Organizational barriers to diversity in the workplace

Maria T. Allison

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Scopus citations


    The purpose of this study was to identify, from the perspectives and experiences of 18 professional women and people of color, how park and recreation agencies dealt with diversity issues and programs. In-depth interviews focused on the organizational climate and the institutional barriers these individuals perceived and/or experienced in the workplace. Guiding questions included: 1) What are the organizational policies, principles, and practices that guide diversity issues in the workplace? 2) What efforts have agencies taken to foster sensitivity toward diversity? What are the strengths of those efforts and where have agencies failed?, and 3) What barriers, if any, have agencies erected, often unwittingly, that inhibit open access to opportunities within the organization? Three main themes emerged from the data. First, a discontinuity existed between organizational policy and practice with regard to diversity issues. Most efforts could be characterized as symbolic rather than substantive. For example, although diversity training was thought to be an important strategy to enhance sensitivity to diversity issues, it was ineffectively and inconsistently administered. Second, institutional inertia characterized most diversity efforts. Many agencies were not responsive to change and new programmatic initiatives. Third, respondents identified consistent inequitable practices in hiring, promotions, and job placement practices based on race and gender. The findings from this research suggest that park and recreation agencies, like other human-service agencies, often unknowingly participate in inequitable and exclusionary behavior. More indepth organizational analyses are needed to develop and support meaningful policies and practices to protect and enhance workplace diversity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)78-101
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Leisure Research
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1999


    • Diversity
    • Gender
    • Organizational barriers
    • Race/ethnicity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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