to copy and revive the cohesion building of Greek Olympic Games at Delphi. Another, and perhaps just as important, is the United Nations (UN), the current manifestation of attempts to create a functioning world government. One of UN’s most important agencies is UNESCO. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the UN and, appropriately enough because of its dedication to enlightened progressive philosophy, is based in Paris, France, where the enlightenment flowered and helped to trigger the democratic revolutionary era. One of its most important duties involves furthering diversity goals. In the nuclear age, it has become distressingly obvious that perceptions of human oppression, real or overzealous, and violent reactions to them and to other discriminatory policies threaten the welfare, if not the survival, of our entire species.

Historically, inclusive multinational (city-states) efforts to recognize the utility of diversity efforts to maintain peace and cohesion go back to the ancient Greeks and their Olympic Games. The dozens of Greek city-states, some representing large-scale experimentations in ideology such as Athens and Sparta, routinely resorted to war to resolve differences among them. Greek mythology claimed the gods on Mt. Olympus decreed periodic amnesties and truces when athletes from all over the Greek cultural and linguistic sphere, representing every region, island, and city, could come together to renew their bonds of fellowship. The games were intended to promote their common religion and culture and to improve better trade and economic relations among them. It aimed at maintaining and strengthening their common heritage and commonalities of interests.

Fostering athletic competition emphasized shared physical traits and cultural ideals. It conceivably contributed to the peninsula’s ability to resist Persian conquest. Today, the modern revival of the Olympic Games aims at performing the same function for the world’s hundreds of nation-states. The quadrennial athletic competitions show that people representing even isolated tribes, nationalities, and cultures can coexist and benefit from peaceful interaction. Physical characteristics that may play prominently in bias and discrimination are shown to be trivial compared to the common aspirations of all people and the overriding similarities of the basic human anatomy. It is hard to maintain stereotypical beliefs about the inhumanity of traditional enemies when you have lived and broken bread together.

In 1896, cosponsored by the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Greece, athletes from 14 counties met in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens. Similar organizations began to spring up all around the world. In America, shortly after John F. Kennedy (member of a religious minority) was elected president, one of his sisters, Eunice Shriver, became involved in creating the Special Olympics, an organization dedicated to improving treatment for people with mental disease and retardation. Its first events were held on private property, in the backyard of a family home in Maryland. In July 1968, families from Canada and the United States opened the first International Special Olympics at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois (Special Olympics). Today it is a global organization with programs in a 170 countries. Perhaps encouraged by this and other efforts, in 1984, the International Olympic Games Committee met for the first time and formalized the present popular spectacles, alternating between summer and winter games rotated among various host countries in a highly competitive process. The winners expect substantial economic benefits by showcasing their products and skilled technicians to the global economy.

The United Nations has similar origins and ideals. It was also created in times of tribal animosities and war and was designed to promote peace among nations. Since war is a predicable result of reaction to perceived hostilities and prejudices, a major purpose of the United Nations is to encourage peaceful means of resolving disputes. In 2002, soon after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, UNESCO published its definitive statement on the need for a global diversity policy. The Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity was adopted unanimously by all members, representing peoples around the world. The Declaration embodies two major goals: the first aims to preserve cultural diversity as a living, thus a renewable treasure that must not be perceived as being just an unchanging heritage but as a process guaranteeing the survival of humanity. Secondly, the Universal Declaration aims to prevent legal segregation and fundamentalism which, in the name of cultural differences, would sanctify those differences and so counter the message of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration makes it clear each individual must acknowledge not only otherness in all its forms but also the plurality of his or her own identity, within societies that are themselves plural. Only in this way can cultural diversity be preserved as an adaptive process and as a capacity for expression, creation, and innovation. The debate between those countries which would like to defend cultural goods and services “which, as vectors of identity, values, and meaning, must not be treated as mere commodities or consumer goods” and those which would hope to promote cultural rights has thus been surpassed, with the two approaches brought together by the Declaration, which has highlighted the causal link uniting two complementary attitudes. One cannot exist without the other (Matsuura 2017).

Smaller civil rights-oriented organizations have sprung up around the world. For example, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) was created in Japan in 1988. Originated by the Buraku minority, it has grown into an international nonprofit organization based in Japan and Geneva, devoted to eliminating discrimination and racism. IMADR is in a consultative relationship with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The International Movement publishes newsletters concerning the activities of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD). A sample CERD newsletter to interested NPOs solicited information about countries soon to be addressed by the UN Committee (CERD, 09-28-16). These organizational linkages reflect not only the increasingly transparent nature of the World Wide Web but also the networking skills of a new generation of diversity administrators.

