Corporate Diversity Programs Still Suck


"Hi, I'm Michael Scott and I'm in charge of Dunder Mifflin Paper Products here in Scranton, Pennsylvania. But I'm also the founder of Diversity Tomorrow, because 'today is almost over.' Abraham Lincoln once said, 'If you are a racist, I will attack you with the North,' and those are the principles I carry with me into the workplace."

Do corporate diversity programs work as advertised? The Boston Globe looks at the literature:

A paper published last year by the psychologist Elizabeth Levy Paluck of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and the Yale University political scientist Donald Green comprehensively surveyed the literature on prejudice reduction measures and found no empirical support for the idea that diversity training programs change attitudes or behavior. Similarly, a 2008 literature review paper by Carol Kulik of the University of South Australia and Loriann Roberson of Columbia University found that, on the question of changing behavior, there were few trustworthy studies—and decidedly mixed results among those.

The studies that Paluck and Green had to work with "often comprised little more than asking participants to fill out surveys on their own attitudes." Recently, though, some sociologists from the Universities of Arizona and Minnesota conducted a much meatier analysis:

As a measure of program success, they looked at the number of women and minorities in a company's managerial ranks—a much more concrete metric than the surveys of employee attitudes that many other studies relied on. The researchers drew on 31 years of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data, specifically the annual reports that companies file detailing their racial and gender makeup. The sociologists then surveyed 829 of those companies on what diversity programs they had and when they instituted them. The results were described in a 2006 study, and in another paper that Kalev and Dobbin are currently writing.

The researchers found that while diversity training was by far the most popular approach, it was also the least effective at getting companies to hire and promote women and minorities. Some training programs were more effective than others: Voluntary programs were better than mandatory ones, and those that focused on the threat of bias and harassment lawsuits were worse than those that did not. But even the better programs led only to marginal changes. And those that were mandatory or discussed lawsuits—the vast majority of the programs the researchers examined—slightly reduced the number of women and minorities in management. Required training and legalistic training both make people resentful, the authors suggest, and likely to rebel against what they've heard.

[Via The Progressive Review.]

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  1. That was the worst Meatmen record.

    1. I’m saddened that no one else seems to appreciate this comment.

  2. Sensitivity training is just a CYA move for the company: “We’re not making a hostile work environment! We told them that groping women was bad!” It has little to do with actual “training.”

    1. Dingdingding!!

      An additional benefit is the satisfaction the program presenters get in force-feeding the unwilling their weltanschauung, not unlike that felt by those running self-criticism sessions in Maoist China.

    2. Of course. For anyone who isn’t aware of this, the sole reason we have giant HR departments now rather than a little old lady in a room labeled, “Personnel”, is litigation, much of which is based on anti-discrimination laws, the ADA, etc. HR is intended to cut off the company from its employees’ bad acts and to ensure that files are complete so that terminating people doesn’t automatically mean a losing lawsuit.

      1. a little old lady

        Please watch the sexist and ageist language there, mister. it’s “Petite Woman of Experience”

        1. . . .wearing a visor. Very cranky, too, and she secretly badmouths you and the company while applicants are filling out paperwork in her office.

          1. I’d call all this racial sensitivity training “lip service,” but that would be racist.

        2. Pro Lib PM, tell your client that he should not even allude to a woman’s physical stature or age. And for that fucking matter, his/her gender. Thank you, femifisting.com.

          1. Ultimately, these laws and self-imposed rules will drive us all to telecommuting. Which is where we want to be, anyway. So, in the long run, we win!

  3. Jesse, didn’t you get your job because of a diversity program? Reason wanted to be equitable and hired you under the no too small of a dick program.

      1. But funny. But cheap.

        measure this must be a small man.

        1. I’ve been called funny, not cheap but never a man.

  4. Not to worry, the general public will welcome mandatory insurance with open arms.

  5. Diversity as a goal will never go away, to do so would eliminate the need for the people who promote diversity! These programs are useless, ridiculous and a complete waste of time.

    1. I think we should focus on making our nations ghettos more diverse. Right now, they are anything but.

      Now what would we call this movement, gents?

  6. Required training and legalistic training both make people resentful, the authors suggest, and likely to rebel against what they’ve heard.

    I agree!

    1. “Required training and legalistic training both make people resentful, the authors suggest, and likely to rebel against what they’ve heard.” Ok, we all grasp we mean white men and you know we have all had a hard time in the corporate world.

  7. What is stopping women and minorities from creating corporations?

    Does the process involve a paper bag test? Or a genital exam?

    1. I hereby volunteer to help launch Jessica Alba Enterprises, Inc.

  8. But it can be so entertaining. When I worked at Lockheed, they had the most hilarious training videos of what not to do.

