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Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller, Akademische Gesellschaft

Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller

About the research project

Title: Diversity & Inclusion Communication as Provocation? On dealing with critical voices on D&I measures and inclusive language.

Team: Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller, Dr. Daniel Wolfgruber (University of Vienna)

Project period: January – November 2022

“Don’t we have other problems?” – a cynical question often asked by employees when D&I initiatives such as the use of inclusive language are introduced.

Although D&I management aimed at fostering an inclusive work environment can lead to economic benefits while promoting a more equitable world, it is often criticized – internally and externally. But who voices this criticism, how is it voiced, and what are the central points of contention?


  • Diversity and inclusion as triggers for criticism
  • Employee criticism of D&I measures – causes, issues, platforms
  • Recommendations from D&I managers
  • Criticism of corporate D&I communication from external stakeholders on social media platforms.


The research project was divided into three sub-studies:

  1. Extensive literature review in the disciplines of communication studies, psychology, sociology, management and organizational studies, gender studies, linguistics, and philosophy.
  2. Semi-structured interviews with 15 experts in D&I management or internal communications from 13 companies headquartered in Germany or Austria. Industries included technology, banking and finance, pharmaceuticals, and logistics/transportation.
  3. Quantitative content analysis of over 350 D&I-related posts and 1,000 subsequent critical comments.
    Study 2 looked at D&I communications and subsequent critical comments on the Facebook and Twitter pages of large companies based in Germany, Austria and the USA. A total of 368 contributions were identified, stored and coded (Germany/Austria: 145; USA: 223). The number of critical comments was limited to a maximum of five per D&I post, so 1,049 critical comments were coded and analyzed.
Companies that participated in the semi-structured expert interviews – a selection