Research Paradigm: Post-Positivist

How Diversity and Inclusivity Influence Leadership

Review of the Professional and Academic Literature Outline


Literature Review

Leadership Practices

Diversity in the workplace can either be inherent or acquired, which should be guided by standards of inclusivity that demand fairness to every employee (Chaudhry et al., 2020).

Diversity should also be defined by characteristics such as offering employees a sense of belongingness and embracing their uniqueness, which can be achieved by gathering multiple skills to enhance the work environment (Chaudhry et al., 2020).

Diverse work teams have an 87% increased rate of making better and more effective decisions (InStride, 2021). This makes it vital for companies to incorporate diversity into every level of the workplace because diverse teams have stable and more efficient leadership structures.

Strong leadership is a vital factor in companies that are encouraged by the development of diverse workforces (McCallaghan et al., 2019).

Transformational leadership theory identifies that transformational leaders focus on engaging their team members by enhancing positivity and increasing the development of diversity in a workplace because of their capacity to understand teammates and apply morals and ethics to manage teams (McCallaghan et al., 2019).

Inclusive leadership is a crucial element in promoting diversity and inclusivity. Leaders establish a perception vital for the management of equity in the workplace, because of their capacity to integrate behaviors and activities that encourage positive perceptions of diversity among employees (Ashikali et al., 2020).

Diversity is dependent on cultural respect and not cultural competence (Lokko et al., 2016). This shows that introducing people from different cultures to achieve diversity is not enough because additional practices of integrating the cultures with each other and with the general organizational goal are vital

Diversity is dependent on investing in employees’ cognition to ensure they feel motivated to incorporate their skills, cultures, and knowledge together for better performance (Lokko et al., 2016).

Cognitive diversity is an approach that companies can apply to advance the mentality of their employees toward certain cultures, especially the stereotyped subcultures (Meissner, & Wulf, 2017).

Cognitive diversity theory dictates that investing in cognitive diversity in terms of performance, cultures, and skills results in an innovative workplace because it encourages teams to consider the non-obvious choices, including the stereotyped or biased minorities (Jankelová, Joniaková, & Mišún, 2021).

Research indicates that the willingness to introduce diversity to a workplace should be supported with additional practices that will establish an effective culture that supports the goal (Lee et al., 2021).

The responsibility of diversity should also not be solely placed on leaders in a work environment because they are also prone to blind spots that limit them from identifying certain barriers to diversity (Lee et al, 2021).  

Successful integration of diversity by leaders increases creativity and innovation in the workplace, making employees more willing to work because of increased job satisfaction (Wang et al., 2013).

Diversity advances employees’ creativity, dedication, and compliance levels by ensuring that they feel a sense of belonging and that their input to the company is favored and valued regardless of their cultures and unique social practices (Chaudhry et al., 2020).

The Problem

Companies have failed to achieve diversity and inclusivity in their work environments, with most organizations introducing the name and failing to follow through with the promise of achieving diversity (Ely & Thomas, 2020). Most companies have gotten lost in their false perception of diversity when they are not putting in adequate effort to ensure that their workplaces achieve social, political, religious, sexual, and racial diversity, among other elements of inclusivity (Ely & Thomas, 2020).

Balancing diversity and inclusivity by focusing on equality has not been achieved in most companies (Williams et al., 2014). Acknowledging diversity is the starting point for introducing diversity, which will allow companies to overcome their business fear towards achieving equity.

A problem with diversity and inclusivity in the workplace has been the imbalance between male and female leaders in companies, with a slow progression into this aspect of diversity being experienced in major countries such as Belgium where 16% of managers were women as of 2018 compared to the previous figure that stagnated between 9% and 10% in previous years (Babic & Hansez, 2021).

The problem of low diversity in companies has also been linked to a lack of awareness, especially the lack of apprehension towards the different facets of sexuality being attributed to the lack of sexual diversity in companies (Kormanik, 2009).

A lack of diversity and inclusivity in companies is a problem linked to larger social issues of discrimination in the workplace, which are not well defined even with existing laws in the United States (Dover et al., 2019).


The role of diversity in enhancing leadership through internal cohesion, collaboration, and teamwork.

