The article, published in the Harvard Business Review Magazine (July–August 2016), states that in analyzing three decades’ worth of data from more than 800 U.S. firms and interviewing hundreds of line managers and executives at length, they have seen that companies get better results when they ease up on the control tactics. It’s more effective to engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability—the desire to look fair-minded. That’s why interventions such as targeted college recruitment, mentoring programs, self-managed teams, and task forces have boosted diversity in businesses. Some of the most effective solutions aren’t even designed with diversity in mind.

Linked article provides the data, the interviews, and company examples to shed light on what doesn’t work and what does work for DEI Programs.


  • A number of companies have gotten consistently positive results with tactics that don’t focus on control. They apply three basic principles: (1) engage managers in solving the problem; (2) expose managers to people from different groups; and (3) encourage social accountability for change.
  • Do people who undergo training usually shed their biases? It turns out that the positive effects of diversity training rarely last beyond a day or two, and a number of studies suggest that it can activate bias or spark a backlash.
  • Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance. Voluntary training evokes the opposite response, leading to better results.
  • When managers actively help boost diversity in their companies, they begin to think of themselves as diversity champions.
  • As an example of a program that works is a college recruitment program targeting women and minorities. Colleges find that managers willingly participate in recruitment programs when invited. That’s partly because the message is positive: “Help us find a greater variety of promising employees.” And involvement is voluntary.
  • Mentoring is another way to engage managers and chip away at their biases.
  • There is evidence that contact between groups can lessen bias.