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How to Judge the Training

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Diversity training and similar initiatives have positive effects when:

¿ Training is voluntary.

¿ The focus is on structural change, such as increased mentoring and rotations that give people a shot at high-profile assignments.

¿ The motivation is to advance business goals and to open up new markets.

¿ Companies set targets and hold executives responsible for meeting those targets.

Diversity training and other initiatives have negative effects when:

¿ Training is mandatory and emphasizes the risk of discrimination lawsuits and threats; for example, downloading government regulations to educate managers on how not to discriminate.

¿ Programs involve a few brief training workshops or online sessions that often focus on "sensitivity training" and interpersonal attitude change.

¿ The training emphasizes social justice goals and the need to redress historical wrongs.

Source: "Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies" by Alexandra Kalev, the University of California at Berkeley; Frank Dobbin, Harvard University; and Erin Kelly, the University of Minnesota.

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