A new study published in the Harvard Business Review finds that most workplace diversity programs — including mandatory diversity training programs — actually harm the very people such programs are usually meant to protect: racial minorities and women.
Harvard University professor Frank Dobbin and Tel Aviv University professor Alexandra Kalev coauthored the study, titled “Why Diversity Programs Fail.” Dobbin and Kalev analyzed three decades worth of data from more than 800 firms and interviewed “hundreds of line managers and executives at length.”
The authors found that mandatory diversity training programs, hiring tests and grievance reporting systems all “make firms less diverse, not more.”
The study notes that diversity training programs are used by almost half of all midsize companies and almost all Fortune 500 companies.
“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%,” the authors note.