Insights

Home > News & Insights > Insights > Diversity Training Ineffective?

Share this on:   a b j c

Diversity Training Ineffective?

Published by on January 21, 2008

There are many reflections today in the blogs on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.  The Connecticut Employment Law Blog has indexed some of them here.  It was, however, an article in The Washington Post over the weekend that caught my eye — “Most Diversity Training Ineffective, Study Finds.”  The study appears to show that a “backlash” […]

There are many reflections today in the blogs on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.  The Connecticut Employment Law Blog has indexed some of them here.  It was, however, an article in The Washington Post over the weekend that caught my eye — “Most Diversity Training Ineffective, Study Finds.” 

The study appears to show that a “backlash” effect exists with mandatory diversity training — “The analysis did not find that all diversity training is useless.  Rather, it showed that mandatory programs — often undertaken mainly with an eye to avoiding liability in discrimination lawsuits — were the problem.  When diversity training is voluntary and undertaken to advance a company’s business goals, it was associated with increased diversity in management.” 

The article goes on to discuss the statistical evidence of the “backlash” against mandatory diversity training:  “A comprehensive review of 31 years of data from 830 mid-size to large U.S. workplaces found that the kind of diversity training exercises offered at most firms were followed by a 7.5 percent drop in the number of women in management. The number of black, female managers fell by 10 percent, and the number of black men in top positions fell by 12 percent. Similar effects were seen for Latinos and Asians.”  In contrast, those firms that truly believe diversity will help their business saw an improvement in diversity in their organization.

Diversity training programs that drift over the line into “new age” seminars may also cause problems.  The EEOC’s web site points out that “mandatory ‘new-age’ training programs, designed to improve employee motivation, cooperation or productivity through meditation, yoga, biofeedback or other practices, may conflict with the non-discriminatory provisions of Title VII.   Employers must accommodate any employee who gives notice that these programs are inconsistent with the employee’s religious beliefs, whether or not the employer believes there is a religious basis for the employee’s objection.”  (“Facts About Religious Discrimination,” www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-relig.html ).

Topics:

Share:   a b j c