What are the learning experiences of white males in becoming advocates for inclusion and equity in organizations?
The results of this research can be added to the small but growing body of research on white males and diversity, helping to build critical mass in the literature of this relatively new area of study. Specifically, the results of this research can be utilized to help other white males accelerate the process of becoming advocates for inclusion and equity.
As suggested above, research on the topic of white males and diversity is scarce, at best. Nevertheless, enough articles are available to build an initial conceptual framework. In addition, literature from the field of learning, transformation, and change is useful. Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning is particularly useful, especially when coupled with others’ recent adaptations of his theory: His theory offers a framework for exploring significant learning which incorporates changes in consciousness. Other theories of learning and change are incorporated as well, based on their acknowledgment of the cognitive and social construction of reality.
This qualitatively based study focuses on collecting key elements of transformative learning. As a result, the methodology allows for an emerging conceptual framework through a process of constant comparison, an approach which fits within the boundaries of naturalistic inquiry. Naturalistic inquiry is defined in the methods chapter. This design, coupled with integration of the data with my personal experience, allowed the research process itself to become a transformative learning experience for me, both as a researcher and as an advocate. In addition to helping create more critical mass in the literature on white males and diversity, this approach also allows this study to add to the continuing application and evolution of transformative learning theory.
Beyond contributing to the body of literature noted above, this study also contributes to those organizations which actively choose to develop white males’ capacity to embrace diversity. Our world is increasingly multicultural and diverse, yet many organizations are currently run by white males who do not fully understand or support efforts to embrace wider circles of traditions, beliefs, and differences. In this country, success in creating pluralistic organizations which value difference is linked to the ability of white males to move toward awareness, action, and advocacy in supporting inclusion and equity. However, most media attention on this topic focuses on the resistance of white men. In contrast, this study identifies specific events and themes which have played a significant role in the development of advocacy in white males who have been recognized for their diversity advocacy. The emergent patterns of factors which were present for many of the study’s participants will be particularly useful to white males who pursue their own growth in this area, as well as to those responsible for coaching and developing these skills and attitudes in others