Diversity in the Workplace: Literature Review and Best Practices

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Diversity is when there are different races or ethnicities represented. The environment we live in right now is full of diversity. Did you know that according to Statistics Canada, immigrants and second-generation individuals could represent nearly half the population in 2036 (Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036, 2017)? No matter where we go, whether it is at work or school, we will see people from different backgrounds.

Let us talk about diversity in the workplace. Workplace diversity is the aggregate of employees with different ethnicity, gender, religion, geographic location, education, and political beliefs. Have you worked with people with different background, skills, knowledge, thinking, creativity, and experience? Learning about diversity helps us understand different perspectives within the world in which we live. It helps to prevent negative stereotypes and personal biases about different groups.

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The main purpose of the research paper is to provide the organization with an understanding of diversity in the workplace and how it will benefit and implement the organization.

Article #1

  • Title: Workplace diversity: developing a win-win-win strategy
  • Author: (Marques, 2008)
  • Journal type: Business and Management

This article talks about how global migration is increasing. The internet is enabling communication on a world scale and business leaders are continuously in search for less expensive resources and lower wages to pay. The article describes the right reason and the right way to develop and implement diversity in the organization. What these companies overlook is that diversity can help the firm to increase profit. The article mentioned that customers can feel at ease in a store by recognizing salespeople with the same background or racial group as theirs. When operating on a global scale, some organizations refrain from enabling their employees from various geographical areas to learn from one another. In fact, it should be highly encouraged to learn from one another to expand their knowledge and learn more across geographical locations. The article also mentioned that “when your organization hires people on basis of their qualities while keeping in mind that every organization on the globe should represent the globe itself, it elevates diversity into a win-win strategy”. Hiring the right people and retaining the best talent is important towards the success of an organization, expanding the talent pool through diversity helps with that. Overall, organizations are starting to apply diversity in business strategy and customer approaches to target their ethnic, gender, and age diverse groups.

Article #2 (Peer Reviewed)

  • Title: Linking Workplace Diversity to Organizational Performance: A Conceptual Framework
  • Author: (Leon C. Prieto, 2009)
  • Journal Type: Journal of Diversity Management

Many studies have struggled during the past two decades to improve their understanding of how workforce diversity influences organizations, work teams, and individual employees. They found that organizational diversity can increase conflict between the employees. The findings of the study show that diversity does not always help to increase the profit of firm and produce positive outcomes because diversity does not necessarily improve talent pool. They provide a model to support and provide practitioners and scholars alike with a framework that will allow them to design diversity initiatives based on a need’s assessment and empirical research. For diversity to be successful, there needs to be an assessment that can examine the organization’s diversity climate. There are negative and positive effects of diversity. Racial and gender diversity can have a negative effect on individual and group outcomes due to a lower level of commitment, higher turnover, and absenteeism. Positive effects of diversity include firm performance increases when the senior management group is more diverse. The results of their study show a positive relationship between top management team diversity and revenue growth such that organizations with greater ethnic minority representation in top management tended to experience larger increases in annual revenues because of improved decision-making, problem-solving, innovation, and creativity, which provides firms with a strategic and competitive advantage. Having divergent perspectives can be helpful when the group tries to come up with an idea and solve the problem. The article also mentioned that diverse groups performed better when they held pro-diversity beliefs rather than pro-similarity beliefs.

To conclude, understanding the effect of diversity on the performance should be a priority. Diversity initiatives and training can be a useful tool in developing a workforce that is creative and skilled at problem-solving and focused on achieving the bottom-line, however, there must be some form of analysis to audit the climate of the organization to assess and determine the type of diversity initiative or training that is needed.

Article #3 (Peer Reviewed)

  • Title: Walking the Talk on Diversity: CEO Beliefs, Moral Values, and the Implementation of Workplace Diversity Practices
  • Author: (Ng, 2018)
  • Journal Type: Journal of Business Ethics

The purpose of this article is to investigate the factors that influence the CEOs beliefs, moral values and the implementation of workplace diversity practices in an organization.

