By David Pedulla | Harvard Business Review | May 12, 2020
In the wake of major social and political changes over the past decades, leading companies are taking steps to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. Yet progress in most sectors remains tepid. Programs designed to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace often fail. So that leads to a natural question: What’s actually working?
Focusing on solutions to the diversity challenge — rather than on the failures — was top of mind when Devah Pager and I designed a convening in 2018. We brought together leading experts on bias, technology, discrimination, and organizational design, and – rather than documenting the problems that abound – we asked everyone to focus on answering one simple question: What works? (Pager, who was the Peter and Isabel Malkin professor of public policy and professor of sociology at Harvard University, passed away in 2018. The ongoing aspects of our project, I hope, are a testament to her pathbreaking work on racial discrimination and social inequality.)
It was challenging to keep our emphasis on solutions. As became clear, there is no silver bullet. No single solution. Yet, in pushing ourselves to think outside the box and draw on the best empirical evidence that exists, the convening participants identified promising areas where investment, focus, and experimentation have the ability to serve as remarkable engines of change
We dove into these promising areas and produced a report, titled “What Works? Evidence-Based Ideas to Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace.” Here, I highlight five key insights that can serve as tools for those looking to make their workplaces more diverse, more thriving places.