Monday, September 21, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Global and the Personal

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew the dangers of a parochial approach to the law. When necessary, she was not afraid to rely on international and comparative law, both as a justice and as a lawyer, to make a case for equality under the law. She drew upon comparative law for her first brief filed in the Supreme Court, Reed v. Reed, in 1970—the first case to prohibit sex-based classification. For the brief, she extensively referenced reports to the UN on the legal status of women in Sweden as well as the UN Charter. In Grutter v. Bollinger, which challenged the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action program, she compared the program to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women' s Temporary Special Measures in Article 4.    

In a 2010 address to American University, she argued that "[t]he U.S. judicial system will be poorer . . . if we do not both share our experience with, and learn from, legal systems with values and a commitment to democracy similar to our own." Learning from others was essential to her, even when it meant breaking down the narrow orthodoxy of nationalist views. In discussing constitution reform in Egypt soon after the Arab Revolution in 2012, she urged the Egyptian lawmakers to look beyond the U.S. Constitution, referencing the South African Constitution. "... if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the Constitution of South Africa," "That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. … It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. "

We are deeply in debt to Justice Ginsburg's impact in changing gender equality laws in the United States. Less is known about her influence in small corners of the world, in places so small, that in Eleanor Roosevelt's words, "they cannot be seen on any maps of the world."   

Rangita de Silva de Alwis, writing above, also shares with us a letter she wrote to the Justice inviting her to Penn Law in 2018 to celebrate her 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court. A letter which the Justice told her reminded her of the important role of fathers as nurturers—a view that shaped her incomparable jurisprudence and legacy. Speaking to Joan Williams, Justice Ginsburg once said: "This is my dream for society....Fathers loving and caring for and helping to raise their kids."      

Dear Justice Ginsburg: 

I am attaching a very personal letter to the formal invitation. I know that my friend Andreas will make sure you get both.  

When my father was visiting at Columbia law School in 1977, he asked his much-admired friend Oscar Schachter for the honor of meeting you. When Prof. Schachter asked him why, he said simply, "I have a little daughter." My father brought back to Sri Lanka for me the photo with the three of you.  Later in the 1980's he bought Tribe's Constitutional Law treatise, and underlined Frontiero v. Richardson for me, reading excerpts aloud to me on warm nights. When I was a law student in Sri Lanka, I insisted that my Dean Sharya De Soysa include the case along with Marbury v. Madison in our comparative constitutional law lecture. After all, my dean was a Harvard woman too. 

In very auspicious ways, that winter of 1994 in Joan Williams' class on Feminist Jurisprudence, the first case we read was Harris v. Forklift -- your first case on the Supreme Court and fittingly on sexual harassment in the workplace. I still remember the excitement in our seminar room as we discussed how you would make a difference on the Supreme Court and in the world.  

I went on to highlight VMI's heightened review standard as well as your early intermediate scrutiny test in Craig v. Boren on sex-based classification in my courses on Women and Comparative Law, which I taught with Judge Nancy Gertner in China. Your work continues to be a leitmotif throughout my life.   

 Twenty-five years after coming to this country and twenty-five years after Harris v. Forklift, I am now at Penn Law. I know that having you with us will make the same difference to our brilliant students that you made in my life. 

Thank you, 


Rangita de Silva de Alwis
University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
Nonresident Leader in Practice at Harvard Kennedy School's Women and Public Policy Program (2019-2021)

Monday, July 27, 2020

Male Allyship as the New Theory and Practice of Gender Equality (Thomson Reuters/ Penn Law Study)

Principal Author: Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Associate Dean of International Affairs,  University of Pennsylvania Carey  Law School  and Leader in Practice at WAPPP, Harvard Kennedy School (2019-2021)

Rangita de Silva de Alwis thanks Vice Dean David Wilkins of Harvard Law School for inspiring this study and Dean Theodore Ruger, Dean of Penn Law School for supporting the work. 

The following excerpt is from an examination of a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School on "Allyship in the Future of Work."