Diversity Contradictions

As described above, leadership in diversity issues can be described as a two-pronged and sometimes opposing effort. On the one hand, inclusive diversity leadership seeks to dampen the dysfunctional effects of discrimination that might someday threaten world stability. To a certain extent, this implies integration of all people into a global homogenized unity. On the other hand, another group of diversity leaders want to preserve diversity in all its forms as a living, and thus renewable treasure, by excluding some facets of minority heritage from incorporation and submersion inside the global village. A compromise view suggests that preserving separate ethnic identities need not be perceived as being a set of static and unchanging heritages, but as a dynamic process helping to guarantee the survival of humanity’s mental and spiritual diversity.

On the other hand, many diversity leaders are deeply invested in strengthening identity politics, involved in protecting their groups from assimilation and submersion. Partly in order to pursue this goal, and partly to highlight the uniqueness, worth, and utility of the world’s scattered minority groups, they are banding together in common cause. They may possess a variety of racial physiotypes and an even larger variety of folk costumes, but they can work together to avoid cultural submersion in the emerging global village. In 2015, the first Indigenous Games were held in Brazil, in advance of the Summer Olympic Games scheduled for 2016 in the same country. From the Amazon to the shores of New Zealand, 2,000 competitors converged on the Brazilian Frontier city of Palmas for the first World Indigenous Games. “We’re distant from other cultures of the world, but this gives us a chance to mingle with other indigenous people from all over the place, said one athlete” (Darlington 2015).

Leadership Commonalities

While there is a plethora of leadership types described in the academic literature and trade magazines, three basic personality types can be articulated as they affect diversity activities. They are conservative status quo and pattern-maintaining types, transformational leaders, and pragmatic contingency operators. The status quo types of leaders tend to be traditional democratic or laissez-faire leaders, resistant to sudden change, with a tendency to use rational and legalistic methodologies. Transformational types tend to have charismatic and authoritarian personalities and are oriented to leadership primacy. The third group can be described as contingency oriented, recognizing the inevitability of changes, assessing situations before they act, and possessing high levels of adaptability. Whichever type of leadership dominates any particular organization, the best practice motto for any supervisor is likely to be: mission first, people always.

Socialization and educational practices tend to mold leaders into the status quo leadership styles appropriate to the dominant culture. Mainstream diversity leaders, geared to assimilating minorities and dissonant perspectives into the larger community, generally desire to maintain the structure and operations of the larger group. They often practice the political philosophy of Edmund Burke, reconciling representing their constituents while retaining their own judgment and a belief in the wisdom of prior generations. Interestingly, these types of leaders can be found in both the larger dominant culture and in the smaller minority communities. This commonality of style and methodology can be seen in both the Olympic and Indigenous athletic games and bodes well for continued cooperation between the two groups.

Transformational leaders are psychologically distinct and divided into two distinct categories: one oriented to individual leadership primacy, guiding their followers forward toward their visionary goals. They are energetic entrepreneurs, champions of their cause, and broad-based social innovators. The other type of transformational leader is similarly self-oriented and pushes for change but focuses on small-scale iterative development. These leaders itemize problem-solving and desire evolutionary changes in an organization’s significant facts and routines but are also interested in “stabilizing the container” while transforming the contents (Ecology 2016).

Contingency-oriented leaders are more pragmatic, reconciled to the inevitability of change, assess situations before they act, and are highly adaptable in adjusting to the new environments they find themselves in. They listen to and trust the advice of their subordinates. Contingency leadership is suited to exploring the environment and expecting change to occur. It keeps the mission in mind, but is not committed to habitual maintenance of traditional structures, and tends to listen to and trust subordinates. It has a pragmatic action orientation. One good operational diversity textbook is D. L. Plummer’s (2003) Handbook of Diversity Management: Beyond Awareness to Competency Based Learning. This business-oriented text focuses on how management consultants can build a good diversity policy on a marketing strategy, return on investment (ROI), to broaden its customer base and increase its bottom line. It also has good articles on building and maintaining diversity awareness within an organization. All of these are useful in a public agency context.

