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From the Daily Northwestern:

Despite the millions of dollars companies spend on diversity training each year, these programs are ineffective, said Harvard sociology professor Frank Dobbin in a lecture Wednesday evening. Dobbin spoke to an audience of about 100 in the McCormick Tribune Center as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Center on the Science of Diversity.

In his lecture “You Can’t Make Me: Why Diversity Training Backfires,” Dobbin argued that diversity training simply does not make individuals and institutions more open to diversity.

“Companies with diversity training programs are not more diverse,” he said. “What’s frustrating is, it’s the most popular and most expensive type of program that firms spend time, money and energy on.”

Dobbin identified external sanctions as a key factor in the negative impact of diversity training. For example, if a company does not comply with diversity rules, it can be sued for violating civil rights, he said. This kind of pressure can cause psychological resistance.

“If you tell Billy that he will be punished for taking a certain toy from a pile,” Dobbin said, “Then that is the first toy he will reach for when he is left alone in the room.”

The problem is that firms make it mandatory for their employees to attend diversity training, Dobbin said.

… Sociology professor emeritus Arthur Stinchcombe [He’s a friend of Mr UD’s.] said he has known Dobbin for years and has researched many of the same subjects.

“Since he does very good work, I thought I would learn something, and I did,” he said. “(I learned that) if somebody orders you to have a given sentiment, then you probably won’t have it.”…

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10 Responses to “True Diversity of Thought at Northwestern”

  1. RJO Says:

    > “(I learned that) if somebody orders you to have a given sentiment, then you probably won’t have it.”

    Who would have ever thought that.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    My thought exactly.

  3. RJO Says:

    Certainly not the Res Life folks at Delaware.

  4. dave.s. Says:

    There is a failure of understanding here. Diversity programs are not about trying to change the thought of people working for the companies. They are about providing nice paychecks to the people who put them on. They work fine for that. Think: ‘nice little dry cleaner shop you have here. pity if something should happen to it’.

  5. Michael Says:

    Dave, you misunderstand. Diversity programs are makeup designed to insulate against lawsuits, or at least against judgments. ("See? We’re on the right track: we have workshops!) I’m sure the workshop presenters are sincere and think they’re being effective.

  6. Stephen Karlson Says:

    A training program to protect senior management from liability against lawsuits would not require exhortations to affirm or celebrate (whatever these terms mean) diversity or call for pledges of fealty in tenure dossiers.

  7. Michael Says:

    It would if that’s what the standard model of diversity training looks like. ("But you attempted to train people by a model that no one else uses. That demonstrates that you weren’t serious about diversity training." And the insurance company moves to settle.)

  8. Stephen Karlson Says:

    No, it is quite possible to alert people to the consequences of violating the civil rights laws without creating a new cadre of Marcusians. The campus conflicts about affirming diversity arise because one cadre of administrators goes beyond the bare requirements of the law to cram down its own views on oppression. That’s my best guess where the temptation to take the forbidden toy comes from.

  9. RJO Says:

    It appears South Park has become the principal source of social commentary on this particular topic. I just came across this clip of Tolerance Camp.

  10. Michael Says:

    No, it is quite possible to alert people to the consequences of violating the civil rights laws without creating a new cadre of Marcusians.

    I agree, but you don’t have to violate civil rights laws to be subject to a lawsuit.

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