  9. Huh, so training people to be afraid of women and minorities is harmful to women and minorities. Who would have guessed?

  10. MLK correctly stated that skin color has no bearing on the characteristics and abilities of each human being. Yet, companies, universities, and other institutions strive for a diverse work environment despite the stereotyping required to achieve that. People of different races don’t necessarily have unique life experiences despite Judge Sotomayor’s insistence to the contrary. A black child’s skin color doesn’t confirm he has lived the black life, especially since he may be the child of a doctor and a lawyer and grew up in an upper-class neighborhood.

    Searching for diversity of skill, intelligence, and ability is the better solution. And contrary to what the left thinks, that will NOT result in a white-only workforce as plenty of minorities are also very smart and talented.

    1. Don’t you find this thought a little troubling? “A black child’s skin color doesn’t confirm he has lived the black life”

      1. No because what is the black life? Don’t be caught up with the color in the term, when the media refers to the black life it isn’t talking about living life as a black man, it means going through experiences that only happen to minorities. They don’t consider that some whites have also had the same experiences and some minorities have not.

        1. It actually has nothing to do with minority status either, more about growing up in an inner city with less than the median income.

          1. “it means going through experiences that only happen to minorities.” Some experiences you can walk away from but others you wear. Very few can change their race or gender.

  11. I went to a company that had “training” that included an African American “trainer” stating that all whites, by virtue of their color, had it better than blacks. Life history, experiences, meant nothing.

    All I can say is that I’m glad I wasn’t in that class, or their would have been an assault (and / or a lawsuit, had I the self-control to simply leave).

    1. We had a batty professor in library school come speak to one of our classes. Her argument was that if you were white, there was no way you could provide service to someone of another race. Any library that didn’t have a giant staff that could provide someone from every race, every ethnicity, and a speaker of every language that might ever come into the library, that institution was deliberately underserving their patrons.

      She said all this with out a trace of irony and without acknowledging the absurdity of her argument.

      The sickening part was that half the lily-white class was nodding along in agreement.

      1. Wow. Maybe my problem getting a job is that I’m not stupid enough.

        1. Have you tried choking yourself? You can shave off about 50 IQ points in a single session if done properly. You might also look into huffing gasoline or Freon.

          1. Smart and older than 40 is a definite handicap in this job market. Huffing, eh? I’d do it if the nannies hadn’t succeeded in banning candy-flavored gasoline.

          2. “I said choke yourself; now lean forward and choke yourself!”

    2. There are lots of things that come into play when one needs to discuss about how to reduce or what the measures to be taken to reduce prejudice are. In my most arguable opinion, I have always felt the need for more detailed studies for getting to know what these were. Meanwhile the study or the research conducted through training programs such as diversities seems like a good idea after all. That may very well change attitudes as well as behaviors!

  12. I got a corporate gig in 1999 and they made us watch a sexual harassment video. Judging by the giant hair and shoulder pads it must have been 10 years old. It was hilarious. Of course it was all white guys misbehaving.

    Glad to report about 5 years later there was some girl/girl action, some harassers of color (Indian dudes for some reason, or are they honorary whites?). Some sisters were ogling some guy’s butt.

    This stuff is all for lawsuits no? “We made the morons watch a diversity video!”

    1. was some girl/girl action

      ?? I harassed a girl but she wanted it ??

  13. I really enjoy interacting with the people who do diversity training for a living, it is incredibly entertaining to me. the best part is watch the other people slowly get more irritated witht he time being wasted and trying to increase everyones uncomfortable factor…but my company screwed me over, now I have to do my diversity training through some online crap. It would be terrible I am sure, but I’m not actually going to do it until they threaten me or link it to pay somehow, peaceful non-compliance can be quite effective.

  14. I saw for the first time last week, in our common break area (mind you, the company is closing up shop and we’ll all out of here by July) a glossy magazine called Diversity. A publication dedicated soley to advocating “diversity”. It made me want to puke. I am all for diversity, but, of course, they do not mean diversity at all. They mean divisiveness and targeted exclusion and hyphenation which highlights all of our collective differences, ensuring that we will continue to evaluate each other by meaningless,superficial distinctions like race, heritage, religion, sex, lifestyle and so on. Precisely the opposite of the “content of our character” of Dr. King.

    1. But institutionalized as a permanent plank of the Democratic Party. They’ve twisted and defiled King’s words.

      1. It’s worse than that. “Diversity” is a sacred cow if not a religion in itself. All must show obeisance or be shunned by polite and enlightened society.

      2. The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King is Dead.

        Long Live Diversity!