Increased diversity and inclusivity in the workplace has been linked to an increase in productivity in companies (Saxena, 2014). Diversity in the workplace increases productivity by making the work environment heterogeneous, which translates to an increase in cohesion and acknowledgment of differences in sexuality, race, disabilities, culture, race, and psychological factors (Saxena, 2014). A diverse and inclusive workforce becomes more productive because of the development of an understanding that no two humans can be the same (Saxena, 2014).

Diversity and inclusivity in a company will increase the collaboration by introducing an understanding of the different input that every employee’s differences bring to the company (Zubiri-Esnaola et al., 2020).  The increase in collaboration is attributed to the increase in structure and order arising from the understanding facilitated by diversity and inclusivity.

The role of diversity and inclusivity in enhancing employees’ intrinsic environment through motivation and belongingness.

Inclusivity and diversity in the workplace enhance a company’s competitive advantage by introducing inclusive leadership where people can work in a collaborative environment. Research indicates that an increase in diversity results in an increase in inclusivity by 2%, resulting in an understanding between employees and their leaders (Minbaeva, 2017). The development of competitive advantage is dependent on the increase in understanding within a company that results in effective relationships that support enhanced productivity.

A sense of belongingness increases with the development of diversity and inclusivity in organizations.  A diverse and inclusive workplace allows employees to embrace their differences and understand themselves with the company showing that they acknowledge and appreciate these variances, which generates a sense of belonging to the company based on the feeling of being understood (Booker & Campbell-Whatley, 2018). A sense of belonging to the company results in a stable leadership structure that is encouraged by developing a willingness to learn among employees.

Diversity and inclusivity also increase employee motivation, making it easier for leaders to direct and instruct the organization. Inclusive leadership encourages leaders in an organization to embrace the individual differences held by employees, which results in stable relationships that are guided by free communication and information sharing that motivates employees to offer the best input (Metzger et al., 2020).


A lack of awareness of the various elements of diversity and inclusivity has led to poor diversity standards in companies (Kormanik, 2009).

Companies fear introducing diversity into a workplace because of the expectation that it may result in the negative categorization of employees (Tasheva & Hillman, 2019).

Diversity and inclusivity in the workplace is dependent on the understanding of the internal organizational structure, which allows leaders to identify the differences that can be integrated into each other (Manoharan et al., 2021).

Intrinsic motivation is a factor that allows diversity and inclusivity to thrive in an organization that introduces a stable leadership because of the development of internal positivity, belongingness, and dedication to the company (Cardinal et al., 2022).

A dedication to equality in the organization is a stepping stone toward recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace because it introduces a need to balance the structures in the company ranging from social, emotional, and psychological elements (Sharma, 2016).

An individual’s personality is also a factor that determines the applicability of diversity and inclusivity to an organization with inclusive leadership being a source of leadership by example that allows employees to embrace each other’s personalities. Employee personalities can be used to determine their attitudes, perceptions, and reception toward an inclusive and diverse workplace, which allows leadership to be Align these with the appropriate theories.structured toward achieving the desired diversity standards (Anglim et al., 2019).

Constructs and Variables

The role of leadership style in determining the level of diversity in the workplace.

Transformational leadership is the leadership style approved for enhancing the development of teamwork dedication by urging teams to embrace their differences (Brown et al., 2019).

Diversity’s influence on leadership is strongly dependent on the initial leadership style applied in an organization. Diversity works well in an environment governed by leadership styles that can effectively manage a diverse teams through communication and conflict management (Prieto et al., 2016).

Barriers to diversity management in the workplace.

Diversity is severely hindered in the workplace through poor change management structures in a company (Van den Brink, 2020).

 Biases and stereotypes are also a major barrier to the introduction of inclusivity because they are difficult perspectives to eradicate (Spector et al., 2019).

 Intrinsic motivation is a factor that encourages diversity and promotes healthy leadership, leading to higher productivity.

For stable leadership to be achieved in an organization, intrinsic motivation in a team must balance with the cognitive diversity held by the team members, which results in enhanced productivity (Kim et al., 2020).

Intrinsic motivation stems from a company acknowledging and respecting the individual differences within a workplace, which makes the employees feel like they belong, allowing for better performance (Grant & Hill, 2020).

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, intrinsic motivation is best achieved through effectively addressing minimalistic factors that result in trust and a sense of safety, which offers the employee a sense of empowerment that their additional needs, including recognition, will be met (Mansaray, 2019).

