Originally published: April 7, 2016
A new book explains that it's not that hard to change the systems at your company so that the bias of your employees doesn't have a chance to affect business decisions.
Leaning in doesn't always work. If you ask for a raise and you're female, studies suggest that your manager might be less likely to want to work with you afterward; you've violated gender norms. If you get offered a new job and try to negotiate better compensation, it might backfire (in extreme cases, it might even cost you your job offer).
Maybe it's not surprising that it's hard for women to fix gender bias at work on their own. HR departments don't do much better: There's basically no proof that the $8 billion that corporations spend on diversity training workshops have any effect. In some cases, they even make things worse by reinforcing stereotypes. Companies spend millions more on leadership training that also doesn't seem to help women.
Instead of trying to change how biased minds work, a new book argues that companies should redesign systems at the workplace—effectively making it harder for flawed humans to screw up. In What Works: Gender Equality By Design, Harvard economist Iris Bohnet lists a few dozen evidence-based design interventions that could help make workplaces more equal.