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Abstract

The globalization of business and business practices blended with legislation and human resources requirements have transformed the face of today's workplace.  In response to this, there has emerged a group of diversity practitioners who work to address these opportunities and challenges.  These practitioners are often called upon to help organizations understand the impact that differences have in the boardroom and in the marketplace.  Interviews with 20 exemplary external diversity practitioners were conducted and then analyzed using the Lieblich, Rubal-Mashiach, and Zilber (1998) categorical content analysis procedure. Through these conversations, the work of these practitioners was described according to its definition, by its objectives (conduct), and in its content.  Study participants made an important distinction between the definition of “diversity” and that of “diversity management.” The respondents described “diversity” as a construct of variety, of difference, and of the tension that occurs as a result of differences.  The respondents described “diversity management” as a process of facilitating change in a system.  The diversity practitioners' work was described as resulting from the way they mix their passion for social responsibility and for meeting organizational requirements with their focus on a system, on the individuals in the system, or both.