Business diversity has been around for well over half a century but its motivations, status and success have evolved rapidly during that time. Initially, diverse workplaces were seen as necessary to comply with equal opportunity employment and hiring of new workers from minority groups was seen as an example of tokenism.
Social justice then emerged as the dominant force behind diversity in the workplace – it became important to give positions to those from minority groups not only to comply with the relevant legislation but also because it was ethical to do so. The scope of diversity then increasingly broadened, to include things like age and sexual orientation in addition to race.
Nowadays, diversity in the workplace is seen as both necessary due to an increasingly interconnected world, as well as the right thing to do. There’s also more emphasis on the business perspective, with widespread belief that the richer mix of viewpoints associated with a diverse workforce can help with things like innovation and employee engagement. Compliance with equality opportunities legislation is seen as an administrative by-product of a wider positive trend rather than the motivation behind diversity.