Sunday, April 29, 2007

Employee Diversity Training Doesn't Work

One of my favorite episodes of The Office is Diversity Day (you can view a clip of an absurd stereotype game here). In Employee Diversity Training Doesn't Work, Time Magazine writer, Lisa Cullen explores the results of sociologists work resulting that diversity training doesn't make a workplace more diverse.

Frank Dobbin of Harvard, Alexandra Kalev of the University of California, Berkeley, and Erin Kelly of the University of Minnesota sifted through decades of federal employment statistics provided by companies. Their analysis found no real change in the number of women and minority managers after companies began diversity training. That's right--none. Networking didn't do much, either.
So guess what worked? Mentorship. Let's say it again: mentorship at work and mentorship in life are powerful ways of building community two-people at a time. Mentorship helps where large-scale training fails.

But why doesn't diversity training work? A few theories:
Social psychologists have many theories to explain why diversity training doesn't work as intended. Studies show that any training generates a backlash and that mandatory diversity training in particular may even activate a bias. Researchers also see evidence of "irresistible stereotypes," or biases so deeply ingrained that they simply can't be taught away in a one-day workshop.