Single guy here in need of good company

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After Wall Street firms repeatedly had to shell out millions to settle discrimination lawsuits, businesses started to get serious about their efforts to increase diversity. And the usual tools—diversity training, hiring tests, performance ratings, grievance systems—tend to make things worse, not better. But as lab studies show, this kind of force-feeding can activate bias and encourage rebellion.

However, in their analysis the authors uncovered numerous diversity tactics that do move the needle, such as recruiting initiatives, mentoring programs, and diversity task forces. They engage managers in solving the problem, increase contact with women and minority workers, and promote social ability. Some of these efforts make matters worse, not better. People rebel against rules that threaten their autonomy.

Businesses started caring a lot Single guy here in need of good company about diversity after a series of high-profile lawsuits rocked the financial industry. They have also expanded training and other diversity programs. Although the proportion of managers at U. The s were even worse in investment banks though that industry is shrinking, which complicates the analysis. Among all U. Even in Silicon Valley, where many leaders tout the need to increase diversity for both business and social justice reasons, bread-and-butter tech jobs remain dominated by white men.

Firms have long relied on diversity training to reduce bias on the job, hiring tests and performance ratings to limit it in recruitment and promotions, and grievance systems to give employees a way to challenge managers. Yet laboratory studies show that this kind of force-feeding can activate bias rather than stamp it out. As social scientists have found, people often rebel against rules to assert their autonomy.

Yet this approach also flies in the face of nearly everything we know about how to motivate people to make changes. Do people who undergo training usually shed their biases? Researchers have been examining that question since before World War II, in nearly a thousand studies.

It turns out that while people are easily taught to respond correctly to a questionnaire about bias, they soon forget the right answers. The positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a day or two, and a of studies suggest that it can activate bias or spark a backlash. Nonetheless, nearly half of midsize companies use it, as do nearly all the Fortune Many firms see adverse effects. One reason is that three-quarters use negative messages in their training. Another reason is that about three-quarters of firms with training still follow the dated advice of the late diversity guru R.

Roosevelt Thomas Jr. Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance —and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward. Research from the University of Toronto reinforces our findings: In one study white subjects read a brochure critiquing prejudice toward blacks. When people felt pressure to agree with it, the reading strengthened their bias against blacks. When they felt the choice was theirs, the reading reduced bias.

Companies too often al that training is remedial. The diversity manager at a national beverage company told us that the top brass uses it to deal with problem groups. Managers tend to resent that implication and resist the message.

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This kind of thing still happens. When we interviewed the new HR director at a West Coast food company, he said he found that white managers were making only strangers—most of them minorities—take supervisor tests and hiring white friends without testing them. But even managers who test everyone applying for a position may ignore the.

Investment banks and consulting firms build tests into their job interviews, asking people to solve math and scenario-based problems on the spot. While studying this practice, Kellogg professor Lauren Rivera played a fly on the wall during hiring meetings at one firm.

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She found that the team paid little attention when white men blew the math test but close attention when women and blacks did. Because decision makers deliberately or not cherry-pickedthe testing amplified bias rather than quashed it.

Managers made only strangers—most of them minorities—take tests and hired white friends without testing them. There are ificant declines among white and Asian-American women—groups with high levels of education, which typically score well on standard managerial tests.

Companies sued for discrimination often claim that their performance rating systems prevent biased treatment. But studies show that raters tend to lowball women and minorities in performance reviews. And some managers give everyone high marks to avoid hassles with employees or to keep their options open when handing out promotions. This last tactic is meant to identify and rehabilitate biased managers. About half of midsize and large firms have systems through which employees can challenge pay, promotion, and termination decisions.

But many managers—rather than change their own behavior or address discrimination by others—try to get even with or belittle employees who complain. We see this a lot in our interviews. Still, most employers feel they need some sort of system to intercept complaints, if only because judges like them. They apply three basic principles: engage managers in solving the problem, expose them to people from different groups, and encourage social ability for change. So, if you prompt them to act in ways that support a particular view, their opinions shift toward that view.

When managers actively help boost diversity in their companies, something similar happens: They begin to think of themselves as diversity champions. Take college recruitment programs targeting women and minorities. Our interviews suggest that managers willingly participate when invited. Managers who make college visits say they take their charge seriously. They are determined to come back with strong candidates from underrepresented groups—female engineers, for instance, or African-American management trainees. Cognitive dissonance soon kicks in—and managers who were wishy-washy about diversity become converts.

The effects are striking. Mentoring is another way to engage managers and chip away at their biases. While white men tend to find mentors on their own, women and minorities more often need help from formal programs. Once organizations try them out, though, the upside becomes clear.

