How the Rooney Rule fails

Many companies have adopted versions of the Rooney Rule to improve their own diversity. Some of the biggest, such as Amazon and Uber, say they want more women and minority candidates coming through. (Quartz, too.)

But it’s not clear if these policies work. A 2016 study published by Harvard Business Review found that if a job applicant is the sole woman or person of color in a candidate pool, they have virtually no chance of being hired. This can change if two or more diverse candidates are interviewed, though, according to follow-up research looking specifically at hiring in the NFL.

Silicon Valley, like the NFL, still struggles to recruit more diverse candidates, and executive leadership at many major tech firms remains overwhelmingly white. Some of the biggest stars in entertainment are people of color; music and movie executives are mostly not.

Civil rights attorney Cyrus Mehri, who helped create the Rooney Rule, told Bloomberg Law the policy “requires good-faith implementation” to actually work. “The rule has to have teeth.”

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