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Researchers Claim DEI Training Doesn’t Work as Intended

Researchers Claim DEI Training Doesn’t Work as Intended

“the typical DEI training doesn’t educate people about bias and may even do harm”

Mahzarin Banaji and Frank Dobbin, a psychologist and a sociologist, have studied DEI training for years and they say it doesn’t work.

They write at the Wall Street Journal:

Why DEI Training Doesn’t Work—and How to Fix It

At least 30 states are considering legislation to defund DEI initiatives in public universities and state agencies. At the same time, conservative activists, emboldened by the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action in college admissions, are suing companies to stop DEI initiatives. These challenges come on the heels of the growth of corporate DEI programs after the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020.

Meanwhile, advocates for DEI—which stands for diversity, equity and inclusion—have bemoaned the fact that after decades of diversity training, many university faculties, state agencies and corporations have made little progress on diversifying the workforce.

Are the right and the left on the same page here—is diversity training a hopeless cause?

We are a psychologist and a sociologist who have been studying bias and organizational diversity programs, respectively, for decades. The research makes it clear that Americans desperately need education about bias, because even people who value fairness and equality hold biases—without being aware of it. They need to understand that bias operates systemically and must be addressed at the individual, institutional and societal levels.

Education offered on these matters is very much in the national spirit. As Alexis de Tocqueville noted in “Democracy in America” in 1835: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”…

It’s not hard to conclude from all these studies that we are not the land of opportunity for everyone we claim to be. An enlightened society should see that education about the prevalence of discrimination is imperative. In fact, it would be downright dumb not to educate people.

But, as Dobbin and Kalev have shown, the typical DEI training doesn’t educate people about bias and may even do harm.


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You spend your energies telling people they are hopelessly racist (“systemic” racism) then you wonder why no changes happen.


    RicoT JD in Mipples in reply to GWB. | September 22, 2023 at 8:54 am

    Systemic racism does not imply hopelessness, that it is hopeless to change one’s own racism, that anyone is now “racist” and will (hopelessly) remain so.
    You might have picked that up from the hopelessly incompetent and dogmatically biased far right OR “black nationalists,” “white nationalists” who are apart from the DEI movement’s attempts to heal America’s FAR FROM UNIQUE HISTORY OF RACISM, though.
    But it is bogus, false, untrue, mistaken, wrong: that capacity for change IS THE MAIN POINT OF THE EDUCATION IN CONFRONTING ONE’S OWN RACISM.
    Now probably you will simply ignore this, claim it does not track the “real” DEI movement and trainings you “heard about” or “the one I went through made me feel as if I, as a white male, was `hopelessly racist,'” which indicates (if it happened at all) INCOMPETENCE ON THE TRAINER’S PART. Not the same thing at all, do you see now?

      Systemic racism does not imply hopelessness
      Bullcarp. That’s exactly what they’re telling people. The whole point of “systemic” in that is to indicate it’s pervasive, everywhere, can’t be rooted out (except, maybe, by a total rejection of the current system), and can only be solved by giving someone else the power.

      And if the “education” (really, it’s religious indoctrination) can’t identify anything racist I’ve done (that isn’t patently ridiculous), but still claims I’m inherently racist and I just don’t understand it and need more education, then it is definitely saying there’s no out. Hence the progressive inquisition practiced by so many.

      Your statement sounds an awful lot like “True socialism DEI has never been tried!”

      and since it’s not hopeless you want even MOAR money to “fight” it, right? By the way I don’t care about the black nationalists. Don’t try to change them either. I respect them, to the extent their idea is to have their own society untroubled by others. I have no desire to dominate them and wish them well, as long as they pay for everything the normal way and don’t try to dominate me.

OTOH, maybe there’s a good reason why it can’t possibly work.
When I see a cat and someone tries to convince me, it’s a poodle, I tend to believe my lying eyes, all the moreso when it meows.

