Aneesh Rai is a fifth-year PhD student in the Decision Processes group. Prior to his doctoral studies at Wharton, he graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a BA in Psychology, and minors in Computer Science and Cognitive Science.
His primary research interest is diversity and inclusion in organizations. Within this space, he focuses on understanding the factors that contribute to a lack of gender and racial diversity in organizations, as well as designing interventions to help organizations become more diverse. His secondary research interest is using large-scale field experiments to test nudges and interventions to promote behavior change.
Abstract: Receiving help can make or break a career, but women and racial/ethnic minorities do not always receive the support they seek. Across two audit experiments—one with politicians and another with students—as well as an online experiment (total n= 5,145), we test whether women and racial/ethnic minorities benefit from explicitly mentioning their demographic identity in requests for help, for example, by including statements like “As a Black woman…” in their communications. We propose that when a help seeker highlights their marginalized identity, it may activate prospective helpers’ motivations to avoid prejudiced reactions and increase their willingness to provide support. Here we show that when women and racial/ethnic minorities explicitly mentioned their demographic identity in help-seeking emails, politicians and students responded 24.4% (7.42 percentage points) and 79.6% (2.73 percentage points) more often, respectively. These findings suggest that deliberately mentioning identity in requests for help can improve outcomes for women and racial/ethnic minorities.
Abstract: We highlight a feature of personnel selection decisions that can influence the gender diversity of groups and teams. Specifically, we show that people are less likely to choose candidates whose gender would increase group diversity when making personnel selections in isolation (i.e., when they are responsible for selecting a single group member) than when making collections of choices (i.e., when they are responsible for selecting multiple group members). We call this the isolated choice effect. Across 6 preregistered experiments (n=3,509), we demonstrate that the isolated choice effect has important consequences for group diversity. When making sets of hiring and selection decisions (as opposed to making a single hire), people construct more gender-diverse groups. Mediation and moderation studies suggest that people do not attend as much to diversity when making isolated selection choices, which drives this effect.