In the Spring of 2020, a team of Penn Law students interviewed 35 male law students on their philosophy on allyship. Responding to over 35 questions, these future leaders from a diverse demographic, examined patterns of behavior, policies, and principles that could advance allyship and break down barriers to gender and racial equality in institutional settings in law, business, and politics. 

Introduction: The Challenge

"Our progress, however, is far from finished. In law, and in most elite professions, men still dramatically outnumber women in positions of leadership. Although half of law students and nearly half of lawyers are women, women make up only one-third of attorneys in private practice, 21 percent of equity partners, and 12 percent of the managing partners, chairmen, or CEOs of law firms. Men also run the corporations that we represent as lawyers: fewer than 5 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. Women are also underrepresented as lawmakers and interpreters of the law, making up about 24 percent of Congress, 18 percent of governors, 29 percent of state legislators, 27 percent of mayors of the largest one hundred cities, 27 percent of federal judges,5 and 35 percent of state appellate judges. Why, despite years of equality in access to voting for lawmakers, do women still trail behind men in the legal profession? To understand what holds us back, I believe we need to look beyond political rights—voting, holding office, jury service—to gendered family norms and the workplace structures that reinforce these norms." 

SEE Kerry Abrams, Family, Gender and Leadership in the Legal Profession. Women and L.1,1 (2020) 
The underrepresentation of women in law and politics in the US in the 21st century unmasks a crisis. Beneath the data lies a human story of barriers, biases, and boundaries that impede the progress of women and minority women. Recent data from the World Bank reveals still quite a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the world, especially in the world of work. For instance, women in 90 economies are legally excluded from certain types of employment. In addition, less than half of the economies covered by the World Bank study have legislation ordering equal remuneration for work of equal value. With regard to parental leave, only 43 economies have paid parental leave that can be shared by mothers and fathers, crucial for the sharing of child care responsibilities between women and men and critical for equalizing the playing field for women and men. As for the economies providing paid maternity leave, almost half of them require the employer to bear the costs either partially or in full and thereby providing a financial incentive for employers to hire men instead of women. Furthermore, 50 economies lack laws protecting women from sexual harassment in the workplace. See World Bank Group, Women, Business, and the Law 2020 (2020).

Despite progress, there exists a subtle bias, or what Deborah Rhode has described as "second-generation discrimination" which is hard to pinpoint (and even invisible) but nevertheless creates a harmful undercurrent of gender bias in the workplace, especially against women of color. These daily indignities and exclusions are often defined as a thousand paper cuts. Even though they do not give rise to a viable anti-discrimination claim, yet collectively, these incidents constitute overtime, very real obstacles, and barriers to advancement for women at work.
The most effective step that can be taken is to get women of color into positions of authority and leadership. For this, male allies need to stand up against the overt and subtle forms of bias that robs the workplace of diverse perspectives and impoverishes the public sphere.

Bold new solutions are needed to alter the legal landscape on inequality, disrupt sexism, “and the structures that reinforce these norms” in the workplace. We posit a theory and practice of allyship as a renewed vision through which to reconceptualize our workplaces and institutions and as a way to address stereotypes, sexism, and sexual harassment. While legal change is key to addressing gender discrimination in the world of work, more subtle forms of discrimination, including implicit bias, unconscious bias, and sexism demand a new generation of strategies and solutions which privilege difference and identity while disavowing stigma, stereotype, and prejudice.
Full citizenship calls for the ability to participate on equal terms in community and society more generally and allyship plays a role in the actualization of citizenship. According to our respondents, while citizenship calls for inclusive interaction, we should guard against a form of allyship that could reflect existing patterns of disadvantage and reinforce existing power relations and the social construction of gender.

Prominent women in Silicon Valley have given expression to their experiences in a masculinized landscape as death (of their careers) by a “thousand paper-cuts” of sexism. Allyship could be the important antidote to expressions of sexism in the workplace. We need to develop allyship as both a theory and practice through renewed conversation and engagement. Yale Law School's Vicki Schultz’ body of work on sexual harassment published in the Yale Law Journal and Stanford Law Review -over a 20 year period views sexual harassment as an expression of workplace sexism, rather than sexuality. “Harassment,” argues Shultz, is a way for ‘dominant men to label women (and perceived lesser men) as inferior and shore up idealized masculine work status and identity." Schultz’s theory challenges a narrow focus: Sexual harassment is a means of maintaining masculine work status rather than an expression of sexuality or sexual desire. Harassment is inked to broader forms of sexist norms that threaten masculinized gender norms. Taking forward her argument, we need new forms of theories and practices to attack masculinized gender norms. Male allyship is one such framework.