In training and development classes, these topics should be supplemented by material on public policies such as equality theory, affirmative action, and equal employment opportunity. It is important to avoid the highly partisan tone of many diversity courses, where some countries may be portrayed as particularly vicious examples of discriminatory behaviors. Both the United States and Russia, for example, have such reputations in some quarters; but both experienced terrible civil wars to establish more tolerant societies. An overview of diversity from a global perspective is not only the best objective approach, but the most accurate. Of course, it may be useful to describe some of the rationales behind some fundamentally unjust discriminatory policies, in order to better confront and overturn them. First on the list are those policies which inadvertently or intentionally are designed to result in genocide.

The Story of Ishi is instructive in that regard. In California in the summer of 1911, a starving Native American walked out of the coastal mountains and became an instant journalistic and anthropological sensation. Ishi thought he was the last member of his race, and investigation indicated that he was indeed the last living member of a remnant band of an Indian tribe known as the Yahi people. He was starving because he had been deprived of support and companionship when his older remaining close family had all died, hastened at least in part because a group of hikers had stumbled on his camp and carted off or destroyed many of the tools necessary for Indians’ survival (Rockafellar, 02-15-17). Anthropologists at the time were just beginning to collect ethnic oral histories, and Ishi was a wellspring of information. As their ward at the University of California, he good-naturedly demonstrated many of his skills as a toolmaker and a hunter to hundreds of tourists and students every weekend. He was billed as an example of the noble savage and a true gentleman. He died in 1916 of advanced tuberculosis. Under the auspices of the American Indian Act of 1989, his remains were claimed by the approximately 400 remaining Yahi people, themselves grouped within the 1500 members of Yana people. All over the world, tribes are disappearing, sometimes assimilated bit by bit into the surrounding national population, sometimes vanishing completely. When they go, their histories, tool kits, and biological adaptations vanish with them. Organizations such as the National Geographic Society may sometimes catch glimpses of their unique genetic characteristics, but the rest are gone.


The core essence of emerging global diversity policy is to alleviate and prevent conflict and war generated by resentment and reaction to intolerable discrimination. Discrimination cannot be totally eliminated, because all identifiable populations take pride in their unique histories and achievements and resist attempts to destroy them in overzealous striving for complete assimilation. Conversely, human beings also copy and learn from each other and will join together in coalitions to protect themselves from common dangers. The world’s leaders and their supporters must plan ways to reconcile these countervailing tendencies. Convincing arguments are made that almost as critical to the survival of modern civilization is the duty to maintain all of the unexplored resources inherent in the global population. This includes the unknown potentialities of the human genome, all cultural and spiritual arts, and the complete tool kits different societies have developed to cope with their unique environmental challenges. The role of leadership in this effort is to plan and implement diversity policies to achieve these goals.


  1. Biblehub Commentaries. Discussion found on-line 18 February 2017 at:
  2. CERD (2016). Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, November 28. Subject of a CERD Newsletter Found on-line 22 January 2017 at:
  3. Darlington, Shasta (2015) Indigenous olympics in Brazil: competition meets awareness. Found on-line at:
  4. Diamond J (1999) Guns, germs and steel. W.W. Norton, New York. 0-393-31755-2Google Scholar
  5. Ecology and Society (2016) “Agency and Leadership in Complex Systems” found in E&S Home. Vol. 18, No. 3 Art. 27Google Scholar
  6. Equality, Greek Theory (2001) Equality. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Article found on-line 21 February 2017 at:
  7. Judges 7-5 (1978) Holy Bible: new international version, Biblica, July 5. Article found on-line 18 February 2017 at:
  8. Matsuura, Kouichiro (2017) Cultural diversity: a vision. “The cultural wealth of the world is its diversity in dialogue”. Director Matsuura is the Director-General Of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Found on-line 14 December 2017 at:
  9. Ethics. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Found on-line 20 January 2017 at:
  10. Plummer DL (2003) Handbook of diversity management: beyond awareness to competency based learning. Oxford: University Press of AmericaGoogle Scholar
  11. Rockafellar, Nancy. The story of Ishi – a history of UCSF. Special topics collection, San Francisco, California, University of California, San Francisco. Found on-line 15 February 2017 at:
  12. Special Olympics. Articles found on-line 29 December 2017 at and at:

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceValdosta State UniversityValdostaUSA