Category Archives: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past

Source: Smithsonian Institution, 2021

Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past offers a space for dialogue about race. It provides a safe and collaborative place where anyone can share experiences and increase their understanding of the legacy of race and racism.

Drawing on the breadth of the Smithsonian’s expertise, research, and collections, our goal is to help advance the work of others. Race and Our Shared Future provides an ecosystem of resources and experiences, both digital and live, featuring real conversations from local communities to national events.

Confronting race and racism is difficult, but necessary work. The Smithsonian strives to amplify your voices in our commitment to building a more equitable path toward our shared future.

Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past is built on six thematic pillars. Each is designed to make issues of race and systemic racism understandable, relevant, and, most importantly, changeable.

Attend an Upcoming Event
The Smithsonian is hosting in-person and virtual events designed to help all of us understand, experience, and confront race and racism. We’ll see you there.

Start New Classroom Conversations
From teaching toolkits to low-tech learning activities, the Learning Lab’s resources support classroom teachers’ efforts to amplify critical conversations about the history and legacy of race and racism in the United States and beyond with their students.

Research: How Companies Committed to Diverse Hiring Still Fail

Source: Judd Kessler and Corinne Low, Harvard Business Review, February 11, 2021
(subscription required)

Even if your company is committed to diversity inclusion, you might have hidden biases in your hiring strategies. According to recent research on the hiring practices at several prestigious firms, this can take several forms. For example, you might view unpaid internships more favorably than other types of summer jobs, which introduces socioeconomic bias. And you might think that minority and female candidates are less likely to accept a job if offered because so many other firms are also interested in hiring them (something, incidentally, the research doesn’t bear out); because of this, you might be less likely to pursue those candidates. So, if you’re truly committed to diversifying your organization, take a hard look at your hiring processes and face up the fact that they might not be as effective in practice as they are in intention.

I Am Not Your N*gger: Using State Legislation to Pursue Hostile Work Environment Claims Involving Racial Epithets

Source: Shawn Grant, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 72, Issue No. 2, Summer 2021
(subscription required)

Introduction
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires that plaintiffs alleging racial harassment prove that the harassing conduct was so severe or pervasive as to create an abusive and hostile work environment. However, plaintiffs encounter obstacles to bringing hostile work environment claims, based on the use of racial epithets, such as the n-word. The “severe or pervasive” standard, as the Supreme Court has defined it through the Court’s decisions, and as some courts have interpreted it, creates a high bar to establishing a prima facie case. Frequently cases based on the single or isolated use of the n-word result in dismissal or summary judgment for defendants, depriving plaintiffs of the opportunity to have their cases heard by a jury. In many cases, the court’s concern with whether the use of the “n-word” is sufficiently “pervasive” to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment, has caused the severity of the impact of the word’s one time use on the victim to be overlooked. This has resulted in the current split among the circuit courts.

Dissatisfaction with the federal courts’ interpretation of the severe or pervasive standard and the implications for the increasing number of sexual harassment cases, due in part to the #MeToo movement, has led some states to enact legislation, or amend current laws, eliminating or narrowing the application of that standard. Victims of hostile work environment based on race, particularly those who are basing their claims on incidents involving the single use of the n-word, may have a greater chance of success by bringing their claims under the laws of states that have revised their legislation to reduce the interpretive barriers to such claims.

Why Putting On Blinders Can Help Us See More Clearly

Source: Sean Fath, Richard P. Larrick, Jack B. Soll, and Susan Zhu, MIT Sloan Management Review, June 8, 2021

Even if your organization doesn’t have a “blinding” policy for hiring and other people evaluations, it’s possible to reap some of the benefits.

Would you decide which job candidates to interview based on their names — or which ventures to fund based on entrepreneurs’ gender or physical attractiveness? Few managers would admit doing so, even to themselves. But research shows that decision makers are in fact susceptible to exactly this type of bias. Identical resumes sent in response to job postings are less likely to generate a callback for an interview if the name at the top suggests the candidate is Black.1 And female entrepreneurs face harsher questions from potential investors and are less likely to have their ideas funded than men (particularly attractive men).

Generally, this body of research demonstrates that the fairness of social evaluations — such as whom to hire, invest in, or promote — can be adversely affected by irrelevant and seemingly innocuous attributes, like name or appearance, because of the biases they evoke. How might these judgments be made more equitably? One way to reduce the potential for bias and increase objectivity is to adopt a decision-making strategy called blinding — that is, limiting the information that can be considered in an evaluation. The logic is straightforward: An evaluator cannot be biased by irrelevant information about a target of evaluation (for instance, a job candidate’s name) if that information is hidden from view. It is for this reason that Justice is typically depicted wearing a blindfold: The blindfold ensures the impartiality of her decision-making.

How Men Can Be More Inclusive Leaders

Source: David G. Smith, W. Brad Johnson, and Lisen Stromberg, Harvard Business Review, May 12, 2021
(subscription required)

Despite the Covid-19 “Shecession,” which has driven millions of women out of the workforce, women are the majority of the college-educated talent pool. Because of this, male leaders — and men more broadly — must pursue gender inclusion and equity through deliberate allyship with women. There are four inclusive leadership strategies male leaders should follow. First, get comfortable being uncomfortable. Have the humility to know that there’s much you don’t know about others’ experiences. Second, make inclusive leadership personal and visible. Your messaging should come from the heart, and it must be personal and authentic. Third, design transparency into your workplace by being clear about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you’re progressing. Finally, design accountability into your workplace. Ensure your governance policies align with your inclusion goals, and extend diversity and representation requirements to your suppliers and customers.

