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Diversity and equity

John Berry (Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 1 August 2016




The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse two features of multicultural societies: diversity and equity. The author argues that both these features are necessary for multicultural societies and their institutions to be successful. Diversity is understood to include variations in culture, ethnicity, religion, age, gender and sexual orientation. Equity is understood to include inclusive participation and the removal of barriers to such participation. Diversity without the opportunity for equitable participation can lead to a form of separation; equity without diversity can lead to a form of assimilation; the absence of both can lead to marginalisation; and the presence of both can lead to a full integration.


This is a conceptual paper with a focus on better understanding of how to manage multicultural societies and institutions.


The author distinguishes between three meanings of multiculturalism; as demography; as policy; and as ideology. He proposes a conceptual framework to illustrate the various ways in which intercultural relations may take place at three levels (society, institutions and individual), and with two kinds of groups (dominant and non-dominant). An analysis of multiculturalism policy in Canada and internationally reveals three principles needed for success in such societies: the multiculturalism principle; the integration principle; and the contact principle.

Research limitations/implications

The use of these concepts for better management of intercultural relations in multicultural societies and institutions through mutual adaptation is proposed.


With much debate and confusion about the meaning and value of multiculturalism, this paper has sought to clarify many of the concepts and distinctions.



This work has been supported by the grant of Russian Science Foundation (Project No. 15-18-00029).


Berry, J. (2016), "Diversity and equity", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 413-430.



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