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Telling and selling the value of diversity and inclusion—External consultants' discursive strategies and practices

Abstract On the basis of a qualitative study of a subgroup of diversity professionals, external diversity and inclusion (D&I) consultants, we explore D&I consultants' discursive strategies and practices situated within organisational structures, relations, and interactions of power and knowledge. Theoretically, the research reveals how D&I consultants' own discursive strategies interact with existing organisational and societal discourses of diversity, incrementally shaping their continual evolution. A classification is developed, which sets out four approaches taken by consultants with regard to their discursive strategies in relation to clients. The findings suggest that HR practitioners need to work in tandem with external consultants to develop strategies to improve the status and legitimacy of diversity work if the field is to progress the organisational D&I agenda.

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