The Failure of the DEI-Industrial Complex

There’s a big, poorly kept secret in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) industry: the actual efficacy of an uncomfortably large proportion of our “flagship” services, talking points, and interventions — unconscious bias training, racial sensitivity workshops, the “business case for diversity,” resume anonymization, and the like — is lower than many practitioners make it out to be.

Unconscious bias training rarely changes actual behaviors and has little impact on explicit biases. A meta-analysis of hundreds of prejudice-reduction interventions found few that unambiguously achieved their goals. Many popular interventions run the risk of backlash, strong adverse reactions that sustain or even worsen the inequity that practitioners attempt to eliminate. Even “the business case for diversity,” a decades-old rhetorical framing and justification for DEI work, has been found to backfire on marginalized groups’ feelings of belonging and weaken support

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This article was written by Lily Zheng and originally published on hbr.org