Organizational Diversity: Actions Matter More Than Words

Topic(s): diversity, fairness
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (2010)
Article: Establishing a diversity program is not enough: Exploring the determinants of diversity climate
Authors: A.O. Herdman, A. McMillan-Capehart
Reviewed by: Benjamin Granger

Despite the growing need to recruit, select, and promote employees from diverse backgrounds, there is much to be learned about how diversity programs affect organizational-level outcomes.


One important organizational-level outcome of a diversity program is an organizational climate that values workplace diversity. According to the authors of this study (Herdman & McMillan-Capehart, 2010), diversity climate refers to employees’ shared perceptions of the degree to which their organization supports workplace diversity. The researchers found that the effectiveness of diversity programs/initiatives, in terms of enhancing diversity climate, depended on the actual racioethnic diversity of the management team and the diversity-related values of management team members.


These findings clearly suggest that in order for organizations to have a real impact on their diversity climate, they must not just talk-the-diversity-talk by establishing a diversity program with policies and procedures, but they must also walk-the-diversity-walk at the highest levels of leadership.

The research results also imply that diversity programs undertaken for the wrong reasons (e.g., to emulate competitors and give the illusion that the organization cares about diversity) likely will not work. On the other hand, organizations that initiate diversity programs and practice what they preach are likely to strengthen their diversity climate and improve other organizational-level outcomes as well.


Herdman, A.O., & McMillan-Capehart (2010). Establishing a diversity program is not enough: Exploring the determinants of diversity climate. Journal of Business and Psychology, 25(1), 39-53.