4 Lessons for Building Diverse Teams

Source: Naomi Wheeless, Harvard Business Review, May 17, 2021
(subscription required)

Companies often hire the exact same type of employee over and over. The thinking is that if employee X is doing a great job and everyone gets along with them, then the smart thing to do must be to hire more people exactly like them. This mentality leads to hiring managers seeking out candidates that identically mirror their existing workforce. They’ll look for the same educational background and skillsets, source from the same narrow list of companies, and look for similar personality traits during interviews. Before you know it, you end up with an entire staff that looks, thinks, and — to a degree — acts almost exactly the same. Not only does this tend to result in a reduction in diversity of thought (among other aspects of diversity), but it can prevent the company from realizing its true potential. Fresh new perspectives are necessary to bring forth bold new ideas, challenge long-standing internal thinking, and provide a more complete internal representation of the customer base.

Effecting Real Progress in Executive Diversity and Inclusion

Source: Adam Payne and Dana Kaminstein, MIT Sloan Management Review, February 24, 2021
(subscription required)

Why diversity and inclusion efforts often fail to produce the intended changes, and proactive approaches leaders can take.

Well-run companies expect good returns on their spending, and leaders who continue to support initiatives that don’t produce results usually find themselves demoted or fired. So why have the billions of dollars that many organizations have spent on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts produced so little substantive progress toward greater diversity?

Numerous reports indicate that the percentage of Black people in the leadership ranks of large U.S. companies hovers at just above 3%. This percentage remains persistently low despite large investments in diversity and inclusion training, the creation of offices of diversity and inclusion, and other companywide initiatives. Studies now indicate that DEI training rarely improves an organization’s record of hiring or promoting Black people. Companies that bemoan a dearth of qualified Black candidates for leadership roles rarely consider that the hiring process itself may disqualify potential applicants of color.

Aware of the ways in which organizations defend themselves against change that threatens their social structures, philosopher and social theorist Donald Schön noted that organizations will “fight like mad to stay the same.”…

Breaking the Cycle of Bias That Works Against Women Leaders

Source: Maryam Kouchaki, Burak Oc, and Ekaterina Netchaeva, MIT Sloan Management Review, March 31, 2021
(subscription required)

Women are presented job opportunities differently than men — depending on the hiring manager’s political ideology.

It turns out that gender bias in hiring and advancement is more pervasive than we thought.

While progress has certainly been made toward workplace gender parity — some companies, for example, are writing more gender-balanced performance reviews — the reality is that women are still underrepresented in private-sector leadership positions. There are likely multiple drivers of this. Outright discrimination — denying women jobs on the basis of their gender rather than their skill sets — is certainly one. But another, harder-to-detect factor can contribute to the leadership gap: the tendency of some organizational decision makers to subtly dissuade women from pursuing leadership roles….

Related:
It’s a man’s world! The role of political ideology in the early stages of leader recruitment
Source: Burak Oc, Ekaterina Netchaeva, Maryam Kouchaki, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 162, January 2021
(subscription required)

Highlights
• Conservatives describe a leadership position less positively to a female candidate.
• Liberals do not demonstrate such gender bias.
• Conservatives experience greater anxiety when communicating with female candidates.
• Anxious decision makers describe the position less positively to candidates.

Abstract:
Previous research has demonstrated the impact of political ideology on a wide variety of psychological and behavioral processes. Contributing to this research, we examine the effect of organizational decision makers’ political ideology and job candidates’ gender on how the decision makers communicate information about leadership positions to the candidate. In five studies, we demonstrate that decision makers who are more conservative exhibit gender bias by providing a female (versus male) candidate with a less positive description of a leadership position, an effect driven by the decision makers’ felt anxiety. We further show that making information on women’s success in leadership positions salient diminishes the effect of political ideology insofar as both more and less conservative decision makers will exhibit similar levels of positivity when communicating with a prospective female candidate. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings.

Why the Rise of Remote Work May Help Companies Become More Diverse — and More Inclusive

Source: Samantha McLaren, LinkedIn Talent Blog, February 3, 2021

For companies that were able to transition predominantly to remote work at the outset of the pandemic, the past year has brought countless new discoveries and realizations. This is reflected in the still-evolving attitudes toward remote work: In December 2020, PwC found that 83% of employers felt the shift was a success, compared to 73% in June. What’s more, 52% of executives now report that employees are more productive than they were before the pandemic, up from 44% in the earlier survey.

A surprise bump in productivity isn’t the only unexpected outcome to emerge from this challenging situation. Some companies are recognizing that remote work could make it easier to attract and hire underrepresented talent that might not be abundant where their office is located. At the same time, many employees from underrepresented groups are hailing work-from-home as a stepping stone to greater inclusivity, helping them to bring their whole selves to work without facing unnecessary obstacles.

As you start to think about what happens after the pandemic, here are a few reasons why adopting a hybrid or fully remote workforce model in the long run could support your diversity, inclusion, and belonging efforts.

Remote work is the next diversity frontier

Source: Paul Estes, Fast Company, March 11, 2020

Organizations that don’t actively support remote work are limiting their capacity to engage with top talent.

…Every company wants to promote diversity and inclusion. In every industry, firms are creating executive-level chief diversity officer roles, and those people are tasked with running diversity and inclusion programs. Yet, those same companies do not yet understand the importance of making remote work a key part of their diversity and inclusion strategy.

Location as an element of diversity is not yet part of the conversation. It really needs to be.

Too much diversity policy is based on a desire for compliance, not on a genuine wish to restructure the way teams function. Did anyone ever do anything truly worthwhile because they wanted to avoid a lawsuit? The system gets in the way of what it’s supposed to accomplish because the underlying imperative is to take risk out of the equation….