How wonderful and touching that so many attitudes were changed through training. But so what?

Again, the bottom line: Training didn’t change behavior. And that means diverse and female employees are still not getting what they need to advance, such as mentorships or recognition.

For instance, three weeks after the training, employees were asked to nominate coworkers they’d like to meet for coffee. Here’s what the researchers say about the result: “Contrary to our expectations, the training didn’t prompt men to nominate more women, nor did it lead senior women to nominate more junior women.”

Sadly, this all also reconfirms research conducted by the legal industry. In a study by the American Bar Association’s commission on women and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, the finding was that the profession’s gender equality and diversity efforts over the last three decades have been largely useless and a waste of time.

Edward Chang, a doctoral candidate who worked on the Wharton study, offers no comfort that diversity training in law firms would be better. “We don’t really have any reason to expect that the effects of training would be different among lawyers than the effects we found in our research.”

But Chang tells me that management support can tip the balance. “The more supportive you are of diversity prior to training, the more likely you are to change your behavior as a result of training; the less supportive you are, the more likely you are to change your attitudes but not your behaviors.”

So there we are again: We won’t see a meaningful spike in the percentage of women or minorities in the legal profession or anywhere else controlled by white, middle-aged men unless those white, middle-aged men make it a true top priority.

Not to be a naysayer, but I'm not seeing it happening. 

Contact Vivia Chen at

On Twitter: @lawcareerist.