For this research, the influence of context on individual diversity perceptions was investigated. A relational approach was adopted to account for the influence of national culture, industry, organisation and identity on diversity perceptions. Current diversity literature has been criticised for being decontextualized and for not considering intersections between diversity dimensions. The dynamic and contextual nature of diversity has been, to a great extent, disregarded. Critical diversity studies call for a revitalisation of diversity research through comparative, contextual and intersectional research, which is the focus of this research. To preserve the context-specific nature of the diversity construct, a qualitative social constructionism epistemology was adopted. Thematic analysis was employed to analyse semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with a total of 68 employees in the technology industry across three countries: Egypt, Germany and the United Kingdom. At the macro level, national culture was accounted for using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, cultural tightness-looseness theory and the World Values Survey. At the meso level, industry diversity dynamics and organisational diversity management were considered. At the micro individual level, identity was theoretically conceptualised through social identity theory, professional role identity and intersectionality.
Findings have shown that perceived diversity is individually unique and is shaped by the interaction of the multiple contexts individuals exist within, as well as their social and professional identities. National culture has been shown to influence the diversity discourse, taboo topics, gender dynamics and individual diversity attitudes. The research has shown that in Egypt, individual diversity attitudes were avoidance and apprehension. In Germany, individual diversity attitudes were pragmatism and avoidance, and in the UK, individual diversity attitudes were evasiveness and simplification. The industry and organisation contexts have been found to influence individual diversity management perceptions. Three reactions to diversity management are proposed: frustration, incomprehension, and cynicism. The empirical study of perceived diversity is a conceptual contribution to knowledge. A framework of the influence of context on diversity perceptions has been proposed. The current study’s outcomes, in addition to theory and knowledge contributions, allow for explanations to be provided for diversity management practitioners regarding how employees perceive their diversity policies.