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Fostering diversity and inclusion through communication


Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller, Akademische Gesellschaft

Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller

About the research project

Title: Let’s talk about Diversity & Inclusion: Fostering an inclusive work environment through communication

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

Project period: February 2020 – December 2021

Companies are expected to promote diversity in their workforce and reflect the multiple backgrounds of society. It poses the question to communications departments: How can corporate communications drive diversity and inclusion in their company? Scientific findings have been scarce. This is why the University of Vienna researched the role of communications in D&I management in cooperation with the Academic Society for Management & Communication.

To promote an inclusive corporate culture, three factors are critical: The commitment of top management, an inclusive leadership style, and open and personal communication. D&I efforts must be perceived as authentic. Only then will they have a positive impact on employee behavior.

Sabine Einwiller

“Talking about diversity and inclusion is just a means to an end. Eventually, it’s really about changing people’s mindset.“

Professor Sabine Einwiller, University of Vienna


  • Why diversity and inclusion matter
  • Positive effects of D&I on employees
  • What is needed for effective D&I management
  • Which communication formats strengthen the sense of inclusion
  • How to make employees aware of D&I
  • Interview with Katrin Harvey, Ban Ki-Moon Center for Global Citizens


The research project was led by Professor Sabine Einwiller and Daniel Wolfgruber (University of Vienna). The project consists of four modules:

  1. Literature review on D&I communication: Scientific publications from communication science, management, and organizational studies, business ethics, sociology, as well as practitioner-oriented literature were examined.
  2. Semi-structured interviews with 84 employees with and without various diversity characteristics in Germany and Austria: The aim was to investigate employees’ experiences gained with D&I-related measures. In addition, it was analyzed to which extent organizational communication on D&I issues impacts the perceived inclusion or exclusion of employees and what types of communication promote a sense of inclusion.
  3. Online survey of 1,000 employees: The aim was to determine how the company’s approach to D&I issues (handling and communication) impacts employees’ identification with the organization. In addition, the research team investigated how behavior in the workforce changes due to D&I measures.
  4. Semi-structured interviews with 20 D&I experts in Austria and Germany: To investigate the status quo, we asked about reasons for establishing D&I management, the design and implementation of communication measures, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interviews with D&I experts – a selection of organizations that participated