Over the past year, commentators have suggested a wide range of strategies for individuals and organizations to become more anti-racist. While these strategies are important and timely, white backlash directed at their implementation threatens to sow further racial division. Indeed, white men, who commonly occupy positions at the top of organizational hierarchies, are more likely to perceive diversity policies and messaging as threatening, which can lead to more rather than less inequality within organizations. This is not a new phenomenon: A review of data from 829 firms over 30 years revealed that diversity programs that attempt to control managers’ behavior (e.g., mandated diversity training, grievance systems, etc.) result in more rather than less bias and, as a result, tend to produce the opposite of their intended results.

In the face of such backlash, leaders who aim to implement lasting change in their…

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