The role of White men in creating a more inclusive corporate culture has been widely debated. However, Calling All White Men: Can Training Help Create Inclusive Workplaces?, a recent study by Catalyst, shows that when White men participate in leadership development training there is a measurable shift in workplace attitudes and behavior that helps create an environment in which women and minorities can advance.
The study followed employees at Rockwell Automation, a global engineering company, as they participated in leadership training labs run by White Men as Full Diversity Partners.
Key findings of the Catalyst study include:
- An increase in workplace civility and decline in gossip (e.g., snide remarks and behind-the-back comments). In some workgroups, participants’ colleagues rated the incidence of workplace gossip as much as 39 percent lower after the labs, signaling improved communication and respect.
- Managers were more likely to acknowledge that inequities exist. After the labs, there was a 17 percent increase in how much managers agreed that white men have greater advantages than women and racial/ethnic minorities.
- Managers improved on five key behaviors for inclusion. From seeking out varied perspectives to becoming more direct in addressing emotionally charged matters, managers improved on critical skills for leading in today’s diverse marketplace.
- Having cross-racial friendships mattered. Managers without many prior cross-racial relationships changed the most after the labs when it came to thinking critically about different social groups—a 40 percent increase in ratings vs. a 9 percent increase for those with more of these relationships.
- Those who cared the least about exhibiting prejudice changed the most. After the labs, managers who initially were the least concerned about appearing prejudiced were the ones who registered the most significant change in taking personal responsibility for being inclusive, as evidenced by a 15 percent increase in ratings.
“Companies can see a major shift in inclusive behavior when White men acknowledge inequalities and accept that while they didn’t cause the problem, it’s their responsibility as leaders to be part of the solution,” said Ilene H. Lang, President & CEO of Catalyst. “We can’t rely only on women and minorities to advocate for culture change. The results are much more powerful when White men, who are most often in leadership positions, are also role models.”