Why mandatory diversity training programs haven’t produced desired results in the workplace.

Instead of reducing bias, studies show that mandatory diversity training can actually activate bias instead of reducing it. In fact, it can lead to more animosity towards other groups. Social Scientists have found that people often rebel against rules to assert their autonomy. So, diversity training tend to be deemed as a coerced legislative or business requirement hence it hasn’t really produced the desired results.

So, what can be done to increase the effectiveness of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs? The most effective DEI programs are the ones that encourage engagement and increase contact among different groups and involve managers in solving the problem.

Interventions such as sponsorship and mentorship programs have shown to improve DEI in corporations when senior managers are paired with teams from different backgrounds. As it turns out those who have workplace sponsors or advocates are paid 11.6 percent more than those who do not, according research conducted by PayScale Inc.

Findings from “Sponsors: Valuable Allies that Not Everyone Has” report shows that:  Females who have female sponsors make 14.6 percent less than females who have male sponsors.

 Women of color who have sponsors of the same race/ethnicity tend to have lower pay than women of color who have white sponsors. Essentially, through mentorship or sponsorship relationships, mentors tend to recognize mentees’ true potential regardless of their gender, race or sexual orientation because they have come to believe that their protégés merit these opportunities, especially having been mentored and coached by them.

So, in teaching their protégés the ropes and sponsoring them for training, promotion and pay increase, mentors help give their mentees the opportunities they need for career growth and advancement.

This in turn exposes the mentor to new perspectives and experiences that improve their emotional intelligence and sensitivity and ultimately chip away at bias. Photo: Monica Melton