Research & Articles

Latest Research & Articles

Who Pays Tolls at Work, and Who Cruises on an Open Highway?HBR Logo
Harvard Business Review
January 31, 2022
As organizations continue to navigate a changed world amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the reverberations of the Black Lives Matter movement, many of the issues that affect underrepresented groups in organizations, including women of all different races and ethnicities, have resurfaced with intensity. Missing out on opportunities and being excluded from key decisions, talked over in meetings, and overloaded with caretaking responsibilities, women — and other organizational “outsiders” who are different in some way from the majority group — face obstacle after obstacle in their careers. The authors’ in-depth framework for addressing these issues has the potential to connect individual action to systemic change. Their framework is based on the concept of outsider tolls that members of underrepresented groups have to pay while “insiders” cruise along an open road. Here, they illustrate three specific types of tolls outsiders face in organizations — opportunity, influence, and scrutiny tolls — and reframe them as negotiating opportunities for individuals and as focal points to push for organizational learning and change.

Achieving Gender Balance at All Levels of Your CompanyHBR Logo
Harvard Business Review
November 30, 2021
It’s common for organizations to have gender parity or close to it in entry-level roles, only to see the percentage of women employees decrease as you get closer to the top. A deeper dive into the data reveals that the drop-off of women is primarily driven by gender disparities in promotion rates, not gender differences in hiring or retention. To address this challenge, the authors have identified a simple and straightforward concept: the gender proportionality principle (GPP), which stipulates that a given level in an organization should aim to reflect the gender composition of the level immediately below it. They have worked with several organizations that report that the GPP has helped achieve sustainable and predictable improvement in gender equity across ranks.

Behavioral Economics: Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Throughbe-guide-2021-cover-web

The Behavioral Economics Guide 2021
June 16, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic and the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements have exposed deep structural inequities in the United States and around the world. Achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become a core concern for many organizations. This requires behavior change and trade-offs between the short-term costs and long-term benefits associated with DEI. In this editorial, we discuss organizational DEI goals as an evidence-based tool that can address both the will (motivation) and the way (cognition, skills, and tools) of behavior change. Goals generate the will to change, because they involve accountability; induce personal pride and public recognition; convey social norms; induce competitiveness; and work in tandem with other motivational mechanisms, such as financial incentives and feedback. Goals help us tap into the necessary ways to change by focusing attention; prompting effort; inducing persistence; and mobilizing specific, relevant strategies to reach the target. Fundamentally, we argue that organizations should manage DEI the same way they manage all their other business imperatives: through performance goals with deadlines and rewards, underpinned by monitoring and reporting. Reaching DEI goals requires no more and no less than the use of the same planning, feedback, and accountability processes that are employed to achieve goals in other areas.

How to Best Use Data to Meet Your DE&I GoalsHBR Logo
Harvard Business Review
December 3, 2020
From credit card interest rates to listing the calorie content on restaurant menus, data disclosure can be a powerful tool to change behavior. And when done right, the collection, analysis, and disclosure of diversity data holds the promise of being a powerful lever for progress. Organizations looking to make the best use of their diversity data must: 1) Present it in a way that’s simple, salient, and comparable; 2) Leverage it to empower the right people to act; 3) Use it to set goals that create accountability and increase follow-through; and 4) Leverage it to shift social norms around DEI.

What Companies Who Want More Diversity Can Learn From the BBCBehavioral Scientist Logo
Behavioral Scientist
November 9, 2020
Actionable lessions from a case study of the 50:50 Equality Project, whereby a team of BBC journalists dramatically changed gender representation in the media worldwide.

Goals and Targets for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A High Leverage Point WAPPP Logo
to Advance Gender Equality in the U.S. Tech Industry

Women and Public Policy Program
July 29, 2020
Goals, especially public goals, serve a critical function in mobilizing the will and the way to change behavior. This white paper (featured in Snap Inc.'s Diversity Annual Report 2020; executive summary here) argues that U.S. tech companies should manage the challenge of increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and women’s representation the same way they manage all of their other business-related challenges: through performance targets with deadlines and rewards, underpinned by personal accountability.

Overcoming the Small-N ProblemUMass Amherst Logo
Article in What Works: Evidence-Based Ideas to Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace (Guide)
May 12, 2020
What Works offers concrete, research-based evidence about strategies that are effective for reducing discrimination and bias and increasing diversity within workplace organizations. This guide is intended to provide practical strategies for managers, human resources professionals, and employees who are interested in making their workplaces more inclusive and equitable.

Advancing Gender Equality in Venture Capital (Research Study)WAPPP Logo
Women and Public Policy Program
October 9, 2019
This 18-month research project examined how the components of VC industry culture, organizational practices and policies, and patterns of interpersonal interaction affect full gender inclusion in venture capital as well as gender equity in venture funding. In addition to a full final research report, the study produced actionable and evidence-based takeaways for VC firms, individual venture capitalists, and entrepreneurs.

Be like an orchestra: how to eliminate gender bias in venture capital fundingKing's College London
King's College London - Essays on Equality
October 1, 2019
The world of venture capital can learn from orchestra directors, who have combatted gender bias through blind recruitment processes.

Tackling the Underrepresentation of Women in MediaHBR Logo
Harvard Business Review
June 6, 2019
The BBC's 50:50 Project has been remarkably successful at increasing the representation of women in journalism. An analysis of its impact shows that meaningful change on gender equality can be achieved by embracing a growth mindset, providing a simple and tangible tool for achieving change without mandating it, and giving colleagues agency and ownership over the process.

Behavioral ScientistVenture Capitalists Are Using the Wrong Tools to Improve Gender Diversity
Behavioral Scientist
March 12, 2019
Behavioral science offers a proven roadmap to sustainable, systemic improvement on gender diversity in the venture capital industry. Now, it is time for venture capitalists to stop trying to change hearts and minds and start redesigning their firms.


Teaching Cases

Ros Atkins and the 50:50 Project at the BBCLBS Logo
London Business School Case Collection
May 2020
Case study following Ros Atkins, a news program presenter at the BBC, in his quest to reach 50:50 gender representation first on his own show, and later across all of the BBC's journalism globally through the 50:50 Project.

Increasing Gender Diversity in the Boardroom: The United Kingdom in 2011HBS Logo
Harvard Business School Case Collection
July 2019
Case study chronicling a successful multi-year, multi-stakeholder effort to increase the representation of women on the boards of the UK's FTSE 100 companies.


Expert Contributions to Reports

Action to Catalyze Tech (ACT) ReportACT Report Logo
Snap Inc., The Aspen Institute, PwC & National Center for Women & Information Technology
October 28, 2021

Detailed implementation guides on five effective actions to improveBehavioural Insights Team Logo
gender equality:
How to set effective targets
How to establish diversity leads and diversity task forces
How to run structured interviews
How to use skill-based assessment tasks
How to increase transparency of progression, pay and reward processes
The Behavioural Insights Team
September 2, 2021

From Ideal Worker To Ideal Workplace: Using Behavioral Designideas42 LogoTIME'S UP Foundation
to Create More Equitable Companies
TIME’S UP Foundation & ideas42
March 24, 2021

Gender Balance and Inclusive Cultures: A Guide for CEOsThe B Team
The B Team
September 23, 2020

BBC 50:50 Project ReportBBC Logo
May 15, 2019

New America LogoNew Ways to Bring Women Into and Up Through Cybersecurity Careers
New America - Cybersecurity Initiative
Laura Bate, Elizabeth Weingarten

March 28, 2019

UK Equalites LogoUK Government Equalities Office: Actions to Close the Gender Pay Gap
UK Government Equalities Office