The Origins and Effects of Corporate Diversity Programs

Oxford Handbook of Diversity and Work, pp. 253-281, Quinetta Roberson, ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 2013

73 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2013 Last revised: 19 Jun 2013

See all articles by Frank Dobbin

Frank Dobbin

Harvard University - Department of Sociology

Alexandra Kalev

Tel Aviv University

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Corporations have implemented a wide range of equal opportunity and diversity programs since the 1960s. This chapter reviews studies of the origins of these programs, surveys that assess the popularity of different programs, and research on the effects of programs on the workforce. Human resources managers championed several waves of innovations, from corporate equal opportunity policies and recruitment and training programs in the 1960s; to bureaucratic hiring and promotion policies and grievance mechanisms in the 1970s; to diversity training, networking, and mentoring programs in the 1980s; to work/family and sexual harassment programs in the 1990s and beyond. It was those managers who designed equal opportunity and diversity programs, not lawyers or judges or government bureaucrats. Corporate take-up of these programs remains very uneven. Statistical analyses of time-series data on the effects of corporate diversity measures reveal several patterns. Initiatives designed to quash managerial bias, through diversity training, diversity performance evaluations, and bureaucratic rules, have been broadly ineffective. By contrast, innovations designed to engage managers in addressing slow progress on workforce integration, through mentoring programs, diversity taskforces, and full time diversity staffers, have led to increases in diversity in the most difficult job to integrate, management. The research has clear implications for corporate and public policy.

Keywords: Diversity programs, Diversity taskforces, Mentoring, Diversity training, Workforce diversity

Suggested Citation

Dobbin, Frank and Kalev, Alexandra, The Origins and Effects of Corporate Diversity Programs (2013). Oxford Handbook of Diversity and Work, pp. 253-281, Quinetta Roberson, ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2274946

Frank Dobbin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Sociology ( email )

33 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alexandra Kalev

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, 6997801
Israel

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