Tag Archives: diversity

Why Diversity Programs Do Not Work

Research results show, that diversity training programs do not work.

The conclusion does not contradict thousands studies of the last decades, which proved, that training teach people only to fill self-assessment questionnaires the right ways. The number of women and minorities’ members employed actually shrink already within the next five years following the training (Dobbin and Kalev, 59). Neither hiring skills’ assessment tests can improve the situation: if not sabotaged by hiring managers, which apply the tests selectively, the test results are cherry-picked by decision makers, this only amplifying bias. Neither can performance ratings, often low-balling women and minorities, change the statistics. Since 1985 black men have barely gained ground in corporate management’, white women haven’s progressed since 2000 (ibid). The study also confirmed once again, that doing and practicing skills works much better than theoretical awareness and role-play simulations, torn out of the actual context and real time.

Changing training policies really matters: voluntary programs produce much better results. Compared to the compulsive, ordered from the top training, voluntary training is free from the resistance of angry managers, accused in discrimination, and work much better for the purpose as highly-motivating goal to make the difference.

Instead of outlawing bias by control and punishment, engaging managers doing the right things, like participating in recruitment campaigns and mentoring programs, lead to diversity-oriented hiring. Contacting the real people, speaking with the candidates work better, than strategically communicated guidelines: the human, face-to-face contact speak for the diversity the best way. Social accountability and transparency of management decisions, appealing to human ethics of equality and justice, also support any diversity task forces’ strategies the best way.

Any tool proves to be highly effective, if it is based on the same principle: ‘working toward a common goal as equals” (ibid, 58). Agile cultures and self-managed teams working as equals over the same project bring different people together.

Therefore designing a bias-free organization is quite realistic: changing the core process support the change of attitudes and behaviors, which often is the up-hill work of ‘improving people’s inclination to be inclusive [which] is incredibly hard…bias affects everyone, regardless of their awareness and good intentions’ (ibid, 64-65). The range of bias is enormous and ‘outsmarting’ them by training is hardly possible (Burell, 75); neither eliminating all situations which could allow bias is realistic. But changing the way HOW the things are DONE here can help a lot with changing people’s everyday experiences and further beliefs, values and attitudes.

What is conclusion?

First, traditional training approach in regard to culture change bring poor results.

Second, other ways of people development, like learning by doing, are highly effective compared to traditional ways.

Third is that the basic concept of inclusiveness is equality – treating each other as equals – brings us to reinventing organizations as self-managing and agile, or to flat and matrix structures.

Bohnet, I. Designing a Bias-Free Organization , an interview with Iris Bohnet, Harvard Business Review, 2016.

Burell, L. We Just Can’t Handle Diversity.Harvard Business Review, 2016.

Dobbin, F., Kalev, A. Why Diversity Programs Fail. Harvard Business Review, 2016.

The other lane


“Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?”

The simple question Naomi Karten (2009) put starting the preface of her book on communicating change is a marvelous metaphor stirring up the depths of our everyday swimming.

How often we really dare to drive the other side?

Why should we? – perhaps we are looking for something else we are used to – like left driving -‘an eye-opening experience’.

The quest of the mind, tired of endless sea horizon on board, rise everybody to take a window seat at the moment of departing or arriving to the harbor – the glance should be attracted to something like a chaotic line of the industrial buildings, dirty quays, ship yards. We go home immediately after the sun is down and forget the dawn as soon as the sun is up.

Taking the other lane – the other forest road instead of a highway – is a slow and simple experience, but there is a chance of tasting the local bakery treats or wild berries instead of a hotdog and take-away coffee. Bigger is better?-Less is more.

Sometimes we are put into the other lane – forced into change by finding ourselves in other culture – working globally. We are put to drive left instead of right. The possibility of being smashed brings us to the wisdom of learning new habits, but why should we start in the rush-hour downtown? The traffic is traffic – but only three colours signal of what to do and where to go. Any high-speed broad highway ends up at the toll station or the airport to fly home. – Have you really seen the best of it in the five stars?..

Here we are now for the beauty of it.