With guidance from a court-appointed external task force, executives in the North America group got involved in recruitment and mentoring initiatives for professionals and middle managers, working specifically toward measurable goals for minorities. Even top leaders helped to recruit and mentor, and talent-sourcing partners were required to broaden their recruitment efforts. These changes brought important gains.

This began a virtuous cycle. Today, Coke looks like a different company. Evidence that contact between groups can lessen bias first came to light in an unplanned experiment Single guy here in need of good company the European front during World War II. The U. High casualties left General Dwight Eisenhower understaffed, and he asked for black volunteers for combat duty.

When Harvard sociologist Samuel Stouffer, on leave at the War Department, surveyed troops on their racial attitudes, he found that whites whose companies had been ed by black platoons showed dramatically lower racial animus and greater willingness to work alongside blacks than those whose companies remained segregated.

Stouffer concluded that whites fighting alongside blacks came to see them as soldiers like themselves first and foremost. Business practices that generate this kind of contact across groups yield similar. Take self-managed teams, which allow people in different roles and functions to work together on projects as equals. Such teams increase contact among diverse types of people, because specialties within firms are still largely divided along racial, ethnic, and gender lines. For example, women are more likely than men to work in sales, whereas white men are more likely to be in tech jobs and management, and black and Hispanic men are more likely to be in production.

Why can mentoring, self-managed teams, and cross-training increase diversity without the backlash prompted by mandatory training? In the explicitly pro-diversity company, subjects expected discrimination against whites, showed cardiovascular distress, and did markedly worse in the taped interview. Rotating management trainees through departments is another way to increase contact.

Typically, this kind of cross-training allows people to try their hand at various jobs and deepen their understanding of the whole organization. But it also has a positive impact on diversity, because it exposes both department he and trainees to a wider variety of people. About a third of U. Though college recruitment and mentoring have a bigger impact on diversity—perhaps because they activate engagement in the diversity mission and create intergroup contact—every bit helps.

Self-managed teams and cross-training have had more positive effects than mandatory diversity training, performance evaluations, job testing, or grievance procedures, which are supposed to promote diversity. The third tactic, encouraging social ability, plays on our need to look good in the eyes of those around us. It is nicely illustrated by an experiment conducted in Israel.

Teachers in training graded identical compositions attributed to Jewish students with Ashkenazic names European heritage or with Sephardic names African or Asian heritage. Sephardic students typically come from poorer families and do worse in school. On average, the teacher trainees gave the Ashkenazic essays Bs and the Sephardic essays Ds.

The difference evaporated, however, when trainees were told that they would discuss their grades with peers. The idea that they might have to explain their decisions led them to judge the work by its quality. So Castilla suggested transparency to activate social ability. Once managers realized that employees, peers, and superiors would know which parts of the company favored whites, the gap in raises all but disappeared. Corporate diversity task forces help promote social ability.

CEOs usually assemble these teams, inviting department he to volunteer and including members of underrepresented groups. Every quarter or two, task forces look at diversity s for the whole company, for business units, and for departments to figure out what needs attention. After investigating where the problems are—recruitment, career bottlenecks, and so on—task force members come up with solutions, which they then take back to their departments.

Deloitte has seen how powerful social ability can be. In Single guy here in need of good company, Mike Cook, who was then the CEO, decided to try to stanch the hemorrhaging of female associates.

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The task force got each office to monitor the career progress of its women and set its own goals to address local problems. An external advisory council issued annual progress reports, and individual managers chose change metrics to add to their own performance ratings. Task forces are the trifecta of diversity programs.

In addition to promoting ability, they engage members who might have ly been cool to diversity projects and increase contact among the women, minorities, and white men who participate. Once it was clear that top managers were watching, women started to get more premier asments. Diversity managers, too, boost inclusion by creating social ability.

So simply having a diversity manager who could ask them questions prompts managers to step back and consider everyone who is qualified instead of hiring or promoting the first people who come to mind. Those are the gains after ing for both effective and ineffective programs they put in place.

Leading companies like Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Facebook, and Google have placed big bets on ability in the past couple of years. We should know in a few years if that moves the needle for them. Strategies for controlling bias—which drive most diversity efforts—have failed spectacularly since they were introduced to promote equal opportunity. Black men have barely gained ground in corporate management since The s sum it up. Your organization will become less diverse, not more, if you require managers to go to diversity training, try to regulate their hiring and promotion decisions, and put in a legalistic grievance system.

You have 2 free article s left this month. You are reading your last free article for this month. Subscribe for unlimited access. Human resource management. Why Diversity Programs Fail. And what works better by Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev. Williams To bring more women into the sector, companies should try a lean start-up approach.

Thomas IBM expanded minority markets dramatically by promoting diversity in its own workforce. The result: a virtuous circle of growth and progress. A version of this article appeared in the July—August issue pp. on Human resource management or related topics Talent management and Diversity.

Single guy here in need of good company

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