Related Studies

Trust helps strike a balance between diversity and leadership by allowing employees to believe in themselves and each other, which enhances the general performance of teams by facilitating teamwork, reducing conflict in teams (Inegbedion et al., 2020)

The perceptions that managers hold towards diversity is also a determinant of the extent of diversity that can be achieved in each work environment (Madera et al., 2013).

Learning occurs based on a willingness to learn, which is generated from an individual’s compartmentalization of existing and new knowledge of cultures and beliefs practiced by others, which may significantly limit the achievement of the benefits of diversity because this results in a chance of increased stereotyping (Otaye-Ebede et al., 2019).

Anticipated Themes and Discovered Themes

Research indicates that interacting with people who hold multiple cultures allows people to expand their beliefs, thus drawing them away from their stereotypes and biases to allow the work environment to be based on inclusivity (Chaudhry et al., 2020).

An increase in job satisfaction is anticipated as a result of inclusivity and diversity practices such as teamwork and free workspaces because of the development of a positive perception of productivity (Hauret et al., 2020).

Team innovation will also improve from the introduction and emphasis on diversity in the workplace because diverse work environments boost employees’ moods to result in a creative task force (Mitchell et al., 2021).


Having a diverse work environment facilitates better leadership by introducing a teamwork mentality among employees (Ashikali et al., 2020).

Diversity teaches employees to respect each other and, thus learn from each other, which enhances the productivity in an organization (Hofhuis et al., 2016).

It is important to address barriers such as stereotypes and poor change management that may hinder the success of diversity in a work environment (Hofhuis et al., 2016).

Diversity influences the leadership and productivity in an organization by increasing trust and openness, which allows free communication and interactions (Hofhuis et al., 2016).

Creativity is also a dominant benefit of embracing diversity in the workplace because diverse teams have more efficient cognitive and social performance, which opens the employees to a free environment where their inner thoughts and ideas are respected without emphasis on characteristics such as holding a minority status (Zhou & Hoever, 2014).


Anglim, J., Sojo, V., Ashford, L. J., Newman, A., & Marty, A. (2019). Predicting employee attitudes to workplace diversity from personality, values, and cognitive ability. Journal of Research in Personality, 83, 103865. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2019.103865

Ashikali, T., Groeneveld, S., & Kuipers, B. (2020). The role of inclusive leadership in supporting an inclusive climate in diverse public sector teams. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 41(3), 497-519. https://doi.org/10.1177/0734371×19899722

Babic, A., & Hansez, I. (2021). The glass ceiling for women managers: Antecedents and consequences for work-family interface and well-being at work. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.618250

Booker, K., & Campbell-Whatley, G. (2018). How faculty create learning environments for diversity and inclusion. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 13, 14-27. https://doi.org/10.46504/14201801bo

Brown, M., Brown, R. S., & Nandedkar, A. (2019). Transformational leadership theory and exploring the perceptions of diversity management in higher education. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 19(7). https://doi.org/10.33423/jhetp.v19i7.2527

Chaudhry, I. S., Paquibut, R. Y., & Tunio, M. N. (2021). Do workforce diversity, inclusion practices, & organizational characteristics contribute to organizational innovation? Evidence from the U.A.E. Cogent Business & Management, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/23311975.2021.1947549

Dover, T. L., Kaiser, C. R., & Major, B. (2019). Mixed signals: The unintended effects of diversity initiatives. Social Issues and Policy Review, 14(1), 152-181. https://doi.org/10.1111/sipr.12059

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Grant, D. E., & Hill, J. B. (2020). Activating culturally empathic motivation in diverse students. Journal of Education and Learning, 9(5), 45. https://doi.org/10.5539/jel.v9n5p45

Hauret, L., & Williams, D. R. (2020). Workplace diversity and job satisfaction. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: An International Journal, 39(4), 419-446. https://doi.org/10.1108/edi-01-2019-0030

Hofhuis, J., Van der Rijt, P. G., & Vlug, M. (2016). Diversity climate enhances work outcomes through trust and openness in workgroup communication. SpringerPlus, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40064-016-2499-4

Inegbedion, H., Inegbedion, S., Asaleye, A., Lawal, A., & Adebanji, A. (2020). Managing Diversity for Organizational Efficiency. Sage Open, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244019900173

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Jankelová, N., Joniaková, Z., & Mišún, J. (2021). Innovative work behavior—A key factor in business performance? The role of team cognitive diversity and teamwork climate in this relationship. Journal of Risk and Financial Management, 14(4), 185. https://doi.org/10.3390/jrfm14040185

