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White men play critical role in workplace inclusion, Catalyst finds

Monday, July 30, 2012  
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Men -- and white men in particular -- play a critical role in creating an inclusive workplace and their leadership training is crucial to advancing diversity goals, according to a recent study by Catalyst.

Catalyst surveyed a group of Rockwell Automation people managers -- mostly white men -- and examined the effect that a company-sponsored leadership development program had on these employees' work lives and the work lives of their closest colleagues. Over the course of four months, Catalyst found evidence the program, conducted by a group known as White Men as Full Diversity Partners, had "a transformative effect, shifting both the mindsets and behaviors of participants.”

Participants not only became significantly more accepting of the notion of white male privilege, but also showed improvement on five critical behaviors for building relationships across difference: Critical thinking about social groups, taking more responsibility for being inclusive, inquiring across differences, listening empathically and addressing difficult issues related to difference, Catalyst reported.

Participants' coworkers also began noticing some of these changes in their colleagues and reported an overall decrease in workplace incivility -- specifically, negative gossip.

Catalyst study


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