Date of this Version
Published in Management Communication Quarterly 2016, Vol. 30(1) 59–83.
This article addresses how diversity consultants manage the dual demands of social justice and organizational goals or priorities. I suggest that navigating this “discursive paradox” is one of—if not the—defining feature of diversity work. To investigate this discursive paradox, I analyze diversity work as a process (rather than a collection of products) as evidenced in interviews with 19 diversity consultants. The results offer two derivative discursive paradoxes that emerged in consultants’ talk about diversity work: the tension between broad and narrow constructions of human differences and the tension between emphasizing change at the organizational and individual levels. Rather than framing these tensions as inherently problematic, I examine how consultants use them to create possibilities for change. Consequently, this work offers a promising approach for understanding and facilitating other forms of socially motivated organizational change, such as organizational sustainability or health and well-being campaigns.