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Why Diversity Programs Fail - Case Study Example

5 pages
1240 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Case study
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Diversity is a state of having a variety of elements in a collection. These things may differ regarding quality and appearance for example color, texture, length, origin among other characteristics. Diversity can also apply to humans, where a community or an organization is composed of individuals from different backgrounds, race, and ethnicity, sexual orientation, minority or majority, academic qualification and it is not limited to these examples. Organizations for many years have been encouraged to embrace diversity, especially in their personnel. The companies should avoid discrimination of their employees, clients and the everybody at large. Lack of diversity which is discrimination and has cause dissatisfaction among many and in several instances, lead to violence example fights against racism in the United States (Fujimoto, Fujimoto, Hartel, and Hartel, 2017 p1123). So, the question that keep arising despite many programs in place to end discrimination is why diversity programs fail?. This paper explores the programs that have been tried to encourage diversity and the reasons for their failure.

First, is the use of court systems to enforce laws in place that promote diversity. So, many countries have put in place laws to curb discrimination; however, even with all these regulations, the vice can still be seen in many organizations today. This has been evident in series of high-profile lawsuits that over the years have hit the financial industry (Fujimoto et al., 2017 p1123).

Some of the lawsuits have seen companies jet out a lot of money. To settle sex discrimination claims, Smith Barney Lynch and Morgan Stanley, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, shelled out more than $100 million and $ 54 million respectively. Furthermore, other lawsuits surfaced in 2007 which Morgan faced that lead to the company losing $ 46 million and race discrimination in 2013 that was about $ 160. All these unnecessary expenses could have been avoided if their way diversity. The managers feel coaxed through lawsuits, the reason they have continued to face many of them despite the company loses. This had worsened the situation when figures of black, Hispanic and women employees in commercial banks showed a downward trend and even regarding promotions. Between 2003 and 2014, the representation of black men dropped from 2.5% to 2.3% as that of women fell from 39% to 35% (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016 p52).

Attempts to outlaw bias have also been tried. The approach of classic command-and-control that has been favored by the top management has to no small extent undermine diversity. Managers would want to hire people they can control and tell them their dos and do not without being constrained by anybody. Studies have noted that shaming and blaming the managers at any point cannot bring them on board to help bring a stop discrimination (Walker, Stanton, Salmon, and Jenkins, 2014p 704).

Diversity training imposed has also not yield desired fruits either. History holds that such training has been there for a long time even before the second world war. They have been conducted with the primary aim of making people shed off of their biases. On the contrary, it seems that once people are through with such sessions, they forget immediately the responses they gave in the questionnaires. The desired effect of training is not achieved has the lessons learned are not implemented in their work settings.

The people expected to be changed through diversity programs have done precisely the opposite of these programs. Poor returns have been experienced almost in all fields. Managers have resisted strong-arming and instead lessen diversity. The minorities and women have been hurt when they are tested as job applicants despite them performing better and managers failing to interpret test results consistently if testing is conducted.

So, what can be done differently to make the programs work? To answer the question, this part is where SWOT analysis, the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats of the programs, is applied. First, is to start using positive messages in training. It is considered a strength that trainers know that they should impart to the managers and employee but there may weakness is inferior ways of doing it. Seventy-five percent (75%) of their messages are negative. Trainers should understand that; converts are not won by negative incentives. For instance, threatening people, they will pay the price if the discriminate as discussed in lawsuits above does not stop them. Instead, the trainer should take advantage of the opportunity given in such forum to provide more favorable benefits that come with diversity. A statement like embrace diversity, and ripe diverse ideas would create attention and managers would attempt to get different people on board. Business-oriented minds are ever in search of ideas and will look for them even if it means embracing diversity can bring it (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016 p54).

Secondly, using voluntary training. People will be pro-something that they choose to do by themselves without being forced. Statistics have shown positive results with those attending optional training that is; there was no decline in some women in management as those of Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanic men increased from 9%-13%. Various researches conducted have affirmed a positive trend due to voluntary training.

Looking at the implications due to involuntary training, it is true that people would respond to such training with anger and resistance. Managers would express that anger by being crueler and uncompliant to the teachings. The minority will be the looser for that matter. Companies do force manager to training by sucking threats. This is a weakens and at the end of the day diversity would be undermined in the process. In a case where discrimination has been reported, it is prudent to take everyone in the entire organization through training rather than selecting the accused who might feel implicated and chooses to resist (Alhejji, Garavan, Carbery, O'Brien, and McGuire, 2016 p 101).

Finally, involving dialogue to solve discrimination case. Instances where an employee in one way or the other has been downplayed by discrimination, they should launch complains to bodies that would not victimize either party. It would be considered mans to man talk; here, the two parties address the issue and an understanding is reached. The individuals would feel appreciated that their side of the story has listened. On the contrary, managers have responded poorly to other methods of enhancing diversity (Alhejii et al.,2016 p102). For example, using hiring test where managers would not wish to be limited in employing the people they want; Rater determining the performance of workers to identify the best and reward them have lowballed the minority and women and Lastly, managers have belittled workers who launch compliant through grievance procedures (Dobbin and Kalev, 2016 p58).


Attempts to embrace diversity have been fought with equal force by the managers and hiring teams in different organizations for many years. It has made people think that the programs put in place have failed. This paper has discussed the question, why diversity programs fail? Different programs have been highlighted, their success rate, or difficulties. Analysis and recommendations have also been exploited.



Alhejji, H., Garavan, T., Carbery, R., O'Brien, F., & McGuire, D. (2016). Diversity training program outcomes: A systematic review. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 27(1), 95-149.

Dobbin, F., & Kalev, A. (2016). DIVERSITY Why Diversity Programs Fail and what works better. Harvard Business Review, 94(7-8), 52-60.

Fujimoto, Y., Fujimoto, Y., EJ Hartel, C., & EJ Hartel, C. (2017). Organizational diversity learning framework: going beyond diversity training programs. Personnel Review, 46(6), 1120-1141.

Walker, G. H., Stanton, N. A., Salmon, P. M., & Jenkins, D. P. (2014). Human performance under two different command and control paradigms. Applied ergonomics, 45(3), 706-713.


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