Originally found at Harvard Business Review
The old proverb about teaching people to fish so they can eat for a lifetime, rather than gifting a fish that lasts just a day, also applies to how organizations can empower, rather than merely help, disadvantaged groups.
Yet these well-intentioned efforts often include a key oversight: Many DEI initiatives are founded on the flawed assumption that disadvantaged groups are helpless without assistance from those in power. Such protectionist beliefs give rise to the frequently overlooked yet deeply concerning phenomenon of benevolent marginalization, whereby good intentions can lead to harm.
...In our longitudinal study of sheltered workshops, published in the Academy of Management Journal, disabled workers report that many inclusion initiatives at work are based on power imbalances rooted in pity. Sheltered workshops provide employment to disabled workers in segregated facilities with limited exposure to the broader public under the guise of care and protection. We show that well-intentioned managers often devise inclusion initiatives based on simplified assumptions that all workers with disabilities share identical needs of help and assistance — a paternalistic or even infantilizing approach that perpetuates inequality.
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