Motivated by the idea that, as populations become more diverse, institutions and organisations should reflect this development in the composition of their personnel, Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) have been on many institutions’ agendas for years. This trend has affected the design of political systems, as well as of firms and organisations, with, for example, the introduction of gender quotas, or other policies aimed at increasing DEI. Despite drastic changes to legislative systems and massive efforts by firms, there is very little systematic evidence on the effectiveness of such policies.

Recent evidence points to disappointing results of many DEI policies and highlights their potential hidden costs. For example, the hiring of chief diversity officers, one of the prominent strategies by many institutions towards a more diverse, equal, inclusive, and presumably efficient, workplace, has had no effect on faculty diversity across 462 research institution in the United States (Bradley et al. , NBER working paper no. 24969, 2018)). While Bertrand et al. (2018) find very circumscribed effects of female representation quotas, laboratory evidence is also accumulating that well-intentioned institutional arrangements such as gender quotas might backfire (e.g., Leibbrandt et al. 2017) in ways that are important to understand. Leibbrandt & List (2018), furthermore, provide evidence through a field experiment that Equal Employment Opportunity Statements might backfire. Of course, evidence production through laboratory and field experiments might trade off external validity for experimental control.

The proposed workshop will be organized by the UNSW Business School Research Network on Behavioral Insights for Business and Policy; it will bring together prominent researchers from economics and other business sciences to assess the robustness of the empirical (including experimental) evidence that exists, and to present new evidence and perspectives on the effectiveness of DEI policies and their implications for firms, and for the economy at large.

This workshop will be strictly invitation only, however if you are interested please contact Andreas Ortmann or Pauline Grosjean.

Schedule (minor adjustments still possible):

Morning Theme: Gender Diversity and its Consequences for Firms and the Economy

Experimental evidence on gender differences in preferences has been mounting. The morning session will review some of the consequences of such gender differences (e.g. in acceptance of promotion-irrelevant tasks and risk-taking) and of gender diversity for firms as well as for the macroeconomies (IMF paper Ostry et al.). The session will also look critically at the evidence on gender differences, and namely at the plasticity of such differences as a function of economic development (Science paper by Falk & Hermle).

9:00 – 9:10 Housekeeping and welcome

9:10 – 10:10 Keynote: Renee Adams: Women on Boards (chair: AO)
10:10 – 10:30 Coffee Break
10:30 – 12:00 Presentations and discussion (chair: PG)
Maria Recalde: Women in organisations: task acceptance / leadership
Andreas Ortmann: Gender Diversity and the Economy: the causality may go both ways. Ostry et al.: The Macroeconomic Consequences of gender diversity – Falk & Hermle: Gender preferences along the course of economic development

12:00 – 13:15 Lunch (sandwiches and fruit and water/coffee/tea provided)

Afternoon Theme: Gender Diversity: what to do about it?

Starting from the morning’s evidence that gender diversity matters for firms and the economy, the afternoon session will ask: What can firms (and governments) do about it? We will discuss experimental and happenstance data on the prevalence and effectiveness of DEI initiatives.

13:10 – 14:10 Keynote: Andreas Leibbrandt: The Science of D&I (chair: PG)
14:10 – 14:30 Coffee Break
14:30 – 16:00 Presentations and discussion (chair: AO)
Fatima Jamal Khan: The (null) impact of Diversity Officers
Pauline Grosjean: Corporate Gender Culture: How firms think about gender diversity, what they do about it, and what works?

We have reserved room 2063 in the Quad Building for the whole day.

17:30 – 20:00 Workshop dinner and continued conversations at Japanese restaurant Suishin.