Category Archives: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Women in the Workplace 2021

Source: McKinsey, September 27, 2021

A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, women in corporate America are even more burned out than they were last year—and increasingly more so than men. Despite this, women leaders are stepping up to support employee well-being and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, but that work is not getting recognized. That’s according to the latest Women in the Workplace report from McKinsey, in partnership with LeanIn.Org.

This is the seventh year of Women in the Workplace, the largest study of women in corporate America. This effort, conducted by McKinsey in partnership with LeanIn.Org, analyzes the representation of women in corporate America, provides an overview of HR policies and programs—including HR leaders’ sentiment on the most effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practices—and explores the intersectional experiences of different groups of women at work. The data set this year reflects contributions from 423 participating organizations employing 12 million people and more than 65,000 people surveyed on their workplace experiences; in-depth interviews were also conducted with women of diverse identities, including women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities.

A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, women have made important gains in representation, and especially in senior leadership. But the pandemic continues to take a toll. Women are now significantly more burned out—and increasingly more so than men.

Despite this added stress and exhaustion, women are rising to the moment as stronger leaders and taking on the extra work that comes with this: compared with men at the same level, women are doing more to support their teams and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. They are also more likely to be allies to women of color. Yet this critical work is going unrecognized and unrewarded by most companies, and that has concerning implications. Companies risk losing the very leaders they need right now, and it’s hard to imagine organizations navigating the pandemic and building inclusive workplaces if this work isn’t truly prioritized.

Mapping Exclusion in the Organization

Source: Inga Carboni, Andrew Parker, and Nan S. Langowitz, MIT Sloan Management Review, November 23, 2021
(subscription required)

…One of the biggest barriers to women’s success is their exclusion from informal professional networks. To identify the challenges and solutions involved in developing gender-inclusive networks, we studied the organizational networks of dozens of companies, surveyed thousands of employees, and interviewed senior executives responsible for implementing their organization’s gender-related diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. (See “The Research.”) Our research made clear that who you know is as important — often more so — than what you know when it comes to rising through the ranks.

Networks are how people learn the unwritten rules of success, hear about job and promotion opportunities before they are posted, and — most critically — build a level of interpersonal trust and rapport with their contacts that translates into a willingness to pick up the phone and vouch for someone’s capabilities. According to one study, nearly 40% of the gender pay gap can be explained by the informal relationships that men have with their male managers…..

Tackling the Allyship Gap at Work

Source: Katie Mehnert, MIT Sloan Management Review, November 3, 2021

To be an effective ally, educate yourself, take guidance, and don’t give up when pressure mounts.

In recent years, calls have increased for people to be better allies to coworkers who are members of marginalized groups. Millions of people believe they have heeded those calls. In a LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey conducted in June 2020 — as protests over police killings of unarmed Black people were sweeping across the country — more than 80% of White people said they see themselves as allies to people of other races and ethnicities.

But people who are supposed to be on the receiving end of such support often see things differently. Of Black women respondents to the survey, only 45% said they have strong allies at work, and only 26% said they believe Black women have strong allies at work in general.

Well-Being, EDIB, and the Promise of Leadership Development

Source: Kristin Vogel & Sue Erickson, Journal of Library Administration, Volume 61, Issue 7, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Morale research over the past several years documents a crisis in the library profession and a 2021 report by Ithaka S + R reveals a confidence deficit in library administrators around work toward equity, diversity, inclusivity and belonging. The connections between belonging, resilience, and morale are strong and immediate action is required to address the crisis. This article posits that a strategic approach to leadership development, with a focus on coaching, is key to bridging the gap. Authentic and adaptive leadership models as supportive strategies are explored and a coaching approach to management is presented to launch readers into their next action.

Race Talk Amongst White Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Steven Campos, Hamilton College, Research Paper, Student Scholarship, August 19, 2021

From the abstract:
The year 2020 was a time of struggle, difficulty, and fear for many individuals due to the COVID-19 pandemic as victims of the virus increased dramatically throughout the year. As a result, many families have had to stay close together under the same roof to avoid the risk of infection. Along with the concern of the virus, protests against police brutality rose around the world after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in May and March, respectively, of 2020. The media heavily covered the protests throughout the summer, making the topic almost impossible to ignore, sparking conversations among families. But as I will argue further, talking about race and racism is new for many of the white parents we interviewed. Understanding perspectives from people who are color-blind or color-conscious during the summer of 2020 allows us to understand how some parents were willing or felt forced to have conversations about racial injustice with their children.

Shining the light on women’s work, this time brighter: Let’s start at the top

Source: Donna E. Schultheiss, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 126, April 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
• Persistent barriers and inequities in women’s advancement to senior leadership
• Threat to equity in women’s work has enormously intensified in the context of the pandemic.
• Modest gains in women achieving top leadership positions are at risk of being erased.
• Emerging leadership theories, women’s leadership aspirations and barriers to women’s advancement to senior leadership
• Recommendations for sustainable individual and organizational development practice and research

As the percentage of women in the workforce grew over the past 50 years, so too began the slow assent of women into leadership roles, revealing a sharp trailing percentage of women from entry level to senior leadership positions. Although men’s leadership has been studied extensively, women were largely overlooked in leadership theory and research until the late 1990s. In the context of the global pandemic, the threat to equity in women’s work has enormously intensified, resulting in women leaving or considering leaving the workforce at rates that greatly exceed men. Modest gains in women achieving top leadership positions are at risk of being erased, as women face intense increased pressure at work and home. Persistent barriers and inequities in women’s advancement to senior leadership are now in the spotlight during these unprecedented times, heightening the urgency to examine the current state and future direction of women’s leadership. There is no better time to invest in diversity, equity and inclusion in leadership by turning attention to theory, research, and individual and organizational practices to drive women’s advancement and success. This contribution to the 50th anniversary special issue addresses emerging leadership theories, women’s leadership aspirations, and importantly, barriers to women’s advancement to senior leadership.

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)

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.