        1. Quick Story:

          I was hauld befor HR and charged with workplace harassment. As I stood waiting outside the director’s office, there was this guy who kept looking at me with a very worried expression. When I got in to see the director, it took less than 90 seconds to demonstrate that the allegation was a crock.

          But a few weeks later I had to go down to HR on another matter (excersizing stock options), but the the worry-faced guy was there again with his worried guy face again, but I think he assumed I was there about discrimination again. And I though – I get it. He’s a fucking fluffer!

          1. Somedays I spell like shit.

            1. How dare you! My grammer, sintacks, and speeling are impeckaball.

              And I Have that luvlee aeroma, two!

          2. I’m worried that the Palin guy will offer to wipe my ass again after I shit.

    1. Thanks, Sugarfree – this alone was worth the trip:

      her heroic crusade against childhood obesity

      Yes, dear God, with the people and institutions who stood in her way, it’s a miracle she survived the ordeal, much less made the extensive progress in research and results in the field that she has made, singlehandedly. God bless you, Michelle Obama, God bless you!

  15. no empirical support for the idea that diversity training programs change attitudes or behavior.

    And team-building is for suckers.

    Next on uselesshelpful reviews of “the literature”: “Ignoring Poor Performance Leads to Poor Results and Strained Work Relationships”.

  16. because of the hat

  17. I wonder if Lawsuit centric training doesn’t also increase fear in a company. If you scare people about potential lawsuits, then a common sense reaction to that fear might be to hire fewer minorities or women. If there are fewer women and minorities in the company, then there is less of a chance that something you inadvertently say or do will end up getting you sued.

    I’m not saying this is the right thing to do… but it could possibly be another explanation for why this type of training backfires.

    1. That is unquestionably one of the unintended consequences of “diversity” and “anti-discrimination laws.”

      Anyone making a hiring decision will always have in the back of their mind “Am I hiring a lawsuit here? What if he/she/it doesn’t work out – will I be able to fire them without getting tarred as a racist?”

      A decision not to hire a protected class member from a pool of qualified candidates is much safer/easier to defend than a decision to fire a protected class member.

  18. “Do corporate diversity programs work as advertised?”

    No, but they do create jobs for people who would otherwise be unemployable, plus they let people who have boring jobs get to goof around with each other for a few hours, and maybe score a free lunch or two.

    “You know, I’ve always wanted to fist-fuck a Negro chick in the break room.”
    “You know, she and her people have come a long way since 1865.”

      “You know, she and her people have come a long way since 1865. I still want to fist-fuck her in the break room, though.”

      I think that’s how it actually goes.

      1. How big is your fist? That breakroom of a pussy must be huge…(echo) huge….huge…huge….

  20. Diversity sucks!

  21. At the last corporate job I held before I started this company, I managed to hold off the diversity training bastards for more than a year before the day I finally quit. I quit for various other reasons, but had I stuck around it was close to turning ugly. I was the last person in the organization who hadn’t sat throught the dog and pony show and I was dead set on not submitting myself to it.

    They were well within their rights of making it a condition of my employment, I will admit, and if I wanted to continue working there I would have eventually had to sit through it. I just personally felt that it was demeaning to everyone involved – both the hypothetically oppressed and the hypotehtically oppressing – and since I knew I was going to quit eventually I made it into a game to see how long I could hold out and come up with different excuses or absences. It was fun.

    Drove the “Diversity Director” crazy, I did. She couldn’t fathom how I could have principled objections and not just be a closeted bigot.

    1. a West Texas boy bigoted?

      1. Funny, huh? Just like the Diversity Director being a black lady. Who’d a thunk either?

        1. Omg, they still have black women in West Texas and they have jobs.

  22. Come on. This post is flawed! What better way to change people’s attitudes than the threat of force? My formerly mouthy children have the black eyes to prove it.

    1. You changed their overt behavior, Jamie. You didn’t change their attitudes.

  23. Diversity training is the perfect response to diversity laws:

    Both are meaningless and ineffective, and are engaged in purely for the sake of appearances.

    1. Report to HR for reeducation, counselor.

  24. For diversity programs to be effective, we really need to push the benefits of diversity in order for people to fully embrace it.

  25. Diversity as a goal will never go away, to do so would eliminate the need for the people who promote diversity! These programs are useless, ridiculous and a complete waste of time clasamente fotbal

  26. I’ve been thrown into so many situations where I had to develop a solution on the fly working off another developers code?so I can certainly relate to the tedious yet thrilling feeling of getting things patched up just in time. pariuri sportive

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  29. sorry but i don’t know why appear two times.

  30. That is unquestionably one of the unintended consequences of “diversity” and “anti-discrimination laws.”Drove the “Diversity Director” crazy, I did. She couldn’t fathom how I could have principled objections and not just be a closeted bigot.

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