Woke Agenda

DEI Training: Harmful, Phony, And Expensive

In a NYT op-ed, Jesse Singal says that DEI training sessions are expensive, and either don’t work or are even counterproductive. Excerpt:

“Over the years, social scientists who have conducted careful reviews of the evidence base for diversity trainings have frequently come to discouraging conclusions. Though diversity trainings have been around in one form or another since at least the 1960s, few of them are ever subjected to rigorous evaluation, and those that are mostly appear to have little or no positive long-term effects. The lack of evidence is “disappointing,” wrote Elizabeth Levy Paluck of Princeton and her co-authors in a 2021 Annual Review of Psychology article, “considering the frequency with which calls for diversity training emerge in the wake of widely publicized instances of discriminatory conduct.”

Dr. Paluck’s team found just two large experimental studies in the previous decade that attempted to evaluate the effects of diversity trainings and met basic quality benchmarks. Other researchers have been similarly unimpressed. “We have been speaking to employers about this research for more than a decade,” wrote the sociologists Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev in 2018, “with the message that diversity training is likely the most expensive, and least effective, diversity program around.” (To be fair, not all of these critiques apply as sharply to voluntary diversity trainings.)

If diversity trainings have no impact whatsoever, that would mean that perhaps billions of dollars are being wasted annually in the United States on these efforts. But there’s a darker possibility: Some diversity initiatives might actually worsen the D.E.I. climates of the organizations that pay for them.

That’s partly because any psychological intervention may turn out to do more harm than good. The late psychologist Scott Lilienfeld made this point in an influential 2007 article where he argued that certain interventions — including ones geared at fighting youth substance use, youth delinquency and PTSD — likely fell into that category. In the case of D.E.I., Dr. Dobbin and Dr. Kalev warn that diversity trainings that are mandatory, or that threaten dominant groups’ sense of belonging or make them feel blamed, may elicit negative backlash or exacerbate pre-existing biases. . . . “

. . . .Rather than make relations between racial groups more congenial, they made non-progressive whites more suspicious and afraid of minority co-workers. Why? Because the sessions, which felt like receiving training in dogmatic theology in a rigid, punitive seminary, made it clear who had power and who did not.

One tended to avoid any potentially controversial conversation with a minority co-worker, to avoid that chance of being accused of racism, of microaggressions, or of any other offense against the sacred code. Within organizations dominated by DEI ideology, you had no reason to believe that if accused by someone favored by DEI categories, you would get a fair hearing.

The entire DEI ethos functions to make whites and people of all races who dissent into thought criminals.

In one company I worked for that was all-in for DEI, it was infuriating to see minorities who were clearly not as good at their jobs as whites with more experience receive promotions, and the managers (usually white people) advancing these employees not on the basis of merit, but race, sex, or other DEI-privileged characteristic, patting themselves on the back for their virtue. In the professional circles I moved in, DEI training and the DEI mindset caused nothing but fear, suspicion, and deep cynicism about company leadership.

I suppose I should say that as far as I knew, none of my DEI-hating colleagues were against the idea of having a diverse workforce.

What we objected to, in part, was that DEI was an ideology that could be used to stymie our professional advancement, no matter how hard we worked and what we achieved, because we did not have the right skin color of other demographic characteristic favored by the ideology.  . . . (read whole article by Rod Dreher at The American Conservative)

Why Diversity Programs Fail (Harvard Business Review)
Organizations are trying to reduce bias with the same kinds of programs they’ve been using since the 1960s. And the usual tools—diversity training, hiring tests, performance ratings, grievance systems—tend to make things worse, not better. The authors’ analysis of data from 829 firms over three decades shows that these tools actually decrease the proportion of women and minorities in management. They’re designed to preempt lawsuits by policing managers’ decisions and actions. But as lab studies show, this kind of force-feeding can activate bias and encourage rebellion. . . .

A Retrospective View of Corporate Diversity Training From 1964 to the Present (Academy of Management Learning & Education) PDF
. . . . Some of the unintended consequences were that many left confused, angry, or with more animosity toward differences. With no formal follow-up, employees were left on their own to interpret and internalize what they had learned. Many interpreted the key learning point as having to walk on egg shells around women and minorities— choosing words carefully so as not to offend. Some surmised that it meant White men were villains, still others assumed that they would lose their jobs to minorities and women, while others concluded that women and minorities were simply too sensitive. . . .

What is your diversity training experience in the military or government? Let us know by using our Contact Form.

Here’s one:

In the early 1990s, I and my fellow CIA security officers had to attend diversity training for a whole week offsite at a local hotel where we had to stay there ($$). All I remember about the class was that when we started, we all saw each other as fellow security officers, that’s it. But by the end of the course, we now saw each other as a “older Asian female” or a “middle-aged black male” or a “young white female”, etc. I’ll never forget the division the course created among us. Now looking back, that is a Marxism goal–to divide people.


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