Most Diversity Programs have the opposite effect, according to a 2016 Harvard Study
Why Diversity Programs Fail
A 2016 research article in the Harvard Business Review makes it clear that the majority of diversity programs and initiatives have the opposite effect. They actually reduce diversity, and increase bias and discrimination in the workplace.
From a psychological point of view this is understandable. Standard diversity programs typically take a 'blame and shame' approach that target the majority group with negative messages about their power, privilege and behaviours. This is experienced by them as an attack on their character and their moral validity, and produces a predictable resistance, resentment and desire to disengage from the issue.
Far from building bridges of understanding and respect, they create psychological barriers by engendering (pun intended) an environment of fear and resentment. This leads to managers choosing to avoid hiring from diverse populations because they don't want the 'headache' of having to deal with their diversity.
To be honest, this should be obvious. When we divide people into separate groups, create different sets of rules for those groups, morally persecute one group and artificially try to advantage another, we are going to produce resentment. When we try to mandate behaviour and attitudes in human beings, they typically react by finding subtle and often unconscious ways to assert their free will by defying those mandates.
These outdated approaches ignore more than 70 years of science that has shown us how to create inclusion and respect in diverse populations. As far back as WWII social psychologists were telling us that what makes a cohesive community of diverse individuals is emphasising the commonalities between us, and giving diverse people the opportunity to work together towards a common goal.
This is still true today. For all our differences in appearance, culture, beliefs and behaviours human beings share common aspirations, basic values and needs. When we focus on these, and give people ways to engage compassionately with their own human tendencies towards tribalism and bias, we create a culture of collaboration and understanding.
The result of ths type of approach is greater cohesion, respect and collaboration from which everyone benefits.
If you want to see this in your organisation, give us a call and have a chat about how we can help you to create an authentically inclusive cutlure.
The Positive Diversity Program
The Good Psychology Positive Diversity Program takes a scientific and respectful approach that helps people to be congruent with their own natural values, compassionately deconstruct their own bias potentials, and engage in collaborative growth and development.
Our ethos is simple – build bridges of pride, empowerment and understanding between people. We achieve this in the following way.
Part 1: Understanding Prejudice and Positive Diversity
This 8 hour session (with breaks) introduces people to the psycholgoical mechanism of prejudice that every human being carries and experiences. Participants work together to unpack the evolutionary roots of our tendency towards tribalism, including
How and why difference induces fear in human beings
Why we form tribal bonds and schemas of belonging
How our developmental experiences create unconscious prejudices and discrimination
The roles that people typically play in dealing with discrimination, and why they don't work
How to compassionately overcome our own biases and build bridges between us.
Part 2: Understanding Power and Privilege
This 4 hour session (with break) gives participants the opportunity to respectfully and kindly understand how their social position gives them unearned and often unwanted power or privilege relative to others, and how to participate in equalising social privilege through acts of inclusion and understanding.
Note: We do NOT single out particular groups for negative
or positive attention. This part of the program is about individuals being able to identify their personal landscape
of privilege, in a non-blaming/non-shaming way that empowers everybody.
The many types of privilege that people experience, including: wealth, education, culture, gender, intelligences (not a typo), family, social, psychological, spiritual and resource privilege.
Their own experiences of bias, discrimination, opportunity and limitation.
The way their positive and negative experience of privilege (everyone has both) has impacted on their life and their identity.
Part 3: Understanding Empowerment
This 4 hour session (with break) helps people to understand how they can empower themselves and others to overcome the negative impacts of discrimination and privilege in their world. Participants explore:
The difference between power and empowerment, and why it's so important to understand this
How they can engage an empowerment philosophy to reverse the impacts of bias and discrimination on themselves and others
How to create environments of psychological and emotional safety that foster collaboration and diversity.
FACILITATOR - ADAM BLANCH
Adam Blanch is a psychologist with degrees in indigenous studies and psychology. He is a passionate advocate for kindness, inclusion, empowerment and understanding between people.