Diversity programs fabricate the appearance of corporate fairness

Science Daily: Diversity training programs lead people to believe that work environments are fair even when given evidence of hiring, promotion or salary inequities, according to new findings by psychologists at the University of Washington and other universities.

The study also revealed that participants, all of whom were white, were less likely to take discrimination complaints seriously against companies who had diversity programs.

Workplace diversity programs are usually developed by human resource departments to foster a more inclusive environment for employees, but aren’t typically tested for their effectiveness. Nonetheless, their existence has been used in courtrooms as evidence that companies treat employees fairly.

“Our fear is that companies may prematurely stop thinking about diversity among their workers because they’ve credentialed themselves with these programs,” said Cheryl Kaiser, lead author and a UW associate professor of psychology. “Our findings suggest that diversity programs can be window dressing — even those that do very little to increase diversity may still be perceived as effective.”

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