How organizations dodge diversity, and what we can do about it

March 19, 2021
Adam Payne

Why, when so many companies are allocating resources to diversity initiatives, is diversity at the executive level not increasing?

It comes down to diversity dodges, Adam Payne, an alum of Penn GSE’s Chief Learning Officer program, assistant professor of psychology at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, and chair of the CLO Alumni Network board of directors, and Dana Kaminstein, an adjunct assistant professor at Penn GSE, write in an article for MIT’s Sloan Management Review.

Dynamic conservatism, where “organizations make token changes to ward off substantive ones,” is behind these dodges. They define four ways that organizations avoid (or dodge) making meaningful and substantive changes: training that changes little, diversity officers who have responsibility without power or authority, limited organization-wide commitment, and the inaccurate claim, “We can’t find qualified Black executives.” To make changes, leaders will have to ask tough questions, they say. 

Payne and Kaminstein propose three tangible actions that leaders must take to counter these dodges: 

1. Set radical hiring targets. 
2. Promote diversity hiring as a strategy to strengthen the organization.
3. Consider retention to be as critical as hiring. 

For more, check out the full piece in MIT’s Sloan Review.

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