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Why Do Diversity Programs Fail?
Businesses have been adopting more diversity programs since the 1990s, but do they actually work?
Diversity programs have become commonplace in the professional world, but do they actually work?
Not really, according to an award-winning report in the Harvard Business Review written by Frank Dobbin, a professor of sociology at Harvard, and Alexandra Kalev, an associate professor at Tel Aviv University.
“It shouldn’t be surprising that most diversity programs aren’t increasing diversity,” wrote Dobbin and Kalev. “Despite a few new bells and whistles, courtesy of big data, companies are basically doubling down on the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s—which often make things worse, not better.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that American companies with more than 100 employees barely increased their hiring of women and minorities between 1985 and 2014. According to the data, black men in managerial roles rose from 3 to 3.3 percent since 1985, while white women in management increased from 22 to 29 percent, a figure that's remained stagnant since 2000.
Diversity programs might also be creating a worse working environment for white men. In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers compared the job interview performance of white men at companies with and without stated diversity programs.
“Compared to white men interviewing at the company that did not mention diversity, white men interviewing for the pro-diversity company expected more unfair treatment and discrimination against whites. They also performed more poorly in the job interview, as judged by independent raters. And their cardiovascular responses during the interview revealed that they were more stressed.”
(Photo: Chris Ryan – Getty Images)
Analyzing three decades’ worth of data and interviewing hundreds of managers and executives, Dobbin and Kalev identified some key aspects of diversity programs that make them ineffective, or worse, counterproductive. And perhaps more importantly, their research sheds light on diversity approaches that actually seem to work.
Why Diversity Programs Fail
Diversity training is used in about half of mid-sized companies and nearly all of the Fortune 500. But these programs fail for a number of reasons:
Many programs are mandatory. According to Dobbin and Kalev's research, companies that used mandatory diversity training ultimately employed less employees of color over a 5-year analysis.
Three quarters of companies use negative language in their programs, sending the message of “Discriminate, and the company will pay the price.”
“...threats, or “negative incentives,” don’t win converts.”
Employees might learn to answer a diversity program's questionnaire correctly, but they tend to forget the information after a few days.
“The positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a day or two, and a number of studies suggest that it can activate bias or spark a backlash.”
Some companies make it clear that diversity programs are remedial, particularly after harassment cases or complaints against managers.
“...singling them out implies that they’re the worst culprits. Managers tend to resent that implication and resist the message.”
Effective Ways to Promote Diversity
Dobbin and Kalev propose three principles for encouraging diversity in the workplace:
According to Dobbin and Kalev's findings, managers are happy to engage when programs are voluntary, and when they're asked to help in a positive way.
“When managers actively help boost diversity in their companies, something similar happens: They begin to think of themselves as diversity champions.”
Mentoring programs are a good way for managers to get involved, particularly when white male manager are assigned protégés to mentor – the research suggests these managers are hesitant to informally reach out to young women and minority men.
“Mentoring programs make companies’ managerial echelons significantly more diverse: On average they boost the representation of black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women, and Hispanic and Asian-American men, by 9% to 24%.”
College recruitment programs also seem to be effective.
“Five years after a company implements a college recruitment program targeting female employees, the share of white women, black women, Hispanic women, and Asian-American women in its management rises by about 10%, on average.”
The article cites a study that examined how integrated forces in WWII showed improved relationships over time. Dobbin explained the study's main idea in an interview with global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company:
“People’s stereotypes go away as they get to know people from other groups, especially if they work side by side with them. If you are white and have not been exposed to African-Americans very much, we know from that natural experiment during World War II and subsequent studies that intense exposure through working side by side helps you to individualize people from a group that you are not familiar with and stop stereotyping them.
So if you want to change stereotyping at work, the best way to do it is not to try to train it away, but to expose people to people from other groups in their work lives. In effect, you have to start by integrating the workplace. That’s what’s going to diminish stereotypes.”
Holding managers socially accountable for how they treat employees is another way to promote diversity. In one study, a firm was shown to give smaller raises to black employees, even when they held identical positions and performance ratings to their white coworkers. Then the firm started publicly posting employee's performance ratings and pay raises.
“Once managers realized that employees, peers, and superiors would know which parts of the company favored whites, the gap in raises all but disappeared,” wrote Dobbin and Kalev.
You can check out more about Dobbin and Kalev's research in the video below:
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.