Public Organization Review

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 487–507 | Cite as

The Prospects for Managing Diversity in the Public Sector: The Case of the Ontario Public Service

  • Frank L. K. Ohemeng
  • Jocelyn McGrandle


Diversity management (DM) has become one of the critical aspects of public sector reforms in recent times because of population dynamics and demographic shifts in society. The idea is that DM can help public organizations achieve their objectives effectively, especially service delivery. In 2008, the Ontario government made DM a core part of its public sector modernization agenda, and launched its first comprehensive diversity strategy that viewed diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion as fundamental to a modern, progressive civil service. This paper aims at understanding the challenges in the implementation of diversity and inclusiveness in the Ontario public service.


Canada Diversity management Ontario Public sector Public service 


  1. Agocs, C., & Burr, C. (1996). Employment equity, affirmative action and managing diversity: assessing the differences. International Journal of Manpower, 17(4/5), 30–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahmed, S. (2007). The language of diversity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30(2), 235–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bacchi, C. (2000). The seesaw effect: down goes affirmative action, up comes workplace diversity. Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, 5(2), 64–83.Google Scholar
  4. Bakan, A. B. and Kobayashi, A. (2007). Affirmative action and employment equity: Policy, ideology and backlash in Canadian content. Studies in Political Economy, 79(Spring), 145–166.Google Scholar
  5. Bakan, A. B. and Kobayashi, A. (2003). Ontario: Lesson of the rise and fall of employment equity legislation from the perspective of rights advocacy. Toronto: Canadian Race Relations Foundation.Google Scholar
  6. Bakan, A. B. and Kobayashi, A. (2000). Employment equity policy in Canada: An interprovincial comparison, Status of Women in Canada,, (accessed 2nd May 2012).
  7. Basset-Jones, N. (2005). The paradox of diversity management: creativity and innovation. Creativity and Innovation Management, 14(2), 169–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bleijenbergh, I., Peters, P., & Poutsma, E. (2010). Diversity management beyond the business case. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, 29(5), 413–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Borins, S. F. (2012). Making narrative count: a narratological approach to public management innovation. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 22(1), 165–189.Google Scholar
  10. Caiden, G. (2006). The administrative state in a globalizing world: some trends and challenges. Research in Public Policy Analysis and Management, 15, 514–542.Google Scholar
  11. Casella, E. (1995). Ontario Tories to kill employment equity act. Hamilton Spectator, Thursday, October 12, A3Google Scholar
  12. Charles, J. (2003). Diversity management: an exploratory assessment of minority group representation in state government. Public Personnel Management, 32(4), 561–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Choi, S., & Rainey, H. G. (2010). Managing diversity in U.S. Federal agencies: effects of diversity and diversity management on employee perceptions of organizational performance. Public Administration Review, 70(1), 109–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cooke, F. L., & Saini, D. S. (2010). Diversity management in India: a study of organizations in different ownership forms and industrial sectors. Human Resource Management, 49(3), 477–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cornelius, N., Gooch, L., & Todd, S. (2000). Managers leading diversity for business excellence. Journal of General Management 25(3), 67–78.Google Scholar
  16. Dobbs, M. F. (1998). Managing diversity: the department of energy initiative. Public Personnel Management, 27(2), 161–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eboe-Osuji, C. and McIsaac, E. (2002). Repeal of the Ontario employment equity laws: Denial of equal protection of the law. In C. Agocs (ed.) Workplace Equality: International Perspectives on Legislation, Policy and Practice, The Hague: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  18. Edelman, L. B., Riggs Fuller, S., & Mara-Drita, I. (2001). Diversity rhetoric and the managerialization of law. American Journal of Sociology 106(6), 1589–1641Google Scholar
  19. Gilbert, J. A., Stead, B. A., & Ivancevich, J. M. (1999). Diversity management: a new organizational paradigm. Journal of Business Ethics, 21(1), 61–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Government of Ontario (1990). Speech from the Throne, Date=1990-11-20 (accessed 9th May 2012).
  21. Hamde, K., Janssens, M., Laer, K. V., Wahlin, N., & Zanoni, P. (2011). Diversity and diversty management in business and organization studies. In S. Knotter, R. De Lobels, L. Tsipouri, & V. Stenius (Eds.), Diversity research and policy: A multidisciplinary exploration. Amsterdam: Pallas Publications.Google Scholar
  22. Ivancevich, J. M., & Gilbert, J. A. (2000). Diversity management - time for a new approach. Public Personnel Management, 29(1), 75–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Joplin, J. R. W., & Daus, C. S. (1997). Challenges of leading a diverse workforce. Academy of Management Executive, 11(3), 32–47.Google Scholar
  24. Kaler, J. (2001). Diversity, equality, morality. In M. Noon and E. Ogbonna (Eds)., Equality, Diversity, and Disadvantage in Employment. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke.Google Scholar
  25. Kandola, R., & Fullerton, J. (1994). Diversity in action: Managing the mosaic. London: Cromwell Press.Google Scholar
  26. Kandola, R., Fullerton, J., & Ahmed, Y. (1995). Managing diversity: succeeding where equal opportunities has failed. Equal Opportunities Review, 59, 31–6.Google Scholar
