Diversity initiatives are designed to help workers from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve equitable opportunities and outcomes in organizations. However, these programs are often ineffective. To better understand less-than-desired outcomes and the shifting diversity landscape, we synthesize literature on how corporate affirmative action programs became diversity initiatives and current literature on their effectiveness. We focus specifically on work dealing with mechanisms that make diversity initiatives effective as well as their unintended consequences. When taken together, these literature point to several inequality-specific omissions in contemporary discussions of organizational diversity initiatives, such as the omission of racial inequality. As we contend in the first section of this review, without affirmative action law, which initially tasked US employers with ending racial discrimination at the workplace, we would not have diversity initiatives. We conclude by providing directions for future research and elaborating on several core foci that scholars might pursue to better (re)connect issues of organizational diversity with the aims of equity, equality and social justice.