Telling and selling the value of diversity and inclusion—External consultants' discursive strategies and practices

Gill Kirton*, Anne Marie Greene

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On the basis of a qualitative study of a subgroup of diversity professionals, external diversity and inclusion (D&I) consultants, we explore D&I consultants' discursive strategies and practices situated within organisational structures, relations, and interactions of power and knowledge. Theoretically, the research reveals how D&I consultants' own discursive strategies interact with existing organisational and societal discourses of diversity, incrementally shaping their continual evolution. A classification is developed, which sets out four approaches taken by consultants with regard to their discursive strategies in relation to clients. The findings suggest that HR practitioners need to work in tandem with external consultants to develop strategies to improve the status and legitimacy of diversity work if the field is to progress the organisational D&I agenda.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-691
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Issue number4
Early online date21 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was carried out with a British Academy grant. We are grateful to all the consultants who participated in the interviews.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • discourse
  • discursive strategies
  • diversity and inclusion consultants
  • diversity management
  • diversity professionals

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