  27. Kelly, E., & Dobbin, F. (1998). How affirmative action became diversity management. American Behavioural Scientist, 41(7), 960–984.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kochan, T., Bezrukova, K., Ely, R., & Jackson, S. (2003). The effects of diversity on business performance: report of the diversity research network. Human Resource Management, 42(1), 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Latimer, R. L. (1998). The case for diversity in global business, and the impact of diversity on team performance. Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal incorporating Journal of Global Competitiveness, 8(2), 3–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lewis, S. (1992). Report of the advisor on race relations to the premier of Ontario, Bob Rae, (accessed 9th May 2012).
  31. Liff, S. (1996). Two routes to managing diversity: individual differences or social group characteristics. Employee Relations, 19(1), 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Litvin, D. R. (2002). The business case for diversity and the ‘Iron Cage.’ In B. Czarniawska and H. Höpfl (Eds.), Casting the other: The production and maintenance of inequalities in work organizations. New York. NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Loreto, R. (1990). The bureaucracy. In G. White (Ed.), The government and politics of Ontario (4th ed.). Toronto: Nelson.Google Scholar
  34. Madhany, S. (2011). Inclusion Lens: An innovative view into inclusive polices, programs and services. (accessed 3rd April 2012).
  35. Mathews, A. (1998). Diversity: a principle of human resource management. Public Personnel Management, 27(2), 175–185.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Maxwell, G. (2004). Minority report: taking the initiative in managing diversity at BBC Scotland. Employee Relations, 26(2), 182–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Maxwell, G. A., Blair, S., & McDougall, M. (2001). Edging towards managing diversity in practice. Employee Relations, 23(5), 468–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ministry of Citizenship. (1991). Working towards equality: The discussion paper on employment equity legislation. Toronto: Ontario.Google Scholar
  39. Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (2008). 2008 Framework for Action: Diverse Ontario, Diverse OPS, Toronto: OntarioGoogle Scholar
  40. Ng, E. S. W., & Burke, R. J. (2005). Person-organization fit and the war for talent: does diversity management make a difference? International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(7), 1195–1210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nolan, D. (1995). Harris trashes Ontario’s employment-equity law. The Gazette, Thursday, July 20, A8.Google Scholar
  42. Noon, M. (2007). The fatal flaws of diversity and the business case for ethnic minorities. Work, Employment and Society, 21(4), 773–784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pitts, D. (2009). Diversity management, job satisfaction, and performance: evidence from U.S. Federal agencies. Public Administration Review, 69(2), 328–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pless, N. M., & Maak, T. (2004). Building an inclusive diversity culture: principles, processes and practice. Journal of Business Ethics, 54(2), 129–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. OECD. (2009). Fostering diversity in the public service. Public employment and management working party GOV/PGC/PEM(2009)1.
  46. Ontario Public Service (OPS). (2009). Driving change from a solid foundation: OPS diversity three-year strategic plan and annual progress report. Toronto: Ontario.Google Scholar
  47. Ontario Public Service Diversity Office (OPSDO). (2011). OPS diversity annual report: Toward inclusion. Toronto: Ontario.Google Scholar
  48. Ospina, S., & Dodge, J. (2005). It’s about time: catching method up to meaning-the usefulness of narrative inquiry in public administration research. Public Administration Review, 65(2), 143–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Riccucci, N. M. (2002). Managing diversity in public sector workforces. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  50. Riccucci, N. R. (2006). Affirmative action in the twenty-first century. In N. R. Riccucci (Ed.), Public personnel management: Current concerns, future challenges (4th ed.). New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  51. Robinson, G., & Dechant, K. (1997). Building a business case for diversity. Academy of Management Executive, 11(3), 21–31.Google Scholar
  52. Roch, L. (2008). The case for diversity in a large public sector organization, The 8th Annual Conference on the Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Montreal, Canada, June 18.Google Scholar
  53. Schneider, S. K., & Northcraft, G. B. (1999). Three social dilemmas of workforce diversity in organizations: a social identity perspective. Human Relations, 52(11), 1445–1467.Google Scholar
  54. Sippola, A., & Smale, A. (2007). The global integration of diversity management: a longitudinal case study. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(11), 1895–1916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Soni, V. (2000). A twenty-first-century reception for diversity in the public sector: a case study. Public Administration Review, 60(5), 395–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Thomas, R. R. Jr. (1990). From affirmative action to affirming diversity. Harvard Business Review, March-April: 107–117.Google Scholar
  57. Tomlinson, F., & Schwabenland, C. (2010). Reconciling competing discourses of diversity? The UK non-profit sector between social justice and the business case. Organization, 17(1), 101–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Toughill, K. (1993). Ontario passes job equity law - the first in Canada. Toronto Star, Friday, 10 December, A2.Google Scholar
  59. Von Bergen, C. W., Soper, B., & Foster, T. (2002). Unintended negative effects of diversity management. Public Personnel Management, 31(2), 239–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wrench, J. (2005). Diversity management can be bad for you. Race and Class, 46(3), 73–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zanoni, P., Janssens, M., Benschop, Y., & Nkomo, S. (2010). Unpacking diversity, grasping inequality: rethinking difference through critical perspectives. Organization, 17(1), 9–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Administration program, School of Political StudiesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations