These 2 psychologists are dismantling the myth of white intellectual superiority

One client at a time, their revolutionary aptitude assessments chip away at the myth of white intellectual superiority. A new and innovative way of conducting intelligence assessments might level the playing field for job applicants from diverse backgrounds. A new and innovative way of conducting intelligence assessments might level the playing field for job applicants from diverse backgrounds. Without the benefit of the cult-like celebrity that often follows folks who produce social change, Kenneth Yusko and Harold Goldstein are quietly altering the nation’s employment culture for the better — all by meticulously chipping away at one of the fundamental assumptions of modern psychology: the myth of white intellectual superiority. Yusko and Goldstein are industrial and organizational psychologists — a fancy term for people who study how companies and other organizations make decisions regarding hiring and advancement. In particular, their work takes on the ossified conventional wisdom which holds that white Americans possess greater aptitude for jobs or college admission — a consensus that’s become entrenched because of the widespread use of I.Q. tests or other biased assessments that misstate the assumed intellectual advantage of whites and confuse knowledge with intelligence.  Over the course of their professional life, they’ve produced scholarly and practical work that relatively few people know about, but has enormous potential to help solve future challenges in employment hiring, retention and promotions at a time when the nation’s workforce is becoming more and more diverse. As employers draw from an increasingly nontraditional workforce, they need to know and be assured that, when given a fair assessment, African Americans can — and do — perform just as well as whites on the job. “We don’t believe there are group racial differences on critical competencies,” Goldstein told me during a recent lunch interview as his colleague, Yusko, nodded in agreement alongside him. “We believe you can hire for competence while still getting diverse talent because there are highly intelligent, capable and competent African Americans and whites and Asians out there to be hired.” Yusko and Goldstein deserve to be household names or, at the very least, widely acknowledged for their socially impactful efforts to expand job opportunities and open workplaces to historically marginalized people. Over the past three decades, their work on college campuses and in a private consulting firm has helped a broad array of clients to better incorporate diversity into hiring and promotion decisions.
“We tell clients that you don’t have to compromise and you don’t have to water down your hiring assessments,” Yusko said, adding that tests are simply a tool used in decision making. “You can hire by using tests that don’t add contamination that happens to help whites over blacks or whites over Latinos.” But despite an impressive accumulation of success the pair has enjoyed ever since they first met as doctoral students at the University of Maryland in the 1990s, Yusko and Goldstein’s work remains something of an outlier in academic circles, where the stubborn believe in white intellectual superiority continues to frame discussions of employment testing and assessments.  “Our theory was that if you created a test where the person taking the test couldn’t rely on their schooling and upbringing . . . but had to rely on their pure, raw intelligence, then we’d see much less difference between the races.” In fact, their work continues to be barely understood or embraced by many outside of the pin-point intersection of corporate diversity managers, civil rights lawyers — and a few CEOs seeking to avoid expensive discrimination lawsuits. “They are American heroes that nobody knows anything about,” Cyrus Mehri, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights lawyer, said in an interview. “I’ve been so impressed with their work that I often call on them for assistance as expert witnesses when working with my clients.” What little attention that Yusko and Goldstein have earned stems, in part, to their association with Mehri, who has litigated some of the nation’s largest and most significant racial and gender employment discrimination cases. In particular, Mehri is well-known for the landmark discrimination cases Roberts v. Texaco Inc. case — which led to a $176.1 million award in 1997 for discrimination — as well as in the case of Ingram v Coca-Cola Company, which resulted in a $192 million settlement. Mehri used Yusko and Goldstein in other significant workplace-discrimination cases against such Ford and Morgan Stanley.

via thinkprogress: These 2 psychologists are dismantling the myth of white intellectual superiority

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