Diversity training is making things worse

Diversity training is making things worse. By Dan Hannan.

Every new British lawmaker is required to take one obligatory course. Can you guess what it is about? How to move an amendment, maybe? Correct etiquette in the chamber? The proper registration of your financial interests? Election law?

Of course not. The sole mandatory training course is called “Valuing Everyone Equally.” That doesn’t really surprise you, does it? Identity politics has been sacralized, lifted out of the realm of reasoned debate, and turned into a question of faith. We are expected to invoke “diversity” as a prelude to anything we say — a bit like those Muslims who preface every statement with, “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”

In 17th-century England, admission to town corporations and universities was subject to what were known as the Test Acts. To be allowed in, you had to declare, under oath, that you did not hold the belief that the bread and wine used in communion became the body and blood of Christ. To modern eyes, it seems an extraordinary precondition for being allowed to, say, study languages. But that’s the thing about these moral panics: When you’re in the middle of one, you accept all sorts of things which, with perspective, seem utterly bizarre.

Which brings us to the current obsession with anti-discrimination workshops. It so happened that, at the same time that I was taking my compulsory course on Valuing Everyone Equally, my teenage daughter was being made to take an Unconscious Bias Test so as to be allowed to study French and linguistics. If you think that is any more relevant than asking her to abjure the doctrine of transubstantiation, I’m afraid you are inside the woke matrix. …

Does diversity training actually work? Yes, though not in the ways they intended. But they still get paid the big bucks, so it’s all good.

More and more people are making a living out of it. But logically, there ought to come a point when they become redundant. After all, if workshops eradicate prejudice, then, eventually, there will be no prejudice left.

Curiously, almost no one bothers to measure the effectiveness of these sessions. Because we are dealing with sacred values, their intrinsic worth is assumed.

Yet, the few academic studies that have sought to evaluate their utility have come up with a striking finding. They are not just ineffective but counterproductive. In other words, they don’t simply waste everyone’s time. They actually implant negative feelings where none previously existed. …

  • For example, the scenarios would often introduce participants to new stereotypes. (“Really? Is that what Koreans are supposed to be like?”)
  • Some would become more comfortable expressing bigoted sentiments, having been told that these views were normal and widespread.
  • White people, especially those who saw themselves as educated and liberal, would become prejudiced against poor whites.
  • People from minority groups would start feeling wounded by supposed micro-aggressions that they had previously seen as wholly inoffensive. …
  • An astonishing eight in 10 black people believe that a black man is more likely to be killed by the police than in a traffic accident. (Obviously, that is nowhere near to being true.)