The Real Reasons Diversity Programs Don’t Work – Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

From Fortune

From Olympic competition to the corporate boardroom, diversity remains a highly relevant and emotionally charged topic.

Making waves recently was an NBC broadcaster at the Summer Olympics in Rio, who drew criticism after attributing the world record-breaking success of Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu to her husband. A Huffington Post columnist immediately took umbrage saying, “When women Olympians win medals, they deserve the credit.”

The need to recognize the contributions and personal drive or ambition of women athletes, regardless of who trains or coaches them, echoed a recent incident in the corporate world: Saatchi & Saatchi Executive Chairman Kevin Roberts was placed on a leave of absence after an interview in which he reportedly said he did not think the lack of women in leadership roles “is a problem.” Roberts was quoted as saying women’s “ambition is not a vertical ambition; it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy.”

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Why your diversity program may be helping women but not minorities (or vice versa) – Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

From Harvard Business Review

When it comes to issues of race, gender, and diversity in organizations, researchers have revealed the problems in ever more detail. We have found a lot less to say about what does work — what organizations can do to create the conditions in which stigmatized groups can reach their potential and succeed. That’s why my collaborators — Nicole Stephens at the Kellogg School of Management and Ray Reagans at MIT Sloan — and I decided to study what organizations can do to increase traditionally stigmatized groups’ performance and persistence, and curb the disproportionately high rates at which they leave jobs. Read More »

Friction matters – how diversity makes us work harder — Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies Evan Apfelbaum discusses how diversity changes the way we behave.

Apfelbaum says the key to social friction is understanding how to use it.

He and his fellow researchers examined how questions of race impacted adults and children, using a game similar to Guess Who? to gauge why people are more hesitant to talk about race as they get older.

Watch the video here.

Evan Apfelbaum is the W. Maurice Young (1961) Career Development Professorand an Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Reframing diversity through lessons on unconscious bias — Lily Chen

MIT Sloan MBA Candidate Lily Chen

MIT Sloan MBA Candidate Lily Chen

How much value is truly created by a room full of women gathering to talk about women’s issues when the problem is a systemic product of social biases held by both women and men? Do these almost exclusively female events further tie “women’s issues” to a certain social stigma?

As a member of MIT Sloan’s Society for Women in Management (SWIM) and former co-president of my undergraduate Society for Women in Business organization with heavy exposure to inclusive leadership and diversity training, I have attended my fair share of conferences and events geared towards women’s empowerment in business – an issue that I care deeply about. Each event has been inspiring both personally and professionally and has offered me phenomenal networking opportunities. Read More »

Diversity and markets — Evan Apfelbaum

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Evan Apfelbaum

We usually think of ethnic diversity as a matter of social policy, not a factor that could impede market bubbles. But new research by me and a team of colleagues suggests a surprising new reason to consider diversity as a hedge against speculative bubbles: in two studies, we find that markets comprised of ethnically diverse traders are more accurate in pricing assets than ethnically homogeneous ones. Our paper, which came out Nov. 17 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), finds that ethnic diversity leads all traders, whether of majority or minority ethnicity, to price more accurately and thwart bubbles. The reason isn’t because minority traders had special information or differential skills; rather, their mere presence changed how everyone approached decision-making.  Traders were more apt to carefully scrutinize others’ transactions and less likely to copy others’ errors in diverse markets, and this reduced the incidence of bubbles.

To conduct our research, we constructed experimental markets in the United States and Singapore in which participants traded stocks to earn real money. We randomly assigned participants to ethnically homogenous or diverse markets. We found that markets comprised of diverse traders did a 58 percent better job at pricing assets to their true value. Overpricing was higher in homogenous markets because traders are more likely to accept speculative prices, we found. Their pricing errors were more correlated than in diverse markets. And when bubbles burst, homogenous markets crashed more severely.

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