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While workplace diversity is a hot topic, the extent to which the diversity management movement has effectively improved intergroup relations and reduced racial inequality remains unclear. Despite large investments in diversity and inclusion training and other company wide initiatives, historically excluded groups remain vastly underrepresented in leadership and the most lucrative careers, such as finance, law, and technology. This calls the efficacy of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts into question, particularly with respect to reducing racial inequality in the workplace.

This Article explains why it is time for organizational leaders to move beyond the transactional case for diversity and instead use transformational messaging that is more likely to win both hearts and minds, change structures, and ultimately drive meaningful change. Part I explains the goals of a transactional approach and the resulting disconnect at both the individual and system levels. Part II discusses the goals of a transformational approach and offers preliminary empirical evidence that suggests it is more likely to drive inclusive action. Part III lays out a future research agenda that aims to further uncover why transformational messaging is more effective and why transactional messaging may backfire, with particular attention to social psychological mechanisms.

Publication Citation

Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 46, Issue 2: Berle XIII: Inclusive Corporate Leadership, Symposium Articles, Pp. 299.