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Why diversity training workshops do not work - research

25 July 2021 10:26 AM
Tags:
diversity training

Sara-Jayne King with sociologist Prof Frank Dobbin, diversity trainer Asanda Ngoasheng, and Surgo MD Rude Alley share insights.
  • Research studies show diversity or anti-bias training is ineffective
  • US sociology professor argues that stereotypes are so ingrained that a diversity training workshop does not see long-term changes

Copyright: fizkes/ 123rf

This week, Sara-Jayne King's Talking Point conversation is inspired by recent research by Frank Dobbin, a professor of social sciences, and colleague Alexandra Kalev on why diversity training does not work.

Prof Dobbin suggests that there’s pretty wide agreement that you can’t train away bias and he says that actually, exposure to training can sometimes activate rather than help to suppress bias.

In South Africa, how effective has diversity training been?

These trainings are designed to reduce unconscious bias.

Over a thousand studies beginning in the 1940s looked at different kinds of anti-bias or diversity training. On the one hand, there has just been no evidence that you can reduce bias or stereotyping in a sustained way to a measurable degree in any of these studies.

Prof Frank Dobbin, Sociologist - Harvard University

He has noted that two common features of diversity training, the mandatory participation, and legal curriculum, will make participants feel that external power is trying to control their behavior

Short-term effects are seen as a result of the kind of training, he notes, but in the longer term stereotypes do not seem to change after a few hours or days of diversity training.

Stereotypes are ingrained in our consciousness and subconsciousness over a lifetime.

Prof Frank Dobbin, Sociologist - Harvard University

He says such training is more effective when in conjunction with other programmes in the company such as a mentoring programme.




25 July 2021 10:26 AM
Tags:
diversity training