As part of the Thomson Reuters/ Penn Law study, see sexual harassment and gender equality laws in the map of fifty states of the United States.

Addressing the Challenge

The aim of this study was to provide a set of criteria to determine laws, policies, practices, and institutions on allyship and begs the question, how can we reshape the future of work on the premise of allyship?

The world of work, as it is, does not privilege allyship. The term itself cannot be collapsed into a single formula. As our interviews showcase, allyship can redress disadvantages, address stigma, stereotypes, and prejudice, while enhancing dignity, equality, voice, and participation. Allyship’s greatest promise lies in its potential to accommodate differences and achieve structural change.

According to respondents, allyship permits us to focus on inclusive interactions and symbiotic relationships, rather than top-down models of authority and interaction Drawing attention to all the dimensions of allyship can help build complementarities and move us forward to a more equal world of work.

A New Generation of Male Leaders Provide Insights on How to De Gender Leadership and Remove Stigma of Using Family-Work Policies

Principal Author: Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Associate Dean of International Affairs,  University of Pennsylvania Carey  Law School  and Leader in Practice at WAPPP, Harvard Kennedy School (2019-2021)

Co-author: Natalie Runyon, Director, Talent, Inclusion & Culture, Thomson Reuters

Rangita de Silva de Alwis thanks Vice Dean David Wilkins of Harvard Law School for inspiring this research and Dean Theodore Ruger, Dean of Penn Law School for supporting this project. 

Reflecting at a time when we are once again engulfed in racial tension, "The ghost of slavery and the curse of racism still threaten us 400 years later..." writes Wendell Nil Larye Adjetey, the W.L. Mackenzi King Fellow and Lecturer at Harvard University. While the murder of George Floyd, pushes our nation into a public reckoning on our racist history, in the same way that the MeToo Movement challenged our collective conscience about sexism in the workplace, we urge an intersectional understanding of systemic bias and an intersectional approach to addressing those biases.

The experiences of women of color cannot be collapsed into the narrow boundaries of race or gender that relegate the identity of women of color to a location that resists a more dynamic understanding of the complexity of identity. For far too long, the law has overlooked the rights of LGBTQ and transgender people. The recent Supreme Court decision has begun the long process of naming the clear intersection of discrimination on the basis of sex and LGBTQ discrimination. However, corporate America and society at large have a long way to go for true equity in the workplace of the future. To expedite this journey in January 2020, Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Associate Dean of International Affairs at Penn Law initiated a research project interviewing Gen Z men, which is among the first of its kind, to look at a way to frame the various intersections of race, gender and multiple identities in the context of allyship for a better workplace of the future. The study revealed an impressive and deep understanding of the role of power dynamics in groups and intersectional nuances for effective allyship among Gen Z men and offered their recommendations concerning work-family policies and gender norms to create a more equitable workplace.

Challenging Masculinized Institutional Structures

Gendered spheres both in work and in private life have the effect of enshrining masculine norms. These masculine/feminine roles date back to the 19th century. To combat these masculine norms and gendered roles, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s litigation strategy in the 1970s was to deconstruct gender by challenging institutional structures that reinforced separate spheres based on gender.[i] In the landmark cases of the 1970s, Ginsburg challenged the Idaho law that favored men over women as administrators of their wives estates[ii] and laws that required breadwinner wives (but not breadwinner husbands) to prove that their spouses were in fact dependent in order to receive certain medical and dental benefits.[iii] Ginsburg also challenged federal laws that gave survivor benefits to homemaker wives of breadwinner husbands but not to homemaker husbands of breadwinner wives.[iv]

Joan C. William argues that: “Placing masculinity at the center of feminist analysis is not the same as placing men there. Instead it involves recognizing that workplace gender bias against women stems from masculine norms in jobs that historically were held by men.”[v] She posits that not only are masculine norms harmful to women’s advancement in the workplace, but that they create pressures on men to perform in a way that is harmful to their health and family stability.

