Professionalizing Diversity and Inclusion Practice: Should Voluntary Standards Be the Chicken or the Egg?


  • The authors are members of the Society for Human Resource Management's Diversity and Inclusion Standards Task Force. Mary Lou Egan, Patricia C. Pope, and Kevin Murphy contributed important insights. However, the authors alone are responsible for all findings and conclusions.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Rosemary Hays-Thomas.


Address: University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL 32514


Workplace diversity and inclusion (D & I) practices today are based to a great extent on unevaluated experience and intuition rather than empirical evidence. Would voluntary professional practice standards in this field help to raise the level of current and future practice? Or would they be premature? If developed under 4 principles we describe, we predict the former. However, this positive outcome will also require industrial and organizational (I–O) psychologists to join their D & I colleagues in expanding research on D & I practices, strengthening the skills of D & I practitioners, assisting employers to avoid self-incrimination, and enhancing employer commitment to D & I itself. I–O psychologists should also be aware of other implications of D & I practice standards for their work.