Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies

Kalev, Alexandra , Frank Dobbin, and Erin Kelly. 2006. "Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies." American Sociological Review 71:589-617

67 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2013

See all articles by Alexandra Kalev

Alexandra Kalev

Tel Aviv University

Frank Dobbin

Harvard University - Department of Sociology

Erin Kelly

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

Employers have experimented with three broad approaches to promoting diversity. Some programs are designed to establish organizational responsibility for diversity, others to moderate managerial bias through training and feedback, and others to reduce the social isolation of women and minority workers. These approaches find support in academic theories of how organizations achieve goals, how stereotyping shapes hiring and promotion, and how networks influence careers. This is the first systematic analysis of their efficacy. The analyses rely on federal data on the workforces of 708 private-sector establishments from 1971 to 2002, coupled with survey data on their employment practices. Efforts to moderate managerial bias through diversity training and diversity evaluations are least effective at increasing white women, black women, and black men in management. Efforts to attack social isolation through mentoring and networking show modest effects. Efforts to establish responsibility for diversity lead to the broadest increases in managerial diversity. Moreover, organizations that establish responsibility see better effects from diversity training and evaluations, networking and mentoring. Employers subject to federal affirmative action edicts also see stronger effects from some programs. This work lays the foundation for an institutional theory of the remediation of workplace inequality, focused on organizational structures allocating responsibility for reducing segregation.

Suggested Citation

Kalev, Alexandra and Dobbin, Frank and Kelly, Erin, Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies (2006). Kalev, Alexandra , Frank Dobbin, and Erin Kelly. 2006. "Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies." American Sociological Review 71:589-617. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2307128

Alexandra Kalev

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, 6997801
Israel

Frank Dobbin (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Sociology ( email )

33 Kirkland Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Erin Kelly

Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
54
Abstract Views
468
rank
370,342
PlumX Metrics