Engaging Gatekeepers, Optimizing Decision Making, and Mitigating Bias: Design Specifications for Systemic Diversity Interventions

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In this contribution to the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science Special Issue on Understanding Diversity Dynamics in Systems: Social Equality as an Organization Change Issue, I develop and describe design specifications for systemic diversity interventions in upward mobility career systems, aimed at optimizing decision making through mitigating bias by engaging gatekeepers. These interventions address the paradox of meritocracy that underlies the surprising lack of diversity at the top of the career pyramid in these systems. I ground the design specifications in the limited empirical evidence on “what works” in systemic interventions. Specifically, I describe examples from interventions in academic settings, including a bias literacy program, participatory modeling, and participant observation. The design specifications, paired with inspirational examples of successful interventions, should assist diversity officers and consultants in designing and implementing interventions to promote the advancement to and representation of nondominant group members at the top of the organizational hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-234
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Applied Behavioral Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • bias
  • career systems
  • decision making
  • diversity interventions
  • gatekeepers
  • meritocracy

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