Work-Family Policy Solutions from Gen Z Men

Negative societal attitudes toward parental leave and work-family policies, in general, appear to be changing among younger male white-collar workers. Research from Penn Law and Thomson Reuters on perspectives of allyship among Gen Z men revealed that 88 percent of them indicated that they are likely-to-very-likely to use work-family policies, and 57 percent stated that they were likely not to be influenced by negative perceptions of taking advantage of these policies by their male peers and leadership at their employers.

To emphasize the point about not being influenced by the stigma of peers or executives, one man at Penn Law shared about how he watched the difficulties of his family having to “re-arrange work arrangements, schedules and take time off to help care for his grandfather who had progressive Alzheimer’s disease.”
While employers more and more are offering work-family policies, which include parental leave, flexible hours and remote working, is great progress, the gender gap between moms and dads using them and the corresponding career advancement gap will continue if the organizational culture continues to penalize employees for taking advantage of these policies. To address the challenge, two Gen Z men put it simply. 
  • “Advocating for flexible hours, working from home…helps men and women, and …Flextime should already be policy, and part-time work at commensurate pay should be allowed,” according to one man.
  • Another offered that as a current father and husband, he “need[s] flexible hours, work-from-home options…because I intend to be present for my family and give my wife the same opportunities I have. As a father, I intend one day to work many hours from home, having flex time and, if the case requires, part-time.”

The Gen Z men at Penn Law participating in the research offered several ideas to remove the stigma:

Offer the same amount of leave for moms and dads. Several of those we interviewed indicated that it was important for parental leave to be equal between mothers and fathers—fully paid with the same amount of time off. To underscore the point, one man commented, “As long as you’re only extending childcare leave to [only] women, you’re enforcing the stereotype that their role is child care…Extending it to both parents allows the family to make whatever decision is best for them regarding parental care and child care regardless of gender.”

To reinforce the point, another Penn Law student commented that most of the discrimination events he had witnessed against women in the workplace was in relation to soon-to-be mothers passed over for an important project or promotion because they were about to give birth and be away from the office on parental leave. He offered that “a way of trying to combat this…is to mandatorily grant to male employees parental leave equal to women.”

Mandate taking parental leave. Several of the men suggested that organizations should require parents to take the full amount of parental leave to close the usage gap between moms and dads and to solve the career advancement gap between men women. “I think in general most policies shouldn’t be gender-specific…[and that] everyone should get paid during parental leave and it should be mandatory,” one interviewee said.

The consequence of avoiding the mandate reinforces the status quo. One student shared a story about a discussion of extending equal family leave in his constitutional law class. He stated, “A lot of times because of the types of structural biases we have, women will still end up taking the leave and men will not.” He further elaborated that some members in his class brought up that “even if they had parental leave, they would feel that they could not take it because of the bias in the workplace that they were expected to work through his wife’s pregnancy, delivery, and early child care” because that the unwritten norm.”

Even the young Japanese lawyer talked about the tensions inherent in work-family policies. He said that he is “not likely to use work-family policies,” but saw the benefit of such policies. A Japanese law student, dad of daughters, and someone who quit working in Japan to come to the U.S. for enrollment in law school full time “came to know how hard taking care of them [his children] is” after his family arrived in the States. He added, “This is a really difficult task, so I can guess several men might think that these policies are not beneficial for themselves, though I don’t agree with them.”

De-gendering Leadership and Unmasking Masculinized Expectations

Society has been on a journey to break down what is considered masculine and feminine behaviors and characteristics with the expansion of transgender and gender non-conforming inclusion, but the traditional norms governing what is masculine and feminine is still very much pervasive in our society starting from the very beginning of life through “gendering” baby clothes between blue and pink for boys and girls, respectively. 

