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Vanessa Conzon

Research Findings

The equality policy paradox: helping women advance in the workplace

August 17, 2023

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies aim to improve the experiences of marginalized groups in organizations, yet a large body of research finds that these policies are often ineffective and might even backfire. One previously explored reason is that they can activate biases, generating opposition to policies from majority groups. In a recently published article, I identified another reason why DEI policies might fail, which I label the “Equality Policy Paradox.”

Key Finding: The Equality Policy Paradox

I found that managers who voice the most support for improving equality might also be, contradictorily, the least likely to implement DEI policies. This Equality Policy Paradox may come about because often the managers who are most supportive of DEI policies are themselves members of marginalized groups. As such, they experience career barriers, such as discrimination, that make it difficult for them to practically support DEI policies without harming their own careers.

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