Walking the “Diversity” Walk > Talking the “Diversity” Talk

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

Despite the growing need to recruit, select, and promote employees from diverse backgrounds, if, when and how diversity programs affect organizational-level outcomes is not well understood. One important organizational-level outcome of a diversity program is an organizational climate that values workplace diversity.  According to Herdman and McMillan-Capehart (2010), diversity climate refers to employees’ shared perceptions of the degree to which their organization supports workplace diversity. Indeed, they 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 (i.e., establish a diversity
program with policies and procedures).

They must also walk-the-“diversity”-walk — at the highest levels of leadership!

Herdman and McMillan-Capehart’s 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. Organizations that initiate diversity programs and “practice what they preach,” on the other hand, are likely to strengthen their diversity climate and may 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, 39-53.