What Works


What Works offers concrete, research-based evidence about strategies that are effective for reducing discrimination and bias and increasing diversity within workplace organizations. This guide is intended to provide practical strategies for managers, human resources professionals, and employees who are interested in making their workplaces more inclusive and equitable.


What Works: Evidence-Based Ideas to Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workforce are ideals that many companies aspire to. Yet achieving these goals is often challenging. The advice offered by consultants, scholars, and the media can be difficult to make sense of or even contradictory. The chapters of this report cut through cut through all this noise to answer the question: what actually works? 

     Download a PDF of the Full Report


What Works: An Introduction

David S. Pedulla

Together, the chapters in this report offer a wealth of evidence-based insights about how managers can increase diversity, inclusion, and equity in their organizations. Of course, the report can be read cover to cover. But, you can also dive right in to a particular chapter that addresses a pressing issue for your organization. Each chapter can stand alone. Additionally, at the end of each chapter, the authors have included citations to the articles and resources that they have drawn on in their analysis. These reference materials may be of use to you as well. 

Download the PDF

Chapter 1: Do Implicit Attitudes and Beliefs Change over the Long-Term?

Tessa E.S. Charlesworth & Mahzarin R. Banaji

In this essay we report analyses performed on a unique dataset that reveal the first evidence that ISC can, in fact, change over the long-term (10 years). Importantly, we also show that ISC does not always change, and sometimes even changes in harmful directions. We describe evidence that shows both positive and negative trends, where positive trends refer to change in the direction of neutrality (zero bias), and negative trends refer to no change or reverse change, away from neutrality. 

Download the PDF

Chapter 2: Metrics, Accountability, and Transparency: A Simple Recipe to Increase Diversity and Reduce Bias

Elizabeth Hirsh & Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

The best organizational research shows that the magic recipe for achieving diversity is no different from the steps necessary to achieve other business goals. In order to change behavior, firms must develop appropriate goals and metrics, share thems. with stakeholders, and embrace accountability for outcomes. In the case of diversity, this means firms must collect diversity data and analyze them by examining flows over time and comparing them to similar organizations.

Download the PDF

Chapter 3: Making Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Systems Better

Frank Dobbin & Alexandra Kalev 

For decades, employers have used formal grievance procedures to handle both discrimination and harassment complaints.But complainants often face career-ending retaliations. Procedures that provide confidentiality for the accused can prevent serious investigation and protect serial abusers. To avoid the pitfalls of the formal complaint system, employers should adopt a menu of alternatives, including ombuds programs and dispute resolution systems. The formal grievance system can then be reserved for cases where the misbehavior is particularly egregious. 

Download the PDF

Chapter 4: Using Technology to Increase Fairness in Hiring 

Kelly Trindel, Frida Polli & Kate Glazebrook

Although the current state of public conversation around technology in employment selection highlights the potential danger and recent missteps, it is important to keep in mind that traditional analog recruitment and hiring approaches have resulted in a situation that is not working for women and racial/ethnic minority group members. Carefully designed technological solutions cannot be ignored as viable alternatives to a biased human approach. 

Download the PDF


Chapter 5: Overcoming the Small-N Problem 

Iris Bohnet & Siri Chilazi

Small samples negatively affect the quality of the information we use when making group-based estimates. Small samples have higher variability than large samples, so data about a handful of female and minority leaders are less informative than the data about the large cohort of their male and white counterparts. 

Download the PDF


Chapter 6: Context Matters: Moving beyond “Best Practices” to Creating Sustainable Change

Lori Nishiura Mackenzie & JoAnne Wehner

Enhancing diversity and inclusion are priorities for many organizations, yet leaders often lack a clear direction as to how to create the desired change. The aim of the Stanford VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab is to combine academic and realworld insights to develop strategies that will help organizations make their workplaces more diverse and inclusive. To gain this insight, we lead research at companies from a range of industries, including technology and professional services, and meet with leaders at all levels of the organizations. 

Download the PDF


What Works: Firm Case Studies


Collecting LGBT+ Data for Diversity: Initiating Self-ID

M. V. Lee Badgett

This report explores the business rationale and goals of IBM and other companies when adopting inclusive policies and practices, to assess the impact of the policies and practices, and to provide insight for employers who might learn from the experiences of innovators. The series will also serve learning goals for students and other relevant practitioners. 

Download the PDF