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According to dictionaries, "diverse" means including people from various backgrounds. So, a "diverse workforce" makes perfect sense to me because the adjective here describes a noun that represents the whole of a group (workforce).

But in the case of "diverse employees," the adjective modifies individual constituents (employees), which is a bit weird, isn't it? Is this usage widely accepted?

In my observation, American people apparently apply this usage, to practically mean everybody but heterosexual white men--women in general, ethnic minorities, LGBT people, etc.--in a politically correct way.

Do people from Britain and other English-speaking countries use "diverse" in this particular sense?


I am only interested in the usage of the adjective "diverse," not in politically, morally, ethically correct ideals, which are, of course an important thing, though.

To make the usage of "diverse" in question clear, I would like to introduce as an example the following sentence, which is in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Diverse employees encounter health and safety concerns, increased household responsibilities, loneliness, and stifled career progression more often than nondiverse employees.

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If you said "John and Bill are the employees, and Mary, Tolulope, Kumar, Zlem, Gay Pete, and that disabled guy are the diverse ones", that would be amazingly clumsy, non-inclusive, and prejudiced. As you say, 'weird'. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it is wrong. The word 'diverse' has multiple meanings, including 'different' or 'various'. I have diverse items of clothing in my wardrobe, we have discovered diverse facts during our investigation, diverse employees have completed our questionnaire.

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  • +1. Although OP's usage doesn't strike me as that bad - calling "employees" in the sense of a general faceless group "diverse" (in the context where one would normally use "diverse workforce") is more clumsy than awful, but calling specific people "diverse" sounds wrong. Dec 23, 2020 at 8:52
  • I heard a colleague talk about 'ethnic people' once. He got called out on it. Dec 23, 2020 at 8:53
  • "Ethnic" (or, God forbid, "Oriental") are rather unacceptable even when referring to a group (you wouldn't say your company has an "ethnic workforce" either), but "diverse" is still usable in some of those contexts. Either way, when in doubt, it's probably to be avoided altogether. Dec 23, 2020 at 9:00

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