The aim of this course is to use insights from behavioral science to promote organizational health as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many organizations that are interested in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion don’t know how to achieve their goals. Thus, the course will not only focus on the question of why (Why should we care about diversity, equity, and inclusion?), but primarily on the question of how (How can we promote diversity, equity, and inclusion? How can we leverage differences effectively?).
We will identify why work environments often aren’t equitable – why is it more complicated for certain employees, such as women and racial minorities, to succeed in organizations? We will consider person-centered sources of bias, such as implicit and explicit stereotypes, as well as more systemic/ institutional sources of bias. By diagnosing sources of inequity, we can identify strategies that might help reduce the inequity (of course, no single change can undo all sources of bias).
We will focus our attention on strategies that use behavioral design or “nudges,” which are often more powerful than tactics that raise awareness and less costly and onerous than quotas and rules. Moreover, we will think about using behavioral design for creating equal access at the “gateways” to an organization (things like getting hired for a job and getting admitted to a school) as well as ensuring equal opportunities for success along its “pathways” (things like getting heard, getting credit, and getting second chances).
We will also consider barriers to diversity efforts that must be overcome. For example, an organization cannot learn and improve without being willing to acknowledge that current practices may be problematic and being willing to experiment with something new. Indeed, even with a good idea, implementing it effectively requires buy-in, ally-ship, and rigorous evaluation.
All are welcome. I hope to encourage learning and dialogue among students with a variety of social identities and backgrounds and expect to hear different views on how firms can and should address diversity, equity, and inclusion. Although the class will foreground race and gender dynamics in the U.S. context, we will also consider other dimensions of difference (e.g., class background, nationality, LGBTQ identity, religion, disability, and more) and reflect on these topics in other countries and cultural contexts. It is vitally important for MBA students, who will become the leaders of domestic and global companies, to be informed about how to create the conditions that enable all people to achieve success. Students who take this course will be able to utilize the skills and knowledge taught when making their own career decisions, as well as when managing, being managed by, or collaborating with others of diverse backgrounds.