Penn Law and the Legal Executive Institute sought to explore this evolution through interviews with Gen Z men in law school asking them about their perspectives on masculinity and leadership and how they impact attitudes towards allyship. You can read emerging insights from the research here.
Most of the law students interviewed at Penn Law shared that hyper-masculine behaviors, which include expectations of self-sufficiency, acting tough, sticking to rigid gender roles, acting heterosexual, not showing emotion, and showing aggression to resolve conflicts are some of the conventional societal expectations. Only 20 percent indicated that they had not been impacted by these norms.

The accounts below show the variety of how social definitions of masculinity adversely impacting these men, underscoring the need to de-gender leadership behaviors because men are carrying these societal norms into the workplace:
  • Tension around crying. One interviewee stated, “Crying is apparently not masculine at all; only women can cry!...But it was a very real thing that I dealt with…the rejection of all that had been deemed “feminine” by the powers that be, whether they be my culture, parents or the media.”
  • Conforming to rigid gender roles. One man characterized masculinity as “100 percent performance.” As a bi-sexual man, he states, “I have to perform the way I act, the way my voice is, the way I move my hands, and the way I dress...All of this is also fundamentally tied to stereotypes about masculinity.”
  • Acting tough. Another man revealed that perceptions around toughness had impacted him his whole life. He was bullied as a kid because he was perceived by others as weak and “felt pressure to work out and put on muscle to make myself seem more intimidating.”
  • Demonstrating heterosexuality. Still another person interviewed admitted how peers questioned his sexual orientation when he advocated on behalf of women. “I definitely feel judgment when I speak out on behalf of women…. You get comments questioning whether you’re straight (heterosexual) or not…”.

One-fifth of the men expressed a more nuanced set of experiences in the need to adhere to masculinity, and the shift in understanding during the journey from childhood to adulthood was the common theme. One Gen Z man of color revealed that his belief system about masculinity was informed by his religion and ethnicity, “but as I have become an adult, I am no longer directed by such stereotypical/trope related sentiments.” Another male student explained that while he and his peers were socialized to comply with gender norms in the past they don’t apply “much to his experience now.” However, he noted that he knows a number of people who would identify with hyper-masculine behavior descriptors.

Finally, a small minority—ten percent—outright rejected the need to obey the “rules of masculinity.” To illustrate, one man elaborated. “I have quite enjoyed, from an early age, showing dissent through non-conformity with masculine norms…and the critical self-analysis that has resulted, in which I spend time thinking about whether certain attributes I possess are a product of societal norms or my own choice.”

No matter where one falls on the spectrum of the giving in to the insistence of gender norms by society, what is true is that they do not serve men, women or GNC individuals and that there is too much emphasis on applying a gender label to leadership traits, behaviors, hobbies, and apparel. In the words of a fellow participant and fellow member of the allyship research team, “We’re at a point where we’ve acquiesced in the gendering of (or overt association with a particular sexual orientation) fragrances, interior and exterior car colors, hairstyles, sports interest, and dance or acting ability, to name just a few. This is a status quo worthy of prompt disruption. We’re hurting one another and ourselves when we agree to play by rules, we did not ourselves write.”

Thanks David Wilkins of Harvard Law School and Dean Theodore Ruger of Penn Law School for their support.

[i] Joan C. Williams, Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter 93, 115 (Harvard University Press 2010).
[ii] See e.g. Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971).
[iii] See e.g. Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973).
[iv] See e.g. Weinberger v. Weisenfeld, 420 U.S. 636 (1975).
[v] Id. at 98.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Unintended Consequences of Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives: Lisa Leslie’s Recent Work & Ideas for Putting her Framework to Use

By Rebecca Temkin and Taimi Itembu

I.         Introduction

Increasingly, evidence shows that organizational diversity and inclusion initiatives (DIIs) are frequently ineffective, or worse, that they lead to worse diversity and inclusion related outcomes.  For example, data shows that standard sexual harassment training may actually worsen behavior among certain employees, leading to increased rates of harassment following trainings (Dobbin & Kalev, 2017).  Professor Lisa Leslie, a thought leader in organizational diversity, seeks to understand and explain the mechanisms by which organizational DIIs are failing. Recently, she has developed a broad theory to explain the unintended consequences of DIIs.

