Best Practices for Managing Organizational Diversity

Abstract: Arguing that well-managed diversity in an organization can create a competitive advantage, Kreitz reviews both the best practices and the broader literature about managing diversity in the workplace. Her goal is to create a “practical primer on diversity management for library leaders and human resource managers.”

After surveying multiple definitions of workplace diversity, she then identifies two core resources for best practices in organizations (an article by Aronson and a report by the Government Accountability Office), as well as a classic article by Williams specifically aimed at academic library settings.

The GAO report, according to Kreitz, lists these nine, top-level best practices:

  1. Top leadership commitment-a vision of diversity demonstrated and communicated throughout an organization by top-level management.
  2. Diversity as part of an organization's strategic plan-a diversity strategy and plan that are developed and aligned with the organization's strategic plan.
  3. Diversity linked to performance-the understanding that a more diverse and inclusive work environment can yield greater productivity and help improve individual and organizational performance.
  4. Measurement-a set of quantitative and qualitative measures of the impact of various aspects of an overall diversity program.
  5. Accountability-the means to ensure that leaders are responsible for diversity by linking their performance assessment and compensation to the progress of diversity initiatives.
  6. Succession planning-an ongoing, strategic process for identifying a diverse talent pool and developing them into an organization's potential future leaders.
  7. Recruitment-the process of attracting a supply of qualified, diverse applicants for employment.
  8. Employee involvement-employee's contributions in driving diversity throughout an organization.
  9. Diversity training-organizational efforts to inform and educate management and staff about diversity's benefits to the organization

Aronson's article, according to Kreitz, ends with a cheat sheet of 46 suggestions for best practices.

He starts, however, by listing these four, top-level best practices:

  1. Commitment from the top - focused on communication and demonstration
  2. Inclusiveness - bringing people on board
  3. Diversity audit - assessing where an organization currently stands
  4. Strategic plan - a plan to promote diversity that includes 6 critical elements:
    • A compelling analysis of the business case identifying diversity's advantage(s) for the organization.
    • Recommendations for involving all employees in the diversity effort.
    • Institutionalization of the diversity initiative through an office or individual responsible for the strategic plan at the executive level.
    • Clearly defined goals tied to the gaps found through the diversity audit and the business goals.
    • Diversity metrics to track progress toward those goals.
    • Accountability metrics that hold managers responsible for meeting diversity goals

Aronson then gives detailed descriptions of specific best practices in the following areas:

  • recruitment and hiring,
  • promotion and career advancement,
  • alternative dispute resolution,
  • management accountability, and
  • human factors.

After summarizing the above articles, Kreitz briefly outlines the benefits that diversity brings to academic libraries and their campuses.

She stresses:

  • the need for ongoing support from top management,
  • the need for assessment of the diversity management practices employed, and
  • the basic competitive advantage that a diverse organization gains: many, different thoughts and thinkers provide the seeds for innovation, progress and understanding.

To bring her practicality full circle, she includes an annotated bibliography at the end whose topic areas broadly parallel the key best practices in diversity management.


First, let me say that I am bizarrely enamored of the quality of work put out by the Government Accountability Office: it’s nice to see my tax dollars being used by the government to create useful, ethical information for the public it serves.

More to the point, Kreitz' argument that many heads are better than one fits in well with my thoughts about encouraging the inclusion of more traditionally women’s ways of approaching information in design.

This paper highlights the need to continue addressing discriminatory structures in institutional information settings, as well as in the somewhat homogeneous world of interface design.

I was particularly struck by her admonishment to academic libraries to also include diversities of values and ideas in their collections: a shortcoming of many libraries which are diverse in relation to more officially-classified minority topics and groups.

Kreitz, Patricia A. (2008). Best Practices for Managing Organizational Diversity. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(2), 101-120. Retrieved September 14, 2008 from Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts Full Text.