Men—and white men in particular—have a critical role to play in creating inclusive workplaces. But how can companies support this group as they step up to the challenge of creating inclusive leadership? This third report in Catalyst’s Engaging Men in Gender Initiatives series takes an in-depth look at the approach one company, Rockwell Automation, pursued.

In a rarely done study, Catalyst surveyed a group of Rockwell Automation people managers—mostly white men—and examined the effect that a company-sponsored leadership development program had on these employees’ work lives as well as on the work lives of their closest colleagues. Over the course of just four months, we found evidence that the program, conducted by a group known as White Men as Full Diversity Partnersdid, in fact, have a transformative effect, shifting both the mindsets and behaviors of participants.

Participants not only became significantly more accepting of the notion of white male privilege, but also showed improvement on five critical behaviors for building relationships across difference, including:

  • Critical thinking about social groups.
  • Taking more responsibility for being inclusive.
  • Inquiring across differences.
  • Listening empathically.
  • Addressing difficult issues related to difference.

Participants’ coworkers also began noticing some of these changes in their colleagues and reported an overall decrease in workplace incivility—specifically, negative gossip.

Research Partners: BMO Financial GroupChevron CorporationCredit SuisseDell Inc.Deloitte LLPDesjardins GroupDeutsche Bank AGErnst & YoungHewlett-Packard CompanyIBM CorporationKeyBankMcDonald’s CorporationUPS