HR managers must view their CEOs as being committed to workplace diversity in order for diversity management practices to be implemented. One of the major issues facing organizations is managing an increasingly diverse workforce. Even though research shows that equal employment opportunity/affirmative action (EEO/AA) laws promote organizational diversity practices but relatively only little research has been undertaken to understand the role organizational play in advancing diversity management in organizations. According to Professor David Thomas people at the top are “saying all the right things relative to diversity, but their middle management, who really run the organization and create the experience of people who work there, don’t understand and don’t feel accountable for diversity and inclusion”. In an effort to shed light on how CEOs and managers contribute to workplace diversity management, this study explores the process through which CEO commitment to diversity translates into implementation of diversity management practices. This research integrate issues of diversity into theories of organizational behaviours, and uses and integrated theoretical framework, they drew from the sense-making literature to propose a sequential mediating process of how CEOs signal their beliefs and priorities about diversity management practices in an organization. Given the important role that both CEOs and managers play in contributing to diversity management in organizations, a better understanding of these perceptual mechanisms is needed to strengthen the implementation of workplace diversity practices and enhance career outcomes for woman and minority groups. Overall, authors suggest that for diversity practices to be implemented, CEOs first must make sense of the value of increasing diversity in the workplace and form positive beliefs about workforce diversity. HR managers must similarly interpret the CEO’s words and actions as supporting and prioritizing diversity management. Authors tested and integrative model in which CEO beliefs about diversity were theorized to predict the implementation of organizational diversity practices through two consecutive mediating steps- via greater CEO engagement in pro-diversity behavior, and in turn, higher perceived CEO commitment by their HR manager. The authors also proposed in this model a moderating effect such that when CEOs have fewer positive beliefs about diversity, CEOs support higher moral values will display greater pro-diversity behaviour. Supported results from the proposed model, taken together the findings indicate that a CEO’s words and actions alone are not sufficient for the implementation of diversity management practices. HR managers must view their CEOs as being committed to workplace diversity in order for diversity management practices to be implemented.

Article #4 (Peer Reviewed)

  • Title: Diversity Management in the Canadian Workplace: Towards an Antiracism Approach
  • Author: (Hiranandani, 2012)
  • Journal Type: Urban Studies Research

This article aims to focus on racial and ethnic minorities and their treatment in the workplace in the Canadian context. Canada is known for its multiculturalism and for being a refuge for people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Even though, business literature points to the fact that increasing diversity makes business sense, visible minority employees continue to face discrimination in the Canadian workplace. This article reviews various strands of diversity management in Canada: it is found that the business imperative for diversity and strategies to enhance workforce diversity form the bulk of diversity management literature in the country. While recent years have seen an increase in diversity and cultural competence initiatives, these strategies do not address racism in the workplace, and their impact has been limited in terms of retaining visible minority employees. Following a critique of current diversity management initiatives in the Canadian context, this article examines the strengths and limitations of the emerging antiracism approach that has been tried in several urban locales and is considered more potent to tackle racism in the workplace and in the larger society of which the workplace is a part. ‘Diversity management is a voluntary organizational program designed to create greater inclusion of all individuals into informal social networks and formal company programs.’ A more practice-oriented definition is provided by Bassett-Jones for whom diversity management refers to systematic efforts and planned commitment on the part of organizations to recruit and retain employees with various backgrounds and abilities. The concept of ‘diversity’ refers not only to demographic and cultural differences, but ‘a workforce made distinct by the presence of many religions, cultures or skin colors, both sexes (in non-stereotypical roles), differing sexual orientations, varying styles of behavior, differing capabilities, and usually, unlike backgrounds’. The EEA requires efforts by employers in covered sectors to reduce disparities in employment and workforce representation between designated groups (such as women, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples, and people with disabilities) and the general workforce. While these policies laid the foundations for diversity management, the business sector’s engagement with diversity management revolves around the twin rationale of the ‘business imperative’ and the need to address shortages of skilled labor force. The ‘business imperative’ argument lists several compelling reasons for increasing diversity in Canadian organizations. While these efforts are commendable, programs to hire, retain, and treat diverse employees fairly at the workplace are not widely prevalent in Canada. As the next section elaborates, visible minorities continue to face various forms of employment discrimination even in large multicultural cities.

According to the author visible minorities are significantly less satisfied with their careers than Caucasian Canadians and more likely to experience workplace barriers, lack of fairness in talent management practices, lack of role models, and other key factors influencing career advancement. In 2002, almost one in four visible minority workers reported that they had experienced racial harassment or discrimination in the workplace. In the Ethnic Diversity Survey, Statistics Canada found that 56% of participants who perceived discrimination or unfair treatment identified that they most commonly encountered such treatment in the workplace, particularly during job applications and promotions. Given that workplace discrimination and poor labor market outcomes persist for visible minorities despite diversity programs and initiatives by the Canadian government and several businesses, it is crucial to critically examine the official multiculturalism policy and existing diversity management efforts. organizations are not solely responsible for anti-racism efforts.

The importance of the anti-racism approach for organizational success cannot be overstated. The anti-racism framework takes up the challenge of building healthy, inclusive, and anti discriminatory work environment. However, the anti-racism approach is not without challenges. This article has highlighted the key dilemmas faced by anti-racism practice, and it has briefly suggested several directions to make this approach more suitable to the Canadian situation. Undoubtedly, further research and development in antiracism work in Canada are an urgent priority. Additionally, anti-racism initiatives in the workplace must be supplemented by efforts on a national scale with government officials, educators (including those in business, commerce, and management disciplines) and popular media taking the initiative to debunk the notions of skin color, ethnicity or religious background as markers of inferiority or superiority.

