It is difficult not to make immediate, unconscious, inferences about people on the basis of race and sex. In a 2016 HBR article, Johnson and Hekman (2016) found that female or minority leaders who scored higher on diversity valuing (respecting differences, valuing working with a diverse group of people, and feeling comfortable managing people from different racial or cultural backgrounds) were rated worse in terms of competence and performance whereas this was not true for white men. At the same time, Johnson, Kirk, and Keplinger (2016, HBR) suggest that the interpersonal treatment, including sexual harassment, of women in masculine industries can drive women out of these careers. The challenge for the future of organizations will be to find ways to overcome these subtle yet powerful biases. Johnson covers strategies such as engaging men as diversity partners, using the business case for diversity, and interrupting unconscious biases though different cognitive mechanisms. For example, Johnson, Hekman, and Chan (2016, HBR) suggest that shifting the status quo by changing the composition of the finalist pool can minimize bias.
Dr. Stefanie K. Johnson is an associate professor of management at the University of Colorado, Boulder's Leeds School of Business. She did her PhD at Rice University and is particularly interested in the effects of unconscious biases in the evaluation of women and minorities with the goal of finding ways to mitigate those biases. Johnson covers the business case for diversity as it pertains to maximizing global competitiveness. She explains some of the biases that impede diversity initiatives and provides ways of overcoming those biases to effectively promote diversity in businesses and in higher education. The business case for diversity is simple. Organizations that draw their top talent from 100 percent of the population, rather than just 31 percent - the white men - have a stronger talent pool and have the potential to harness the benefits of incorporating differing perspectives. If race and gender balance pays, then why are our organizations so unbalanced? Stefanie has published 40 journal articles and book chapters in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, Academy of Management Journal, and Journal of Applied Psychology. She has presented her work at over 50 meetings around the world including at the White House for a 2016 summit on diversity in corporate America on National Equal Pay Day and the 2016 Harvard Negotiation and Leadership Conference. She has presented on diversity to some of the top companies in America including Phillips 66, Citigroup, Brown-Forman and Ariel Investments. Media outlets featuring Stefanie’s work include: The Economist, Newsweek, Time, CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC, Wall Street Journal. She has extensive consulting experience and has created and delivered leadership development training with an emphasis on evidence-based practice. She has received multiple million dollars in federal and other grant funding to study leadership and create leadership development programs aimed at increasing safety leadership.