Why Diversity is Important?
It shouldn’t be surprising that most diversity programs aren’t increasing diversity.
There are numerous diversity tactics that do move the needle, such as recruiting initiatives, mentoring programs, and diversity task forces. They have also expanded training and other diversity programs. Task forces are the important factor of diversity programs.
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. “If diversity management is strategic to the organization,” he used to say, diversity training must be mandatory, and management has to make it clear that “if you can’t deal with that, then we have to ask you to leave.” But five years after instituting required training for managers, companies saw no improvement in the proportion of white women, black men, and Hispanics in management, and the share of black women actually decreased by 9%, on average, while the ranks of Asian-American men and women shrank by 4% to 5%.
That’s why interventions such as targeted college recruitment, mentoring programs, self-managed teams, and task forces have boosted diversity in businesses.
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.
Corporate diversity task forces help promote social accountability.
Diversity managers cost money, but task forces use existing workers, so they’re a lot cheaper than some of the things that fail, such as mandatory training.
Only about 15% of firms have special college recruitment programs for women and minorities, and only 10% have mentoring programs.
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 problem is, organizations are trying to reduce bias with the same kinds of programs they’ve been using since the 1960s.
Diversity managers, too, boost inclusion by creating social accountability.
When managers actively help boost diversity in their companies, something similar happens: They begin to think of themselves as diversity champions. They’re designed to preempt lawsuits by policing managers’ decisions and actions.
And the usual tools—diversity training, hiring tests, performance ratings, grievance systems—tend to make things worse, not better. They engage managers in solving the problem, increase contact with women and minority workers, and promote social accountability.
Some of the most effective solutions aren’t even designed with diversity in mind. Take college recruitment programs targeting women and minorities.
Businesses started caring a lot more about diversity after a series of high-profile lawsuits rocked the financial industry.