Key findings of the study

  • The implementation of D&I management is a pervasive change process that affects all areas of an organization.
     
  • D&I issues should be aligned with the overall corporate strategy, in order to benefit the organization and its internal and external stakeholders.
     
  • The commitment of the management board is vital if D&I management is to be pursued seriously.
     
  • Communication measures should be aligned with the D&I and corporate communication strategy to avoid inconsistencies, that might harm the company’s authenticity and trustworthiness.
     
  • Involve employees when developing a strategy for D&I management and its accompanying and communication. It is essential to gain insight into their desires and needs.
     
  • Creating an inclusive culture is the overarching goal of D&I management and can only be achieved through fair, dialogue-based communication on equal terms. The implementation of adequate D&I measures and initiatives (e.g. training and workshops, internal communication, inclusive management style) support these goals.

 

Methodology

The research project was led by Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller and Daniel Wolfgruber, University of Vienna. It is divided into four sub-studies:

  1. Literature review of scientific, management and organizational studies on diversity management and communication. Besides that, the research team analyzed literature from other fields like business ethics or sociology.
     
  2. Semi-structured interviews with 84 employees with and without various diversity characteristics in Germany and Austria. The aim was to investigate employees' experiences with D&I-related measures and communication and which organizational communication influences the inclusion/exclusion of employees.
     
  3. Online survey of 1,000 employees: The aim was to find out to what extent an organization's handling of and communication about D&I issues influence employees' identification with the organization. In addition, the research team investigated, how the behaviors of fellow employees change.  
     
  4. Semi-structured interviews with 20 D&I experts in Austria and Germany to draw a holistic picture of the status quo of D&I management: reasons for establishing D&I management, conception and implementation of communication measures as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies that participated in the semi-structured expert interviews – a selection:

Research team

​​​​​​​The research project was conducted by Dr. Sabine Einwiller and Daniel Wolfgruber at the University of Vienna from 2020 to 2021:

  • Dr. Sabine Einwiller is the professor of Public Relation Research at the Department of Communication at the University of Vienna.
     
  • Daniel Wolfgruber, M.A. is a research associate in the Department of Communication at the University of Vienna.