My research agenda examines how diversity policies and practices affect racial inequality. This includes work to examine how racial status differences affect interactions in diverse organizations and how diversity ideology and the practices it informs affect racial inequality.
My book project with University of California Press is entitled: Why Diversity Programs Fail: How Initiatives Fall Short in Achieving Racial Equity and What to Do About It. In it, I investigate organizational diversity policies and discourses, then extend their effects down to the people who are the object of them. Organizations that embrace racial diversity receive various benefits, including increased market value and legitimacy. The benefits of diversity, however, are not distributed equally. Because many advantages from diversity derive more from deploying symbols than creating effective programs, the benefits of diversity can be focused on the institutions rather than the people inhabiting them. When organizations garner the benefits of diversity via outward displays, there can be insufficient attention paid to the organizational experiences of people of color. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with employees of color across corporations, universities, and multiracial churches, I specifically analyze, “How do employees of color experience their employers’ diversity policies and discourses, and in what ways do these experiences affect racial inequality.” I find that the pervasive commodification of employees of color in the name of diversity leads to heavy work burdens, threatened organizational and personal legitimacy, and subjugated identity- all of which threaten the well-being and opportunities for career advancement of employees of color. This study contributes to an emerging focus on the intersection between organizational and race theory by revealing hidden causes of stratification.