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.