    RicoT JD in Mipples in reply to paracelsus. | September 22, 2023 at 8:59 am

    Meaningless and globally vague fail.
    There is no viable, useful, relevant concept of BIOLOGICAL race – based on a phenotypical trait like skin color, anyway.
    Makes as much sense to claim there are THREE races: Tall, Medium, and Short.
    You studied evolutionary biology and didn’t learn that, really? Or never passed a biology class beyond high school? Or at all?
    Epic fail: globally vague and opaque analogy – “cats and dogs,” etc. NO ONE is making any wild claims like that about race, OR about people who underwent some kind of “gender-affirming surgery” that scares wimps insecure in their own psycho-sexual identity, either. The latter should grow the fork up and let people live their own lives.

      Wow. You’re really mired deep in the Progressivism.
      Lots of DIE folks are making plenty of “wild claims” about race and racism.

      Nobel Prize winner James Watson (at least an A student in biology wouldn’t you say) got cancelled for saying some perfectly obvious things about sex if I recall. There was no argument that he was wrong, simply that it was “malinformation” — information that’s true but that we don’t want discussed.

      So disagreeing with you may result in getting cancelled, but it doesn’t mean the person is wrong.

      “Makes as much sense to claim there are THREE races: Tall, Medium, and Short.”

      Caucasian, Negroid, and Mongoloid.
      Like male and female.
      Read ’em and weep.

Enshrining a theory of collective blame based on immutable characteristics with no forgiveness, what could go wrong?

Don’t get your hopes up. This is basically a “we’re not pushing hard enough…we’re being too gentle”

The grievance overlords assure us that this will work when we can actively oppress the so-called racists with “bias training”.

    henrybowman in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 22, 2023 at 1:11 am

    “Why DEI Training Doesn’t Work—and How to Fix It”

    REAL DEI hAs nEVeR bEEn tRiED!”

    Besides, I don’t want to “fix it.”
    I want to feed it to a woodchipper.

      RicoT JD in Mipples in reply to henrybowman. | September 22, 2023 at 9:01 am

      Thanks for revealing your totally irrational hatred of American values: equality and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – including the RIGHT of women to not have their own body declared property of the state, which is a paradigm case of authoritarian / fascist / totalitarian ideology.

        I don’t think you understand “American values” OR actual rights.
        You’re a pro-abort, so you’re definitely not showing appreciation of “the right to life” OR “American values.”

        Obama tried to change the definition of “American values”. We’ve figured out his expert wordsmithing and it doesn’t work anymore. You’re too late. What are Mipples anyway?

        Oh, please, blow it out your sphincter.
        There’s a virtue signaling party going on over at… shouldn’t you be enjoying yourself there?
        I’m sure it would be better than here, where you have to upvote your own posts in order to feel any love at all.
        Back in my day, that kind of love was called “self-abuse,” but hey — you do you.

      I wrote my comment about “never been tried” before I even got to your comment. 🙂

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to henrybowman. | September 22, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      Throw it in the wood chipper along with that awful trend of alternating case sentences.

JackinSilverSpring | September 21, 2023 at 7:46 pm

Leave it to the WSJ to give these racists a platform. The most disgusting sentences here are the following: “The research makes it clear that Americans desperately need education about bias, because even people who value fairness and equality hold biases—without being aware of it. They need to understand that bias operates systemically and must be addressed at the individual, institutional and societal levels.” Which people are they talking about? Might it be white males? Are we unaware? If we are unaware, how do we or they know we have biases that operate systemically? Are they mind readers? What they have to say is self-refuting. Consequently, what they have to say should be dismissed as a load of excrementum bovini.

    RicoT JD in Mipples in reply to JackinSilverSpring. | September 22, 2023 at 9:05 am

    That’s incoherent gibberish, no one needs to exercise OCCULT POWERS to watch a segment of whites loudly proclaim their racism, genius, some are doing it on THIS VERY COMMENTS THREAD.
    And the DEI training ALSO applies to “Black Nationalists” and ideologues of the Nation of Islam type, the only one refuting themselves is you, of course.
    All you have can be dismissed as a flaatus vocis.

