Although diversity and inclusion training is prevalent in corporate America, its impact is inconsistent. According to the evidence, sometimes the programs even have the opposite effect of what they intend. One 2016 study of 830 mandatory diversity training programs found that they often triggered a strong backlash against the ideas they promoted. “Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance,” wrote sociologists Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev in the Harvard Business Review, “and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward.”
The problem is not with the programs themselves. They make a strong case for valuing differences. Why, then, does it spark a backlash? The answer has to do with biases deeply entrenched in most people’s patterns of thinking — attitudes not about race or gender per se, but about the nature of autonomy and choice, and about group membership.
Authors: David Rock, Heidi Grant
Subjects: Human Resources, Organizational Behavior, Training & Development