Why Corporate Diversity Programs Don’t Succeed

Despite Motorcycle Accident Lawyer designed to create a more diverse workforce, women and minorities still don’t fare much better than they did 15 years ago.

According to a recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission study, the business landscape still shows a significant lack of female and minority opportunity.

Although gains were made by both groups in the year 2000, no significant gains have happened since then.  The reason for this, according to Frank Dobbin, professor of Sociology at Harvard, and Alexandra Kalev, an associate sociology professor at Tel Aviv University, is that typical big money diversity programs don’t work.

Dobbin and Kalev studied almost three decades of data, involving diversity programs in over 800 businesses, to reach their conclusion.  According to their findings, programs put into place by businesses were designed to avoid discrimination lawsuits, more than they were meant to actually increase workplace diversity.

Here are some more details of the study.


 Mandatory Training Programs Don’t Reduce Bias

Mandatory diversity training, cloaked in negative language, may be creating more problems than it’s supposed to cure.

Dobbin and Kalev cited the nearly 1,000 studies which were designed to gauge diversity training effectiveness.  Short-term results show positive results, but after a few days the training was forgotten.


Managers Use Hiring Tests To Their Advantage

Another negative aspect of diversity programs has been in the use of hiring/skill-based testing.

While meant to level the playing field for potential candidates, managers end up resenting being forced to use hiring tests. They want to be the final word when hiring someone, without having a candidate forced upon them due to test results.

In addition, some hiring managers would only administer the test to people they didn’t really want to hire, or simply ignored the test results and hired who they wanted to.


Performance Ratings Are Misused

Ostensibly, an annual review is accompanied by a rating system to encourage fair compensation and advancement of exceptional employees.  But they can also be used as a way to avoid lawsuits.

Managers are finding other ways to skirt performance ratings.  Results cited by Dobbins and Kalev noted that managers give poor rating to women and minorities, or give a high performance rating to all employees, and then promote who they want.

In businesses using performance ratings, the number of minority managers remained about the same.  The percentage of women managers shrank by 4 percent.


Ineffective Grievance Processes

While supposedly put in place as a final step in combating discrimination, grievance procedures, in many cases have only caused greater opposition.

Workers become reluctant to speak up, for fear of retaliation. Managers, hearing no grievances, end up believing that there are no problems.

Often times, employees believe company policies are the final arbiter in workplace fairness, and find grievance procedures to be excessive.


Diversity Encouragement Policies That DO Work

The research found that positive reinforcement methods for diversity programs are a more effective way for companies looking to promote diversity.

The use of holistic and voluntary training/programs also resulted in better results for diversity.

Getting hiring managers involved in college recruitment programs, targeting women and minorities, has found increasing success in diversity-minded companies.  With hiring managers, college recruitment allows their participation to be voluntary, and gives the task a positive spin.  The task of finding the best minority candidates among a college’s student population, causes hiring managers to take their campus visit more seriously.

Mentoring programs for women and minorities are helping with diversity and advancement goals, when employed. Male executives can be eager to mentor young workers, but not necessarily so when it comes to female or minority mentees.  By implementing a formal mentoring program that matches mentors with a diverse set of proteges, businesses have increased their diversity numbers.

By promoting contact between groups, encouraging social accountability, and accenting the importance of Diversity Managers as a role, researchers note that businesses were able to achieve greater workplace diversity.  Companies such as Pinterest and Airbnb achieved great success in their efforts at greater workplace diversity by implementing these programs.

When programs that browbeat companies with diversity training and negative images have been supplanted with more positive approaches, workplace diversity has thrived.  In the words of Dobbin and Kalev, “The very good news is that we know what does work, we just need to do more of it.”

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