Human Resource Management

HRM Guide USA HRM Guide UK HRM Guide World About HRM Guide Student HRM Jobs/Careers HR Updates Facebook
Search all of HRM Guide

Diversity Training Doesn't Work

September 14 2006 - A new study shows that diversity training programs have failed to eliminate bias and increase the number of minorities in management, despite the fact that many corporations have spent increasing amounts of money on this area.

In a paper to be published in the American Sociological Review, Frank Dobbin, professor of sociology in Harvard University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Alexandra Kalev of the University of California, Berkeley, and Erin Kelly of the University of Minnesota conclude that such efforts to mitigate managerial bias ultimately fail. In contrast, programmes that establish responsibility for diversity, such as equal opportunity staff positions or diversity task forces, have proved more effective.

Frank Dobbin said:

"For the past 40 years companies have tried to increase diversity, spending millions of dollars a year on any number of programs without actually stopping to determine whether or not their efforts have been worth it. Certainly in the case of diversity training, the answer is no. The only truly effective way to increase the presence of minorities and women in managerial positions is through programs that create organizational responsibility. If no one is specifically charged with the task of increasing diversity, then the buck inevitably gets passed ad infinitum. To increase diversity, executives must treat it like any other business goal."

This study is described as the first to examine the efficacy of diversity programmes based on the actual change in minority representation in management positions. The authors examined reports submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by private sector establishments and conducted a sample survey on the history of diversity programmes within the companies concerned.

These were categorized into three groups: organizational responsibility programmes such as task forces or staff positions; managerial bias programmes such as diversity training; and programmes that created networking or mentoring opportunities.

The data showed that organizational responsibility programmes were the most effective. Diversity task forces yielded the greatest results, increasing the proportion of white women in management positions by 14 per cent, black women by 30 per cent, and black men by 10 per cent.

The study found that diversity training aimed at reducing managerial bias may actually increase it. Programmes in this group were followed by a 6 per cent decline in the proportion of black women in management. White women benefited modestly with a 6 per cent increase. Social networking improved representation of white women, but lowered that of black men. Mentoring programs showed a strong positive effect for black women. Across the board, diversity programmes benefited white women the most, followed by black women, with black men benefiting the least.

Frank Dobbin commented:

"Although the likelihood of minorities holding management positions has increased, the raw percentages of minorities in management remain quite low."

HRM Guide makes minimal use of cookies, including some placed to facilitate features such as Google Search. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to the use of cookies. Learn more here

Custom Search
  Contact  HRM Guide Privacy Policy
Copyright © 1997-2024 Alan Price and HRM Guide contributors. All rights reserved.