Why do diversity programs fail

instead of trying to police managers’ decisions, the most effective programs engage people in working for diversity, increase their contact with women and minorities, and tap into their desire to look good to others. firms have long relied on diversity training to reduce bias on the job, hiring tests and performance ratings to limit it in recruitment and promotions, and grievance systems to give employees a way to challenge managers. it’s more effective to engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability—the desire to look fair-minded. managers tend to resent that implication and resist the message. companies that institute written job tests for managers—about 10% have them today—see decreases of 4% to 10% in the share of managerial jobs held by white women, african-american men and women, hispanic men and women, and asian-american women over the next five years. but studies show that raters tend to lowball women and minorities in performance reviews.

they apply three basic principles: engage managers in solving the problem, expose them to people from different groups, and encourage social accountability for change. in industries where plenty of college-educated nonmanagers are eligible to move up, like chemicals and electronics, mentoring programs also increase the ranks of white women and black men by 10% or more. the key, for stouffer, was that whites and blacks had to be working toward a common goal as equals—hundreds of years of close contact during and after slavery hadn’t dampened bias. the result, we’ve seen, is a bump of 3% to 7% in white women, black men and women, and asian-american men and women in management. once managers realized that employees, peers, and superiors would know which parts of the company favored whites, the gap in raises all but disappeared. they pay off, too: on average, companies that put in diversity task forces see 9% to 30% increases in the representation of white women and of each minority group in management over the next five years. the problem is that we can’t motivate people by forcing them to get with the program and punishing them if they don’t.

diversity managers cost money, but task forces use existing workers, so they’re a lot cheaper than some of the things that fail, such as mandatory training. strategies for controlling bias—which drive most diversity efforts—have failed spectacularly since they were introduced to promote equal opportunity. this article focuses on the reasons why diversity programs are unsuccessful and also offers actionable businesses have been adopting more diversity programs since the 1990s, but do they actually work?, diversity and inclusion failure, diversity and inclusion failure, diversity does not work, why diversity training doesn’t work, arguments against diversity in the workplace.

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