Kim, T., David, E. M., & Liu, Z. (2020). Perceived cognitive diversity and creativity: A multilevel study of motivational mechanisms and boundary conditions. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 55(1), 168-182. https://doi.org/10.1002/jocb.443

Kormanik, M. B. (2009). Sexuality as a diversity factor: An examination of awareness. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 11(1), 24-36. https://doi.org/10.1177/1523422308329369

Lee, T., Volpp, K., Cheung, V. G., & Dzau, V. (2021). Diversity and Inclusiveness in Health Care Leadership: Three Key Steps. NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery, 2(3). https://doi.org/10.1056/CAT.21.0166

Lokko, H. N., Chen, J. A., Parekh, R. I., & Stern, T. A. (2016). Racial and ethnic diversity in the US psychiatric workforce: A perspective and recommendations. Academic Psychiatry, 40(6), 898-904. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40596-016-0591-2

Madera, J. M., Dawson, M., & Neal, J. A. (2013). Hotel managers’ perceived diversity climate and job satisfaction: The mediating effects of role ambiguity and conflict. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 35, 28-34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2013.05.001

Mansaray, H. E. (2019). The role of human resource management in employee motivation and performance-an overview. Budapest International Research and Critics Institute (BIRCI-Journal): Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(3), 183-194. https://doi.org/10.33258/birci.v2i3.405

Manoharan, A., Madera, J. M., & Singal, M. (2021). Walking the talk in diversity management: Exploring links between strategic statements, management practices, and external recognition. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 94, 102864. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2021.102864

McCallaghan, S., Jackson, L. T., & Heyns, M. M. (2019). Transformational leadership, diversity climate, and job satisfaction in selected South African companies. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 29(3), 195-202. https://doi.org/10.1080/14330237.2019.1619994

Meissner, P., & Wulf, T. (2017). The effect of cognitive diversity on the illusion of control bias in strategic decisions: An experimental investigation. European Management Metzger, M., Dowling, T., Guinn, J., & Wilson, D. T. (2020). Inclusivity in baccalaureate nursing education: A scoping study. Journal of Professional Nursing, 36(1), 5-14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.profnurs.2019.06.002

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Otaye-Ebede, L., Shaffakat, S., & Foster, S. (2019). A multilevel model examining the relationships between workplace spirituality, ethical climate, and outcomes: A social cognitive theory perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 166(3), 611-626. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04133-8

Prieto, L. C., Norman, N. V., Phipps, S. T., & Chenault, E. (2016). Tackling microaggressions in organizations: A broken windows approach. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 13(3), 36-49. https://www.proquest.com/openview/ec10e22bb91e0ded0b65424bf2abfd47/1?p

Saxena, A. (2014). Workforce diversity: A key to improve productivity. Procedia Economics and Finance, 11, 76-85. https://doi.org/10.1016/s2212-5671(14)00178-6

Sharma, A. (2016). Managing diversity and equality in the workplace. Cogent Business & Management, 3(1), 1212682. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311975.2016.1212682

Spector, N. D., Asante, P. A., Marcelin, J. R., Poorman, J. A., Larson, A. R., Salles, A., Oxentenko, A. S., & Silver, J. K. (2019). Women in pediatrics: Progress, barriers, and opportunities for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Pediatrics, 144(5). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-2149

Tasheva, S., & Hillman, A. J. (2019). Integrating diversity at different levels: Multilevel human capital, social capital, and demographic diversity and their implications for team effectiveness. Academy of Management Review, 44(4), 746-765. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2015.0396

Van den Brink, M. (2020). “Reinventing the wheel over and over again”. Organizational learning, memory, and forgetting in doing diversity work. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: An International Journal, 39(4), 379-393. https://doi.org/10.1108/edi-10-2019-0249

Wang, P., Rode, J. C., Shi, K., Luo, Z., & Chen, W. (2013). A Workgroup climate perspective on the relationships among transformational leadership, Workgroup diversity, and employee creativity. Group & Organization Management, 38(3), 334-360. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601113488163

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Zubiri-Esnaola, H., Vidu, A., Rios-Gonzalez, O., & Morla-Folch, T. (2020). Inclusivity, participation and collaboration: Learning in interactive groups. Educational Research, 62(2), 162-180. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2020.1755605