The idea for a Diversity Charter was conceived in January 2004 in a report issued by the French think tank Montaigne Institute. The report entitled "Les oubliés de l'égalité des chances" [By the Wayside of Equal Opportunity] was co-written by Yazid Sabeg, a leading French CEO, and journalist Laurence Méhaignerie.

They will both be coordinating the drafting of the Charter in association with major corporations.
The Charter was launched on 22 October 2004 by Claude Bébéar, Chairman of the Montaigne Institute, and Yazid Sabeg. It was then signed by 33 companies, including a few SMEs.

The Diversity Charter was the first document of its kind in Europe and went on to inspire other initiatives.

A Secretariat General for the Diversity Charter was set up at IMS-Entreprendre pour la Cité in September 2005 to handle promotional efforts for the Diversity Charter in France in association with the Charter’s private and public partners.

The Diversity Charter is supported by political authorities.