As another resource on effective D&I practices, HBR just published a new piece on “Diversity and Inclusion Efforts that Really Work.” It summarizes a detailed report on this topic, which “offers concrete, research-based evidence about strategies that are effective for reducing discrimination and bias and increasing diversity within workplace organizations [and] is intended to provide practical strategies for managers, human resources professionals, and employees who are interested in making their workplaces more inclusive and equitable.”
Very interesting to see this data- thanks so much for collecting it and writing it up! I hope future versions of the EA Survey will adopt some of your questions, to get a broader perspective.
Thanks Ben! That’s an interesting reference point. I don’t think there are any perfect reference points, so it’s helpful to see a variety of them.
By way of comparison, 1.8% of my sample was black (.7%) or Hispanic (1.1%).
I don’t think placing no value on diversity is a PR risk simply because it’s a view held by an ideological minority. Few people, either in the general population or the EA community, think mental health is the top global priority. But I don’t think EA incurs any PR risk from community members who prioritize this cause. And I also believe there are numerous ways EA could add different academic backgrounds, worldviews, etc. that wouldn’t entail any material PR risk.
I want to be very explicit that I don’t think EA should seek to suppress ideas simply because they are an extreme view and/or carry PR risks (which is not to say those risks don’t exist, or that EAs should pretend they don’t exist). That’s one of the reasons why I haven’t been downvoting any comments in this thread even if I strongly disagree with them: I think it’s valuable for people to be able to express a wide range of views without discouragement.
Glad this is something you're tracking. For reference, here's the relevant section of the annual review.
To clarify, my comment about EA's political skew wasn't meant to suggest Larks doesn't care about viewpoint diversity. Rather, I was pointing out that the position of not caring about racial diversity is more extreme in a heavily left leaning community than it would be in a heavily right leaning community.
Thanks Ben! Great to see 80K making progress on this front! And while I haven’t crunched the numbers, my impression is that 80K’s podcast has also been featuring a significantly more diverse set of guests than when the podcast first started- this also seems like a very positive development.
Given the nature of your work, 80K seems uniquely positioned to influence the makeup of the Longtermist ecosystem as a whole. Do you track the demographic characteristics of your pipeline: people you coach, people who apply for coaching, people who report plan changes due to your work, etc.? If not, is this something you’d ever consider?
Thanks Sky! I’ll be in touch over email.
Agreed - though many of the more successful diversity efforts are really just efforts to make companies nicer and more collaborative places to work (e.g. cross-functional teams, mentoring).
Agreed. This makes those sorts of policies all the more attractive in my opinion, since improving diversity is just one of the benefits.
I'm also a little sceptical of the huge gains the HBR article suggests - do diversity task forces really increase the number of Asian men in management by a third? It suggests looking at Google as an example of "a company that's made big bets on [diversity] accountability... We should know in a few years if that moves the needle for them" - it didn't.
I’m also skeptical that particular programs will lead to huge gains. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that Google’s efforts to improve diversity haven’t worked. The article you cited on that was from 2017. Looking at updated numbers from Google’s site, the mix of new hires (which are less sticky than total employees) does seem to have shifted since 2014 (when Google began its initiatives) and 2018 (most recent data available). These aren’t enormous gains, but new hires do seem to have become notably more diverse. I certainly wouldn’t look at this data and say that Google’s efforts didn’t move the needle.
Women: 30.7% in 2014 vs 33.2% in 2018 (2.5% diff, 8% Pct Change)
Asian+: 37.9% in 2014 vs 43.9% in 2018 (6% diff, 16% Pct Change)
Black+: 3.5% in 2014 vs 4.8% in 2018 (1.3% diff, 37% Pct Change)
Latinx+: 5.9% in 2014 vs 6.8% in 2018 (.9% diff, 15% Pct Change)
Native American+: .9% in 2014 vs 1.1% in 2018 (.2% diff, 22% Pct Change)
White+: 59.3% in 2014 vs 48.5% in 2018 (-10.8% diff, -18% Pct Change)
The HBR study you cite actually says the evidence shows that some types of programs do effectively improve diversity, but many companies employ outdated methods that can be counterproductive.
Despite a few new bells and whistles, courtesy of big data, companies are basically doubling down on the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s—which often make things worse, not better. Firms have long relied on diversity training to reduce bias on the job, hiring tests and performance ratings to limit it in recruitment and promotions, and grievance systems to give employees a way to challenge managers. Those tools are designed to preempt lawsuits by policing managers’ thoughts and actions. Yet laboratory studies show that this kind of force-feeding can activate bias rather than stamp it out. As social scientists have found, people often rebel against rules to assert their autonomy. Try to coerce me to do X, Y, or Z, and I’ll do the opposite just to prove that I’m my own person.
In analyzing three decades’ worth of data from more than 800 U.S. firms and interviewing hundreds of line managers and executives at length, we’ve seen that companies get better results when they ease up on the control tactics. It’s more effective to engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability—the desire to look fair-minded. That’s why interventions such as targeted college recruitment, mentoring programs, self-managed teams, and task forces have boosted diversity in businesses. Some of the most effective solutions aren’t even designed with diversity in mind.
The rest of the article has some good examples and data on which sort of programs work, and would probably be a good reference for anyone looking to design an effective diversity program.