What is Workplace Diversity?

What is Workplace Diversity?


The scope of workplace diversity is broad. At a basic level, workplace diversity is the rich mix of people in a workplace, reflecting the variety of individual differences that make people unique. How scholars and others describe these individual differences spans various categories and types.



In their study on the promise and reality of diverse teams in organizations, Elizabeth A. Mannix and Margaret A. Neale capture a representative list of categories and types of diversity discussed in academic literature, reflecting a wide variety of differences, including demographic, cultural, cognitive, functional, beliefs, and personalities (see Table 1 of their study). But Mannix and Neale readily acknowledge these categories are not set in stone.

As we come to understand more about diversity, our descriptions of workplace diversity evolve. There's diversity not just across categories, but also within categories, because categories comprise unique individuals: shared identity does not equal shared experiences. And at the individual level, as a person's perspectives, experiences, skills, and identities evolve, the diversity she or he is able to contribute to a workplace continues to evolve.

Essential to building, sustaining, and leveraging the rich mix of differences that creates a diverse workplace is creating an inclusive work environment: a culture of belonging, where organizations value individual differences and connect people across differences in meaningful ways to gain the most value from a diverse workforce.




Mannix, Elizabeth A., & Margaret A. Neale, What Differences Make a Difference? The Promise and Reality of Diverse Teams in Organizations, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Vol. 6, No. 2, Oct. 2005, pp. 31-55.