It is believed that the commitment to diversity in the workplace is rooted in the civil rights movement. Six decades later, many companies have achieved a demographically diverse workforce, while others have not. Some organizations assumed that diversity would automatically result in inclusion. Seemingly, it has been more elusive to create and sustain an inclusive workplace. Within large global organizations, the task of creating such a workplace rests with the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). Inclusion, as related to engaging diverse employees in the workplace, is an emerging concept. This study explored the perceptions and experiences of Chief Diversity Officers in establishing and maintaining an inclusive work environment. Specifically, this study focused on identifying the challenges they faced and determining the strategies and measures these practitioners implemented to cultivate cultures of inclusion. Further, given their experiences, this study sought to capture their recommendations for others who may consider such a task. Therefore, qualitative research methodology was aligned to the purpose of exploring the meaning assigned to this experience to identify best practices. The qualitative approach relied upon semi-structured interviews conducted on a one-on-one basis with the survey participants. In using a one-on-one format, the researcher was able to glean deep understanding and insight regarding the practices of CDOs. The salient findings of the study indicate that there is commonality in regards to the foundational elements of building a culture of inclusion and the challenges that the CDOs have faced. The most noted foundational elements were building organizational capability, blending inclusive practices throughout the talent management cycle and branding the organization as inclusive. With regard to the challenges, most often cited were organizational priority, executive embrace and sufficient resources. In consideration of the existence of measures and which metrics were captured, there was significant disparity. While there was no evidence of consistent best practice associated with measurement, there was universal belief that the creating and sustaining inclusive workplaces would be requisite in the future. The respondents noted that the shifting demographics would make inclusive workplaces requisite for global businesses.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Diversity in the workplace -- Management; Work environment -- Psychological aspects -- Case Studies; Leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;