In her 2019 WAPPP presentation, Leslie presented her framework of unintended consequences, which may be used to anticipate, evaluate, and ward against unintended consequences of diversity and inclusion efforts. Specifically, she discussed four types of unintended consequences that result from such initiatives, four signals (ie. interpretations of DIIs) that give rise to the typology of unintended consequences, and the implications of this soon-to-be-published theory for organizational DIIs (Leslie, 2019).

II.         Leslie’s 4 Types of Unintended Consequences

Leslie posits that well-intended DIIs seek to achieve three main outcomes: increased representation of the target group, especially organizational leadership; reduced gaps in career success between the target and non-target groups; and increased feelings of inclusion among target group members.  However, research shows that DIIs produced mixed results.  Thus, Leslie developed a theory to explain the heterogeneous effects of DIIs.  This theory recognizes four types of unintended consequences - backfire, negative spillover, positive spillover, and false progress - which result from multiple and overlapping signaling pathways.

The four types of unintended consequences can be placed in a matrix (Figure 1), with desirability of outcome along the vertical axis, and the intentionality of the outcome variable itself on the horizontal axis.  A backfire is an undesirable effect on an outcome variable that the policy was trying to impact.   Negative spillover is an undesirable effect on an outcome variable that the policy was not intended to impact. Positive spillover is a desirable effect on an outcome variable that the policy was not intended to impact.  False progress is the appearance of a desirable effect on an outcome variable that the policy was trying to impact, without any true change. 

Unintended Consequences
Outcome variable affected WAS intended to be affected
Outcome variable affected WAS NOT intended to be affected
Undesirable Effect
Negative spillover
Desirable Effect
False progress
Positive spillover
Figure 1.

To illustrate these four unintended consequences, imagine an organization put in place a diversity program with the singular goal of increasing representation of African-American employees in leadership positions.  If the result of the program was a decrease in African-American organizational leaders, this would be backfire, because it is the opposite of the intended effect.  If the program led white employees to resent African-American employees, this would be a negative spillover effect, because this is an undesirable outcome on a variable (attitude of non-target group members towards target group members) that the program did not set out to impact.  If the program led employees to gain increased respect for the organization, this would be positive spillover, because this would be a desirable outcome on a variable that the policy was not trying to impact.  Finally, if the program led to alterations in African-American employees’ job titles to appear managerial without accompanying shifts in organizational structure or responsibilities, this would be false progress, because there would appear to be a positive change on the intended outcome variable without any true change.

III.         Leslie’s Signalling Theory

Leslie notes, that even if leaders have good intentions, implementing diversity and inclusion policies may send signals to other people that lead to unintended consequences. The four signals she talks about that might result from implementation of DIIs are: targets are more likely than non-targets to succeed; targets need help to succeed; the organization values morality; the organization values making progress on diversity goals. We provide examples of each signalling pathway below.

Signal 1 Targets are more likely than non- targets to succeed: 
For example if a non-target employee perceived it to be unfair that black employees are more likely to be promoted as a result of the DII, they may resent African-American organizational leaders, which would be a negative spillover effect.

Signal 2 Targets need help to succeed:
This signal may trigger negative stereotypes.  For example, if African-American employees are more likely to ascend to leadership positions based on the DII, this might trigger non-target employees to perceive target employees as threats.

Signal 3 Organization values morality:

A company with great DIIs may signal that they value morality, prompting greater employee motivation and organizational engagement, two positive spillover effects.

Singal 4 Diversity goal progress is valued:
A DII may signal that the objective is to look good, rather than to improve in diversity and inclusion.  This may translate into “for show” behaviors that do little to increase workplace diversity, which is false progress.

Each of these signals might act through multiple psychological or behavioral pathways, leading to multiple responses and consequences (Figure 2).  Further, the type of DII implemented likely impacts the signals sent or received.  For example, resource-based policies, which typically provide more concrete and practical interventions, such as  mentoring programs for target groups, often signal that target groups are most likely to succeed or that the targets are in need of help. Non-discrimination policies sometimes referred to as “identity-blind” practices, seek to ensure that hiring and promotions are based on skills and qualifications and not on demographics. Non-discrimination policies send a strong signal that morality is valued. Accountability initiatives create mechanisms that assign responsibility for and monitor diversity outcomes, and often signal that meeting DII goals is the organization’s focus, rather than improving diversity itself, making these initiatives more likely to lead to false progress.

