A call for intervention: Lack of diversity in career pyramids

[We’re pleased to welcome author Claartje J. Vinkenburg of VU University, Amsterdam. Vinkenburg recently published an article in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences entitled, “Engaging Gatekeepers, Optimizing Decision Making, and Mitigating Bias: Design Specifications for Systemic Diversity Interventions.” Below, Vinkenburg discusses the motivation for pursuing this research, along with future applications. From Vinkenburg:]

3374725110_74426ba883_m.jpgWhat inspired you to be interested in this topic? I was triggered by the cover article of the July 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review which stated that diversity efforts fail. I have seen such failures, but also examples of quite successful diversity interventions in up-or-out systems such as academia and professional service firms that deserve a wider audience of researchers and practitioners. This journal and especially the special issue addressed questions around systemic change that provided a great fit with my story of design specifications for successful diversity interventions.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? I was surprised to discover in writing the article but also in presenting it in various forms to different audiences that so many people are unaware of the existence and effects of bias, and firmly believe that the way people are promoted in their organizations reflects meritocracy. Making them aware is one thing, but doing something about it is a wicked problem that requires working through paradox.

How do you see this study influencing future research? While the successful diversity interventions described may not challenge meritocracy directly, but they help to achieve ³true² meritocracy by reducing bias in the assessment of merit, focusing on the often capricious application of criteria in performance evaluation and/or reward allocation. Future action research or intervention studies could look at mediated sensemaking and other forms of working through paradox with gatekeepers, as well ways to de-bias our HR or people decision making such as selection and promotion.

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Diversity pyramid photo attributed to Ben Mason (CC).

This entry was posted in Decision making, Diversity, Minority, Science by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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