One of the major ethical challenges in today’s increasingly diverse work environment is the search for sound principles to frame business activities and guide actors, corporations and individuals. While diversity has been a much debated topic in management theory and practice in recent years, it were initially legal aspects, notably the avoidance of lawsuits, as well as changes in the labor market demographics (e.g. increased participation of women and minorities) that made it a subject of paramount importance for corporations. There is growing awareness today, however, that diversity management should go much further than just complying Dr. Nicola Pless is Senior Researcher and Lecturer at the University of St. Gallen as well as Visiting Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD, France. She worked for several years in different international HR and management development functions for global financial services firms as well as the World Bank Group. Her research focuses on organizational theory, leadership/leadership development, diversity management, corporate responsibility. Dr. Thomas Maak is Research Director at the Institute for Business Ethics and Lecturer in Management and Philosophy at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland as well as Visiting Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD, France. He conducts research in the areas of corporate citizenship, integrity management, global business ethics, leadership ethics, moral and political philosophy. Journal of Business Ethics 54: 129–147, 2004.  2004 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. with existing rules or reacting to a shift in labor market resources. Indeed, in management literature it is argued that the challenges within competitive, dynamic, and increasingly global markets (demanding innovation, creativity as well as flexibility) are best met by a broadened pool of experience and knowledge found in an effectively managed diverse workforce (see Cox and Blake, 1991; Milliken and Martins, 1996; Nemeth, 1985; Nemeth and Wachtler, 1983; Shaw and Barrett-Power, 1998; Wright et al., 1995). Obviously, the innovative and creative potential inherent to a diverse workforce (in terms of ethnic origin, nationality, cultural back-ground, religion, gender, age, education, lifestyle, working style, way of thinking, etc.) can be used to bridge cultural boundaries and search for original problem solutions, innovative product ideas and targeted marketing initiatives. This diversity can become a competitive advantage.

Authors Nicola Pless is Senior Researcher and Lecturer at the University of St. Gallen as well as Visiting Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD, France. She worked for several years in different international HR and management development functions for global financial services firms as well as the World Bank Group. Her research focuses on organizational theory, leadership/leadership development, diversity management, corporate responsibility.

Dr. Thomas Maak is Research Director at the Institute for Business Ethics and Lecturer in Management and Philosophy at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland as well as Visiting Senior Research Fellow at INSEAD, France. He conducts research in the areas of corporate citizenship, integrity management, global business ethics, leadership ethics, moral and political philosophy.

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