History of diversity

The concept of diversity appeared in the corporate world in the 90s, first in North America, and later in Europe.

Since the 60s, employers were required to implement management practices that were 'neutral' (Equal Employment Opportunities) and/or 'positive actions' (Affirmative Actions). The first ones aim to prevent discriminatory practices. The second ones make sure that decisions taken lead to the recruitment, the promotion and the retention of protected groups members (women, minorities, etc.).

In the 90s, these policies were being challenged as they were stigmatising and not clearly defined to prevent reverse discrimination. Then, there was an evolution from “equal opportunity” to "diversity management".

This evolution reflects the different changes at the demographic, economic, legal and cultural level. The concept of "diversity management" comes from a liberal philosophy based on the recognition of individual differences.

In Europe, Anglo-Saxon-based subsidiaries of multinational companies were pioneer in this area. In recent years, other national companies increased their development of diversity programs, policies or actions.