      JackinSilverSpring in reply to RicoT JD in Mipples. | September 22, 2023 at 9:28 am

      Excrementum bovini.

      No, RicoT JD, NO ONE in these comments (to this point, as I read down) has shown ANY racism. (And there are occasional commenters who normally do.)

      And I have never seen any of these trainings that have done more than mention in passing – almost like it’s a token representation – any sort of non-white racist groups. (BTW, even the ones mentioned as a token have never included the current ones in favor with the politically connected, like BLM, that I have seen.)

    even people who value fairness and equality hold biases—without being aware of it.
    Honestly, this is part of the “you can’t control law-abiding people” shtick. You can’t keep demanding people get training to understand their biases if they’re actually all fair and equality-minded and such. So you tell them their biases are “hidden” or they’re “unaware” of them. If they’re truly fair-minded and support equality (not equity), then you don’t need to do more training – and your grift disappears.

      GWB in reply to GWB. | September 22, 2023 at 1:15 pm

      (I think I found one of the folks mass-downvoting me. 🙂 )

        henrybowman in reply to GWB. | September 22, 2023 at 6:28 pm

        Nah, I don’t think RicoT has been here that long.
        As far as I can tell, he’s a glowy newbie whose shtick is to upvote all his own posts (you’ll notice every one has gotten exactly one) and downvote all his debaters (you’ll notice all those made prior to his most recent post has gotten only one).
        If he really is a JD, he’s the Taylor Lorenz of JDs.

      henrybowman in reply to GWB. | September 22, 2023 at 6:18 pm

      It’s the denial trap — “denying you’re X just proves you’re X.” Just more horseshit dreamed up by chess-playing pigeons.

I am well aware of my biases – they’ve actually significantly increased in the last 20 years. I am a (retired) HR executive and I watched as my company made increasingly poor choices for promotion based on who the candidates were. The Board loved Black Females because they ticked two boxes. I watched many managers who perhaps had potential fail because they were promoted into positions for which they were not qualified, often because they were promoted too soon to have developed the skills needed. I watched White Males go onto cruise control when it became obvious they were not going to be promoted. I retired at 55, as did many of my cohort, for this reason. have since watched the company decline. Probably just coincidence but it didn’t seem that way to me. You get passed over for Sam Britton et al, and suddenly it’s not worth playing the game.

    nordic prince in reply to Hodge. | September 22, 2023 at 1:27 am

    Part of that is also the entitlement attitude that many seem to have, and younger workers in particular. When you’re told all your life how wonderful you are and have everything given to you by people bending over backwards, why bother with developing skills or any sort of self-improvement? The workplace is filled with Mary Sues who are then promoted far beyond their level of incompetence.

    artichoke in reply to Hodge. | September 22, 2023 at 2:24 pm

    I guess you mean Sam Brinton. For me it took less than that to go on autopilot. But you were in HR, and it’s too bad that you didn’t feel that you could make positive change to right the ship even there in the belly of the beast (yeah mixed metaphor there).

We all have lots of biases, which we generally believe are empirically based. (Tall people make better centers than short people in the NBA, generally a true statement.) The DEI training is designed to pick a few of these that the proponents don’t like, and to beat them out of people.

One thing you won’t allow is the presentation of evidence in favor of these propositions that you call biases. You want to have a “conversation” but your opponent has to be afraid of robustly arguing the other side. That’s not a conversation, and we aren’t fooled by your use of the word.

There is no nice way to do it. We are not so stupid that we’ll let it happen by sweet talking either. The talking never stays sweet when you’re opposed cogently. We’re entitled to our opinions, even if you call them biases. This effort deserves no institutional money or support, and we’ll drive it to zero if we can.