Building consensus on defining success of diversity work in organizations

Research article reporting results of a study funded in part by a Small Grant from the American Psychological Association Division 13, Society for Consulting Psychology


A Delphi method was used to build consensus on what definition constitutes success in terms of diversity initiatives. A panel of experts in organizational diversity selected among internal and external stakeholder groups completed three rounds of web-based data collection. Four key concepts emerged for measuring success: (1) employee perception and (2) organizational climate/culture are essential components to measure success; (3) definitions and measures of success focus on employee lifecycle data related to attracting, developing, and retaining employees) and to employee demographics; and (4) definitions and measures for success are primarily internally focused within the organization rather than on measures external to the organization. Based on these findings, a metric to measure success of diversity work was developed, combining overlapping aspects from the four key concepts into a triangulation of three essential components that target employee life cycle data, perceptions of leaders, and organizational culture. Triangulation of these three components would provide an organizational snapshot or balance sheet that organizational consultants, internal or external to the organization, can use to measure the success of the organization’s diversity efforts. Consulting psychologists can incorporate these findings into their client work to help them to assess the effectiveness of organizational initiatives to build, sustain, and increase diversity and the training and consultation they provide to their clients. Based on a consensus of what constitutes success, diversity researchers can test this definition empirically through creation and validation of a new metric to measure the essential components of success in diversity initiatives. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Heitner, K. L.
Kahn, A. E.
Sherman, K. C.
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Consulting Psychology Journal - Practice and Research
American Psychological Association, Society for Consulting Psychology
Date Published: 
Friday, March 1, 2013
Publication Language: