A cross-cultural analysis of the Perceptions of Diversity and Inclusion.

How it influences work engagement.

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Diversity management practices are estimated to be about $8 billion a year in the United States alone, as exposed by Rik Kirkland (2016) Harvard Kennedy School professor of public policy. It is also unquestionable the fact that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is a current reality as we live in a world on a constant process of globalization. As noted by Prasad et al. (2006) “… diversity is a geographically and culturally contingent phenomenon and needs to be understood as such”Based on the on-going studies and contemporary debates, this research aims to understand the perceptions of “diversity and inclusion”, the influence of culture and how it impacts on work engagement as a beneficial organizational outcome.

Currently, part of the difficulty is that “diversity” and “inclusion” are so often lumped together that they are assumed to be the same thing (Sherbin, 2017). For instance, it is important to advocate for a deeper understanding of “diversity” and “inclusion” as separate concepts and moreover to emphasize the interdependence between them.

Moreover, as exposed by Nishii (2013) the shift from diversity management to diversity and inclusion it is supported on the need to reduce the obstacles often linked to diversity, organizations need to proactively create inclusive environments that make possible to achieve the diversity’s potential benefits. This need determines the significance of aligning the understanding and measuring methods in order to promote D&I within organizations across the globe.

Despite progress on increasing the representation of minorities and the importance of diverse groups in organizations, it is the exclusion of these groups from the circles of influence in the organization that keeps them from fully contributing to and benefiting from their involvement in the workplace (Mor Barak, 2015). Today is not enough to develop a diverse team, the challenge lays on being able to function as a united group providing positive outcomes for the businesses.

Engagement as an organizational outcome of D&I

Previous research demonstrated positive relationship between diversity management, inclusion and organizational outcomes that as a result led to greater job satisfaction among employees (Acquavita et al., 2009; Pitts, 2009) increased likelihood to remain in their job (Groeneveld, 2011) and increased engagement in their work (Travis & Mor Barak, 2010 ).

As an attempt to reach a multicultural sample and understand more about the topic
an online survey was conducted on a sample of 300 respondents with 150 respondents based in the United States and 150 respondents based in Spanish Speaking countries in South American.

In order to empirically test a proposed conceptual model, a review of the existing measurements on organizational diversity and inclusion was conducted and the researcher had chosen to utilize diversity and inclusion measurements previously tested.

*Diversity Engagement Survey (DES)- Person et al. (2015)

*Perceived Group Inclusion Scale (PGIS)- Wiebren et al.  (2014)

*Work Engagement Measurement (GWA) – Harter, Schmidt and Hayes (2002)


From the results of the study, empirical support was found for three out of the four hypotheses that were fully supported. 

Hypothesis 1, was not supported by the relationship between effective DM and work engagement demonstrate not to be moderated by culture. 

Hypothesis 2 where the mediation by the value of diversity (DES) between the relationship of effective diversity management and work engagement was tested and the overall model was fully supported. The mediation was strong on three dimensions (trust, cultural competence, and respect), though not all the dimensions remained as mediators. Trust and cultural competence were presented as strong mediators fully aligned with the literature. 

Hypothesis 3, where the mediation of the perceptions about inclusion (PGIS) between the perceptions of effective diversity management and work engagement was tested and the overall model was supported. Furthermore, the mediation was based on three dimensions (authenticity, affection, and group membership) and authenticity and affection remained as mediators, aligned with the contemporary inclusion and leadership literature.

Group membership was no longer a significant predictor of work engagement and this is relevant as the majority of the literature exposes the relevance of membership as the foundation of an inclusive climate.

Finally, for the final conceptual model proposed (Hypothesis 4) results of the serial mediation model (PROCESS) of how individuals value diversity (DES) and subsequently the perceptions about inclusion (PGIS) and the influence between the relationship of effective diversity management and work engagement as tested and was also fully supported.

In conclusion, despite decades of research, the recent review of the literature and empirical tests suggests that academics and practitioners should continue working on better measurements tools for diversity and inclusion and most importantly the business case should not be focus on financial outcomes but on finding better ways to manage diverse groups effectively.

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