Diversity Training Increases Prejudice An "Activates Bigotry" Among Participants, New Study Says

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Feb 14, 2024 - 12:40 AM

Authored by Lee Harding via The Epoch Times,

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training is divisive and counter-productive and can even serve to increase prejudice among participants, a new study by a Canadian professor says.

David Haskell released his study for the Aristotle Foundation for Public Policy on Feb. 12. The social scientist and associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University says DEI training does more harm than good and calls his findings a “reality check.”

“A growing number of high-profile cases suggest that diversity workshops and their supporting materials regularly promote questionable claims—particularly about the overarching, malicious character of the majority population. Similarly, hostility toward those who challenge DEI claims is part of the pattern,” Mr. Haskell wrote.

“The national and international research shows there is often a disconnect between the evidence and the claims of DEI advocates.”

In an extreme example, Richard Bilkszto, a 60-year-old Toronto District School Board principal who had challenged DEI claims, took his own life on July 13, 2023. His lawyer, Lisa Bildy, suggested that harassment he received following DEI training in 2021 directly contributed to his death. A Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) ruling confirmed that he had been the subject of “workplace harassment and bullying.”

Claims that Canada and other Western countries are “systemically racist” are not borne out by a statistical analysis of “differences in outcomes,” Mr. Haskell’s paper states. It cites foundation colleague Matthew Lau, who wrote: “The data on disparities in income, educational attainment, occupational outcomes, and public school test scores show that, on average, Asians are doing better than the white population.”

The paper also argues that the purported positive results of DEI training are as questionable as its premise and that a focus on “implicit bias, white privilege, and micro-aggressions” do not foster harmony.

“To ‘prove’ the effectiveness of DEI instruction, proponents often point to surveys conducted before and after workshops that show, following training, participants are much more likely to articulate answers that align with the pro-DEI ideas,” Mr. Haskell wrote.

“This type of methodology has drawn criticism and has proven to be unreliable.”

In an annual review of psychology published in 2022, U.S. research psychologists Patricia Devine and Tory Ash criticized DEI proponents’ “proxy measures for success that are far removed from the types of consequential outcomes that reflect the purported goals of such trainings.”

The authors concluded, “Implementation of DT [diversity training] has clearly outpaced the available evidence that such programs are effective in achieving their goals.”

Positive Results Negligible

Numerous systemic reviews and meta-analyses reviewed by Mr. Haskell similarly found that positive results from DEI training are “undetectable or negligible.”

In their annual review of psychology published in 2009, then-Harvard professor Elizabeth Paluck and then-Yale professor Donald Green examined 985 studies and found, “Due to weaknesses in the internal and external validity of existing research, the literature does not reveal whether, when, and why interventions reduce prejudice in the world.”

A subsequent meta-analysis by Ms. Paluck, Mr. Green, and two other researchers, published in 2021, reviewed 418 experiments reported in over 300 manuscripts from 2007 to 2019 and found support for DEI as dubious as before. “Although these studies report optimistic conclusions, we identify troubling indications of publication bias that may exaggerate effects,” the co-authors wrote.

Mr. Haskell said the harms of DEI are more clear than its benefits.

“DEI instruction has been shown to increase prejudice and activate bigotry among participants by bringing existing stereotypes to the top of their minds or by implanting new biases they had not previously held,” he wrote.

In 2018, Harvard sociologist Frank Dobbin and colleague Alexandra Kalev published “Why Doesn’t Diversity Training Work? The Challenge for Industry and Academia” in the journal Anthropology Now.

“Hundreds of studies dating back to the 1930s suggest that anti-bias training doesn’t reduce bias, alter behaviour or change the workplace,” the authors wrote. “Field and laboratory studies find that asking people to suppress stereotypes tends to reinforce them–making them more cognitively accessible to people.”

As far back as 1994, Neil Macrae at UK-based University of Aberdeen and fellow researchers wrote in a paper for a social psychology journal that the strategy of repressing stereotypic thoughts can have a “rebound effect.”

“When people attempt to suppress unwanted thoughts, these thoughts are likely to subsequently reappear with even greater insistence than if they had never been suppressed,” they wrote.

‘Isolation and Demoralization’

Mr. Haskell said DEI training can create a sense of “isolation and demoralization” in people belonging to the “dominant culture” because they are depicted as “fundamentally depraved (racist, sexist, sadistic, etc.)” while other groups are depicted “as important and worthwhile.”

In a 2020 study, Musa al-Gharbi, a sociologist and assistant professor at New York-based Stony Brook University, found that this “clear double-standard” leads many from the dominant group to “walk away from the training believing that themselves, their culture, their perspectives and interest are not valued at the institution.”

“The training also leads many to believe that they have to ‘walk on eggshells’ when engaging with members of minority populations,” he wrote. “As a result, members of the dominant group become less likely to try to build relationships or collaborate with people from minority populations.”

Erin Cooley, an associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at New York-based Colgate University, found in a 2019 paper that among social liberals, learning about white privilege “reduces sympathy, increases blame, and decreases external attributions for White people struggling with poverty.”

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Mr. Haskell explained the logic behind this outcome.

“They were even more hostile toward poor whites, because those people must be categorically lazy … [or] dysfunctional because they have privilege. Why are they not successful?” he said.

“Of course, white privilege completely ignores the thousands of other variables that go into every person, white or black or indigenous. There are so many things that can cause social and economic distress.”

Mr. Haskell said those of Asian descent often succeed in the West due to their high rates of two-parent families and emphasis on hard work, higher education, and personal responsibility. Yet, because this success challenges DEI doctrines of white dominance, Asians get reclassified as whites.

“School boards in the United States, under the influence of DEI ideology and training, they began to deny the existence of Asians and simply call them white. They put them all into one category,” he said.

“White was the catch-all term for oppressor. And so the better you do, the more oppressive you are.”

Asians Reclassified

In a 2023 submission to the U.S. Supreme Court, students of Asian descent were shown to need entrance exam scores 450 points higher than black people to have the same chance of admission at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The combined highest score of math and verbal skills was 1,600, so Asians needed to be nearly perfect.

In the summer of 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the racial quotas as unconstitutional and in violation of federal civil rights law. Mr. Haskell argues in his paper that Canada is different.

“Canada has no such legislation; in fact, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our human rights laws allow for discrimination against the majority population. This constitutional allowance has now resulted in employment postings that, in the name of DEI, explicitly promote reverse or ‘recycled racism.’”

In the interview, Haskell said the riots following the death of George Floyd “opened the spigot larger than ever before on DEI spending.” He hopes his analysis will empower business, government, post-secondary institutions, and public schools to reverse course.

Haskell said DEI trainers are well-paid to do what they do and may sincerely believe they are doing good work despite the findings he outlines. However, he believes proponents at the highest level use DEI instruction “to destroy the existing society.”

“They just want to be able to place blame in the absence of evidence, and that’s what they’re doing,” Haskell said.

“We have a real history in the West of snake oil being passed off as scholarship. And this is just another example of that in a long, long line of con games.”