IV.         Discussion

The identities of organizational leaders implementing DIIs and other setting-specific characteristics are likely to impact the signals at play, and therefore the potential unintended consequences of any given DII.  Leslie acknowledges this, and indicated, much the way Iris Bohnet did when asked how to anticipate what instruments will be most effective for de-biasing organizational systems and procedures (Bohnet, 2019), that every setting is extremely nuanced and must be assessed individually. 

The desire for a more nuanced theory or framework speaks to a tension common to many implementation-focused disciplines and practices.  Namely, there is a paradoxical desire for a framework to be ‘one-size-fits-all’ -- applicable to any case -- and simultaneously detailed and nuanced enough to appropriately address the unique features of each setting in which it is applied.  Unfortunately, such a framework does not exist for organizational diversity, and indeed, may never be possible or appropriate.  However, Leslie’s framework of types and causes of unintended outcomes is a tool that can be used to assess existing and potential DIIs, to anticipate and minimize the undesirable unintended effects, and to maximize the desirable unintended effects.

V.         Recommendations: What Works

For organizations seeking to implement DIIs, we urge leaders to anticipate the unintended effects of potential programs, using Leslie’s framework as a guide.  Consider the signals a given policy might send in the specific organizational context - will race, gender, parental status, employees or other characteristics of program leadership impact how your new policies are viewed?  What strategies might you use to mitigate or counteract anticipated negative interpretations of your new policy?  Attitudes, communication, and behaviors from organizational leaders will have tremendous impacts on the success or failure of DIIs, because as Dobbin and Kalev say, “culture is shaped from the top” (Dobbin & Kalev, 2017). 

Thus, CEOs and other leaders need to take a strong public stand - they should be the first in line for DII trainings and programs, and should chair the committees tasked with solving organizational challenges. In the U.S. Armed Forces, in response to alarmingly high rates of sexual harassment experienced by women service members, major anti-harassment efforts were implemented, with increased leadership involvement through anti-harassment messaging, regular trainings, and the establishment of formal and informal reporting mechanisms. Women who reported that their commanders supported these measures also reported less harassment, and greater satisfaction with the organisation’s responses to their complaints (Dobbin & Kalev, 2017).

Next, rather than assuming a new initiative will work, Leslie notes that organisations need to implement a holistic approach to evaluation. It is important to measure not only diversity goal progress, but other mechanisms and outcomes, such as ethical climate perception, 
employee organizational engagement, and employee behaviors.  Essentially, DII leaders must assess progress in ways that guard against “false progress” effects, and allow for discovery of negative outcomes of the initiative. Leslie’s framework of unintended consequences would be a useful guide in developing an evaluation strategy that measures both intended and unintended consequences of DIIs.

Finally, in developing DIIs, representation is a key piece to the puzzle.  As Dobbin and Kalev explain, “harassment flourishes in organizations where few women hold the ‘core’ jobs. Fixing this is about finding power in numbers, not just in authority and hierarchy” (Dobbin & Kalev, 2017).  As explained by Monica Ramirez, a champion for farmworker, Latina, and immigrant women, and a strong supporter of worker-led movements, we must make space for and pass the mic to those who are underrepresented to tell their own stories and become leaders in change (Ramirez, 2019). Organizations seeking to improve in diversity and inclusivity should consider these points seriously, and ensure that the members of groups they hope to lift up hold meaningful positions within the organization and have opportunities to shape new organizational DIIs.

VI.         Conclusion

The impact of any given policy or program will undoubtedly result in heterogeneous effects across different contexts, and while good intentions about increasing diversity and inclusivity are admirable, good intentions are not enough.  With frameworks such as Leslie’s in hand, we now have tools to assess the impacts of those good intentions, and it is time for every organizational leader to ensure that DIIs do not cause more harm than good.