Best Practices:

From our research, we identify the “best practices” that have been described in each article we selected. We learned that diversity is growing, and business leaders are looking for a business strategy and way to derive a benefit through implementing diversity in the workplace, we have identified the following best practices for an organization:

1. Be more inclusive to everyone

Being inclusive to everyone improves employee performance. It encourages employees from all background to feel comfortable with each other. In chapter 3, we learned about stereotyping which means assigning traits to people based on social category membership. The problem with stereotyping is that it overgeneralizes – stereotypes do not accurately describe everyone in a social category and is the foundation for discriminatory attitudes and behaviour. To improve perceptions in effective ways, we must aware of perceptual biases, self-awareness, and having meaningful interaction.

2. Creating a positive relationship with all diverse members

We learned that diversity has a positive impact on performance because of the unique cognitive resources that members bring to the team. Diversity improves performance because people have different ideas and ways of thinking. In chapter 8, it mentions that diversity is an important dimension of team composition; team members should have diverse knowledge, skills, perspectives, values, etc. There are positive and negative effects of diversity on teams. The main advantage of a diverse team is that they view problem/alternatives from different perspectives and a broader knowledge base. The disadvantage is that they take longer to become a high performing team and susceptible to “faultlines”- less motivation to coordinate. In order to resolve several issues, identifying the five stages of development include forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning, members will be able to find out what is expected them and how to fit into the team, become proactive, compete for various team roles, form group objectives and team-based mental model, learn to coordinate, resolve conflicts and disbanding, and shift from task to relationship focus.

3. Establishing a sense of belonging for all employees

For each of the employees to bring the best self forward, a sense of belonging must be first be established. Diversity and inclusion are treated as an initiate owned exclusively by HR. In chapter 12, it describes Transformational Leadership Model has four steps: Firstly, develop/communicate the vision; frame the vision. Secondly, model the vision then enact the vision (“walk the talk”), symbolize and demonstrate the vision through their own behavior, builds employee trust in the leader. Thirdly, encourage experimentation, encourage questioning current practices, encourage discovering/trying out new practices (learning orientation) the fourth is build commitment to the vision; strengthened through communicating and modelling the vision, increased through experimentation, also through rewards, recognition, celebrations

4. Developing an action-oriented strategy for institutional and systematic change for antiracism approach

We learned that Canada is known for its multiculturalism and for being a refuge for people from diverse cultural backgrounds. We cannot deny that everyone is still facing discrimination in the Canadian workplace. These strategies cannot even address the racism in the workplace. In chapter 2, we learned about ethical values, and behaviour which applies that HR managers should educate each and every employee about diversity on the first day of work when they are hired so that it prevents towards an anti racism approach against anyone.


To conclude our research, we determined that diversity has negative and positive effects on an organization. Organizational diversity can increase conflict between the employees, but it can also improve performance because of different people with different background contribute their ideas, new ways of thinking, knowledge, and different experiences. We have found practices to implement and benefit the organization such as by being more inclusive to everyone, creating positive relationships between all the diverse members, establishing a sense of belonging for all employees, and developing an action-oriented strategy for institutional and systematic change for antiracism approach.


  1. Hiranandani, V. (2012). Diversity Management in the Canadian Workplace:. Urban Studies Research, 1-11. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.dproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/docview/1272342127/fulltextPDF/E2D218E4D03D4F41PQ/1?accountid=26375
  2. Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036. (2017, February 23). Retrieved from Symbol of Statistics Canada: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/91-551-x/91-551-x2017001-eng.htm
  3. Leon C. Prieto, S. T. (2009). Linking Workplace Diversity To Organizational Performance: A Conceptual Framework. Journal of Diversity Management, 4, page 13-21. Retrieved from http://fc3yq3bj4d.search.serialssolutions.com/?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&ctx_enc=info%3Aofi%2Fenc%3AUTF-8&rfr_id=info%3Asid%2Fsummon.serialssolutions.com&rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&rft.genre=article&rft.atitle=Linking+Workplace+Diversity
  4. Marques, J. (2008). Workplace Diversity: Developing a Win Win Win Strategy. Development and Learning Organization, 22, 5-8. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.dproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/docview/218815810/fulltextPDF/1CE2B2456E9847A2PQ/1?accountid=26375
  5. Ng, E. S. (2018). Walking the Talk on Diversity: CEO Beliefs, Moral Values, and the Implementation of Workplace Diversity Practices. Journal Of Business Ethics, 1-14. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.dproxy.library.dc-uoit.ca/docview/2130628836/fulltextPDF/DC57229D05274C8DPQ/1?accountid=26375


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