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Does Diversity Training Work?: The Broadsheet

June 3, 2019, 12:05 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Emma Hinchliffe here this morning. The DNC makes sure women will moderate 2020 debates, a clinical trial finds a breakthrough on breast cancer treatment, and diversity training doesn’t really work how companies might expect. Have a lovely Monday.


The dish on diversity training. Does diversity training work? For people who already know why it's important: yes. For others, not really.

Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania studied 3,000 employees at a global professional services firm in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The gist of their findings is this: participants who were already most likely to support underrepresented groups in the workplace developed further changes in behavior from the training, like women leaning in more at work or employees of color becoming even more supportive of each other. But participants who started out without much consideration for diversity—mostly white men—didn't change their behavior at all. "A lot of companies are doing these things because they think they work, but we don’t have any evidence to support that," lead researcher Edward Chang, a doctoral candidate at Wharton, told me.

It's a disheartening result: the people who most need diversity training and hold the capital to enact change if they gain something from it aren't absorbing its teachings. "Men and white people hold the most power, and we didn’t see much behavior change among those groups," Chang says. "It's not enough to get to people whose attitudes weren't already supportive."

But one finding was encouraging. The researchers held two different kinds of trainings, one focused on gender and one focused on race. Participating in a diversity training about women at work also improved employees' attitudes and behaviors toward people of color in the workplace.

So, diversity training: effective for people who understand how important it is before they start a session, but not enough to reach the people who most need to change their behavior. And talking about gender in the workplace: beneficial in more ways than one.

A reminder: Fortune's Most Powerful Women International Summit is kicking off this afternoon London time. We'll be back tomorrow with all the news from day one.

Emma Hinchliffe


 Ethics and Elaine Chao. The New York Times is out with a major, global investigation into Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. Her family, at the head of an American shipping company, has ties to the political and economic elite in China, and an official trip to China was canceled over the State Department's ethics concerns after Chao requested family members be included in some meetings. And remember: Chao now oversees the American shipping industry. New York Times

Meet your moderators. Every 2020 debate between Democratic presidential candidates will be moderated by at least one woman and one person of color, according to new rules set by the Democratic National Committee. Some debates in 2016 were moderated by a solo anchor, including Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer—setups that will no longer pass muster.  Refinery29

Paid leave in CT. Connecticut became the eighth state to pass paid family and medical leave on Friday. The bill is headed to the governor, who's expected to sign it into law. Starting in July 2021, Connecticut workers would have access to 12 weeks of replacement wages, capped at $900 a week. Connecticut Mirror

 Going postal. There's a growing push in Washington to provide banking service through the post office to allow people without bank accounts or credit cards to access financial services. Law professor Mehrsa Baradaran is the expert on postal banking many lawmakers are turning to—and a decade ago she was a Wall Street lawyer working in the reverse direction, bringing government help to banks. Wall Street Journal

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Andrea Nahles resigned as leader of Germany's Social Democrats, putting the future of Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government into question. Time's Up Advertising hired Omnicom Group's Christena Pyle as executive director and its first full-time employee. Tyson Foods promoted Noelle O’Mara to CMO.


Breast cancer breakthrough. A new clinical trial has allowed younger, pre-menopausal women with the disease to live longer. Women who took the drug ribociclib alongside hormone therapy were more likely to survive than women who only received hormone therapy. It's a major breakthrough in breast cancer research. NBC News

More Topshop trouble. As Topshop closes all its stores in the U.S., the retail magnate behind the chain, Sir Philip Green, has been charged with four counts of misdemeanor assault in Arizona—allegations that add to the many he already faces in the U.K. Pilates instructor Katie Surridge told police that Green slapped her body and touched her during classes. Green denies the allegations. CNN

Primary challenge. House Democratic leaders took steps to prevent Democratic primary challengers from going up against Democratic incumbents. But those primary challengers are often women—and the effort to keep incumbents safe could halt the diversification of Democratic officeholders. New York Times

Comedy central. The New York Times goes on the road with comedian Bonnie McFarlane, showing us what it's like to do standup with an 11-year-old in tow. McFarlane balances her career with taking care of her daughter, and some of her material gently ribs aspects of current-day feminism. "The last step to equality is poking fun at ourselves," she says. New York Times

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We are louder than they are ... and we are ready to take them on.
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