The recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce has been central to the broader diversity agenda surrounding policing that is reviewed in other contributions to this collection and in the wider literature. Although the Lawrence Report of 1999 provided an influential agenda that led to a sustained and extensive programme intended to recruit greater numbers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff to the police service, it was far from the first time that such ambitions were articulated. In both England and Wales and the USA, programmes to recruit minority ethnic or racial staff have been matched by parallel efforts to broaden diversity in terms of age, gender, sexuality, and from disabled communities. The diversity agenda has been broader than the issues relating to BAME staffing that are outlined here but these have been important long-term dimensions of some more recent elements of debates reviewed in this special edition. This article briefly reviews the recent history of these developments before undertaking a comparative analysis of the experiences of the USA and England and Wales in terms of promoting the development of a more ethnically/racially diverse police workforce. It is understood that the analysis based on examination of these two countries does not necessarily extend to developments elsewhere. The USA and England and Wales examples are chosen here since there is a long history of comparative analysis of developments in policing, between these two countries, data are relatively freely accessible in both contexts, and because similar programs have been introduced in each. It is argued that the experiences from both countries indicate that while considerable progress has been made, problems still exist in terms of ethnic/racial classifications, the extent to which recruitment drives of various kinds have been successful, and also that there remains a lack of clarity in terms of the goals and benefits that might derive from increased diversity. Crucially, a central ambiguity remains in that the establishment of a police workforce that more closely matches the racial and ethnic diversity of the general population is sometimes regarded as a precondition for wider improvements in police relations with BAME communities, but also as a symbolic outcome of changes within the service.