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.”
Political polarization in the U.S. is at its highest level in decades. This isn’t surprising, especially in the wake of the recent presidential election.
It’s hard to go on social media, much less cable news these days and not see reports that support one political side and vilify the other. Is there any hope for bringing the country closer together? We think so.
In a recent study, we found that the way information is presented can influence political polarization. When it is presented in a way that engages people in an objective analysis of the information at hand, political polarization can decrease. Yet when the same information provokes people to think about their relevant political preferences, people remain polarized.
In other words, people might moderate their views when they have more information on how a contentious policy works, but not if they’re busy thinking about what they want or why they want it.
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 »
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.
The killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African American teenager from Florida—and the jury’s subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman, the white man who shot him. The fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager from Ferguson, Missouri, by white policeman Darren Wilson—and the decision by a grand jury not to indict the officer. The massacre of nine African Americans by a white supremacist at a Charleston church in June 2015. These are just a sampling of violent racially charged incidents that have taken place over past three years.
These episodes have sparked rage, disillusionment, sorrow, resentment, and confusion. According to a New York Times/CBS News pollconducted last month, nearly six in 10 Americans, including majorities of both white and black people, think race relations in the US are generally bad, and nearly four in 10 say the situation is worsening.
Yet in spite of this awareness and introspection, our country is still incapable of a coherent, intelligent national conversation about race. Indeed, the subject of race is so sensitive and so volatile that most people are apt to avoid it altogether. Why is that?