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Dimensions of Diversity: What Are Dimensions of Diversity?

Focuses on specific aspects of diversity such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation/gender identity, creed, and socioeconomic status

Immigration, Austin, Texas

Diversity Filters

Graphic showing four layers of diversity

[Source: Gardenswartz & Rowe, Diverse Teams at Work (2nd Edition, SHRM, 2003]

The 'Four Layers of Diversity' wheel shows the complexity of the diversity filters through which we all process stimuli and information. This leads to our assumptions, drives our own behaviors and ultimately impacts others.

"The pioneering research [on the wheel] ... was carried out by Marilyn Loden and Judy Rosener (Loden, Marilyn and Rosener, Judy B. Workforce America! Managing Employee Diversity as a Vital Resource. McGraw-Hill, 1991). Gardenswartz and Rowe (Gardenswartz, Lee and Rowe, Anita. Managing Diversity: A Complete Desk Reference & Planning Guide, McGraw-Hill, 1998.) built upon the primary and secondary dimensions and added two more layers to the "diversity  wheel" developing the Four Layers of Diversity model for the workplace.  [Goyal, S. (2009, August). Diversity at Workplace. HRM-Review, 36-40.]

Find a template of the dimensions of diversity wheel at the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium. There are free downloads, with permission to distribute or reference downloads with copyright and attribution to Gardenswartz & Rowe from the Archives on their site.

Materials Selected

The broad groups selected for this guide are those most frequently listed in works on diversity, cultural competency, and multiculturalism. Most of these are groups identified separately by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

To the extent possible, we chose materials that were written or created by those who identify with the selected group, letting them speak in their own voices to tell their own truths. If you have completed a Diversity Wheel (below) for yourself, you are aware that you identify yourself with many different groups, and that it is this complexity of identities that make you the unique person that you are.  Those whose works are collected under each group, likewise, identify with more than that one group. 

We also have to keep in mind that we cannot generalize the experiences of specific individuals within a group to all people in that group.  For some groups, there may be more diversity within the group than between groups. While the data, stories, and experiences in these works may provide insight into the lives of individuals that we, as outsiders, could not gain access to otherwise, we must remember that the information is colored, to some extent, by the lens of the teller or by the perspective or interpretation of the reporter or editor. 


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