A study shows U.S. diversity training programs have failed to eliminate bias and increase the number of minorities in management.

The study concluded that, even though corporations have spent increasing amounts of money on such programs since the 1990s, the programs have not been effective.

In contrast, the research — conducted by Professor Frank Dobbin of Harvard University, Alexandra Kalev of the University of California-Berkeley, and Erin Kelly of the University of Minnesota — indicated programs establishing responsibility for diversity, such as equal opportunity staff positions or diversity task forces, have proven most effective.

For the past 40 years companies have tried to increase diversity, spending millions of dollars a year on any number of programs without actually stopping to determine whether or not their efforts have been worth it, Dobbin said. "Certainly in the case of diversity training, the answer is no.

The only truly effective way to increase the presence of minorities and women in managerial positions is through programs that create organizational responsibility, he added. If no one is specifically charged with the task of increasing diversity, then the buck inevitably gets passed ad infinitum.

The study is to appear in the journal American Sociological Review.