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Privilege Can Be Unlearned

Men can be instruments of inclusion according to a study by Catalyst

white men inclusionIs it possible for leaders with similar backgrounds, specifically white men, to become instruments of inclusion? Somewhat surprisingly the answer is yes.

A group of managers, comprised of mostly white men, who participated in a leadership development program designed to help foster inclusion in the workplace, did experience a change in both mindset and behavior according to a study by Catalyst . The program was conducted at Rockwell Automation by White Men as Full Diversity Partners, which helps organizations leverage diversity by challenging leaders to understand both their own cultural perspectives and the perspective of others.

After only four months in this program the participants “not only became significantly more accepting of the notion of white male privilege” but also showed improvement in other areas as well says Catalyst. The changes included:

  •  Critical thinking about social groups
  • Taking more responsibility for being inclusive
  • Inquiring across cultural differences
  • Listening empathically to others
  • Addressing difficult issues related to differences

An added bonus, colleagues began to notice an overall decrease in workplace incivility. One of the changes noted was a decline in negative gossip.

One of the most surprising things was the participant’s acknowledgement of “white male privilege” in the workplace. Considering that this group comprises the leadership of most companies in corporate America, this program sounds like a step in the right direction.


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