Closing the Intention-Action Gap

I recently had the privilege of attending a talk by Professor Iris Bohnet of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Her book What Works: Gender Equality by Design, published by Harvard University Press is a great resource to help close what she calls the Intention-Action gap.

Useful reminders from her work include:

  • The question is not “Do we have bias?” it’s “Which biases are we bringing to this conversation?”
  • The business case alone does not work – there needs to be an emotional attachment to the topic.
  • Asking whether Unconscious Bias training works is equivalent to asking “are restaurants good?”
  • Targets – what important business initiative doesn’t have numbers attached?
  • No surprise – the research shows that D&I training on its own is not effective.  Necessary interventions include Education, Priming (leaders using positive priming to reinforce the importance of an inclusive culture), Systems and Structures, and Accountability.

For a useful, comprehensive, — and free! – resource to check the effectiveness of your interventions, get the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks:

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