Sherry Sylvester

A Better Approach to Diversity Training

Writing in the New York Times last month, cultural iconoclast Chris Rufo pointed out that the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have failed: “Even on its own terms, does D.E.I. actually work? And the answer, according to the best available evidence, appears to be no.”

Citing research into 30 years of DEI training data, Rufo noted that “mandatory diversity training programs had practically no effect on employee attitudes — and sometimes activated bias and feelings of racial hostility.”

DEI programs have failed miserably over the years, even in their most basic functions. As my colleague Sherry Sylvester has reported, after a decade of DEI at the University of Michigan, the largest university in the state, Michigan still has a student population that is less than 4% black even though African Americans make up 14% of the population.

These programs and consultants create conflict and distractions while adding nothing to the bottom line. In fact, many of the practices distract from profitability and the mission of organizations.

There’s a better way. My new book, “The Adversity of Diversity,” shows how a different kind of training is the way to move beyond divisiveness and toward healing.

I and my co-author, Mike Towle, have studied the complex landscape of DEI initiatives, made even more complicated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down affirmative action. We demonstrate that in light of the ruling, DEI programs and policies have an expiration date.

Why? Because racial and ethnic preference policies and programs violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and our nation’s civil rights laws. Therefore, they are vulnerable to successful lawsuits from Whites and Asians.

Our book points to Texas and Florida as states that should be emulated for their wise decisions to end DEI programs in higher education.

Leaders and CEO must set the tone and lead by example.

The Adversity of Diversity” is available now.