Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Communication Reports 27:1 (January–June 2014), pp. 39–52.

doi: 10.1080/08934215.2013.837497


Copyright © 2014 Western States Communication Association; published by Routledge/Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


Diversity policies and programs continue to be a prominent yet problematic feature of organizational life. This study explored tensions arising as 30 employees talk about their experience with Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Affirmative Action (AA), and diversity in a midwestern human service organization. Tensions related to fairness and fear emerged as interpretive themes prompting majority group members to avoid interacting about racial differences and minority group members to do the work of making difference meaningful. We argue that formal policies and diversity programs be reimagined so as to ease interaction constraints between groups.