Friday, January 05, 2018

Diversity Training

Two recent stories at Campus Reform shed some light on what should be obvious about mandatory diversity training:  it doesn't work, either in education or in business.

Let's tackle education first.  Yes, I admit I'm really stretching here, using one data point from which to extrapolate to an entire population.  But if you can find a study showing that certain programs "work", then please mention them in the comments.
A professor at East Carolina University recently discovered that the diversity course she teaches isn’t actually “effective” in changing students’ racial or gender biases.

Dr. Michele Stacey, who teaches criminal justice at ECU, assessed the efficacy of the school’s diversity course by surveying 288 criminal justice students’ attitudes towards women and minorities both before and after taking the course, publishing her findings in the latest issue of the Journal of Criminal Justice Education.

Race, Gender, and Special Populations in the Criminal Justice System is a three-credit course that is required for the ECU major and minor in criminal justice. Aimed at educating students about the challenges of minorities in the criminal justice system, the course covers a variety of topics, including Native Americans and African Americans.

But while the course is also offered in the spirit of helping to reduce student’s bias towards these groups, Stacey discovered something interesting.

After assessing the bias of students before and after the course—using prompts such as “a woman should worry less about their rights and more about becoming good wives and mothers” and “if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites”—Stacey found that the course hadn’t altered students’ attitudes towards race or gender.

Only their attitudes towards homosexuality had changed, she found.

“The results of the t-test indicate that the only significant change over time in the scales was in attitudes toward homosexuality generally,” Stacey reports. “This would suggest that the course has no effect on [attitudes towards women], symbolic racism, or attitudes toward gays/lesbians specifically.”

“Overall, the results of the current study suggest that diversity courses do not have a significant impact on attitudes toward racial and gender minorities among criminal justice students,” she concludes.
Perhaps part of the reason for that is explained by the Harvard Business Review in its article about diversity in the workplace:
Administrators across the country are folding to student demands for more diversity, but a recent study out of Harvard suggests that mandatory diversity trainings are actually making schools less diverse, not more.

A survey in the current edition of the Harvard Business Review based on over three decades’ worth of data from more than 800 U.S. businesses shows that most diversity programs aren’t actually increasing diversity. In fact, the data suggest that diversity programs like the ones seen all over America’s campuses are having exactly the opposite effect.

The study’s authors, sociology professors Frank Dobbin of Harvard and Alexandra Kalev of Tel Aviv University, tracked the effect of diversity trainings on the actual growth of minority populations in businesses over a five-year period, but found that “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 percent, on average, while the ranks of Asian-American men and women shrank by 4 percent to 5 percent.”

The reason, the Review argues, is that managers, business executives, and employees in general are less likely to agree with a position if it is presented to them under mandatory circumstances. Indeed, the Review is not alone in its thinking, citing three other studies supporting the claim that compulsory diversity trainings are met with “resistance and anger” and that “many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterwards.”
That doesn't surprise me at all.  In general, people don't like being called racists (or most other -ist, for that matter), and let's be blunt, that's what happens in so-called diversity trainings.  I recall the 3 hours I spent in "unconscious bias" training, only to learn 2 years later that the test used to find such bias is deeply flawed.  As I stated at the latter link, "I've already identified why it (the implicit bias test) became the darling--because it told leftists exactly what they wanted to hear."


Auntie Ann said...

Here's a more cynical take...Though the diversity trainers do not have less diversity as a goal, it is a beneficial outcome for themselves. If their training makes businesses less diverse and more prone to disputes, they will get more business and get called in more often resulting in guaranteed employment for life! The worse things get, the better they do.

Ellen K said...

I don't think anyone likes being called names and that includes the name "bigot." But that is what most diversity training programs do-they take everyday boorish behavior and elevate it to the level of a crime. I'm not excusing racist behavior, but saying that such "hatespeech" is the biproduct of a generation that has never been taught manners, decency and basic consideration for others. This is the endgame of the self-centered attitudes of "me first" and concentration on the individual needs. As my mom always said "You're not the belly button of the universe."

This brings to mind an episode of The Bob Newhart Show. He's listening to his patient, a black man, complain about the hatred and racism he witnessed in a white man's eyes. Then Bob says "But you did hit his car.....while it was in his driveway...." The patient replied "You mean he doesn't hate me because I'm black?" And Bob says "No, he hates you because you are mean." In short, it's not always about race, gender, religion or income---sometimes people are just jerks.