Discursive Diversity Strategy:  Signaling Theory and Implications for Firm Value

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Diversity is a multi-billion-dollar business. Dating back to the pre-Civil Rights era, what scholars now call discursive strategy–the language and meaning that shape phenomena–has shaped the diversity landscape. Over the past 75 years, we have witnessed a pattern of strategic maneuvering of the discursive strategy concerning diversity from the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the 1970s to affirmative action (1980s) to diversity management (1990s) to inclusiveness (2000s) and most recently to Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG). However, in response to reactions from its stakeholders, firms, e.g., Bud Light and Target have been forced to rethink the word choices, and subsequent actions, that reflect its attention to diversity. To frame these issues for strategy research, I propose that firms expand their strategies to include discursive diversity strategy, which I define as word choices among top leadership that reflect the firm's attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion.



Discursive Diversity Strategy, Board Gender Diversity, Employee Perceptions of Diversity Climate, Tobin's Q