Science of Diversity & Inclusion Initiative (SODI) Conference 2018

Integrating Research and Practice to Catalyze High-impact Innovations in Diversity

September 11-12, 2018
The University of Chicago

Location: Saieh Hall for Economics
5757 S. University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637


Jeffrey Flory, Claremont McKenna College, Robert Day School of Economics and Finance
Kara Helander, Principal, Helander Consulting
Andreas Leibbrandt, Department of Economics, Monash University; ARC Discovery Early Career Research Fellow
Neela Rajendra, Executive Director, SODI

Organization Home Page:



Many firms strive to promote employee diversity, inclusive workplaces, and access to resources among minorities (ethnic, gender, LGBT, etc.). Yet best practices are unclear, progress is slow, and pressing questions need solid evidence to answer. Transformative insights from research also rarely translate to action in organizations. Tighter collaboration between practitioners and researchers will spark faster discovery, adoption, and traction of cutting-edge methods for success in diversity and inclusion across all sectors. (SODI 2017 Page and Highlights)


Participants will work with leading experts to design high-impact methods to meet their diversity goals while generating new knowledge to advance the field. Emphasis will be on evidence from state of the art research through field experiments in economics, psychology, and other sciences.

  • SHARE Knowledge & Evidence: Assemble leaders from major companies, organizations, and researchers in diversity to learn from each other. Disseminate the evidence on what is already known from research and experience: What works? What doesn’t? What are best practices? How to improve outcomes? What remains unknown?
  • DESIGN High-Impact Innovations in Diversity & Inclusion: Research teams will help companies clarify top priorities in their D&I efforts, identify low-cost high-impact methods/interventions that research shows will help achieve those goals, and design a research plan that implements innovations in a way that enables rapid feedback and precise measurement of their impacts.
  • CREATE Partnerships & Shared Agenda: Identify collaborations between corporations and top researchers to advance evidence-based solutions enhancing workplace diversity and inclusion, build researcher-company partnerships that will help drive progress toward company diversity objectives, and identify top priorities and questions of practitioners that need answers to help guide future research and knowledge creation in the diversity space.

Sep. 11 (Half Day; Conference begins at 1:00PM): What Do We Know? What Do We Want to Learn?

  • Insights from cutting-edge research in tackling D&I's most pressing problems
  • Small group discussions to apply research insights to company-specific context
  • Structured partnership-building activities
  • Panel of D&I leaders on top opportunities for collaboration in diversity efforts
  • Networking

Sep. 12 (Full Day): Building Partnerships in Innovation

  • Innovation design sessions: matched researcher-company groups will design new methods to advance firm diversity/inclusion goals.
  • Closed meetings with Innovation Partners

Proposed Themes

  • How to leverage behavioral economics insights to design and test new approaches to eliminate implicit bias?
  • What are proven ways to recruit and retain skilled workers from diverse backgrounds?
  • How do best practices for personnel and talent development differ for employees from underrepresented groups?
  • What low-cost, high-impact tools exist to enhance diversity and inclusion in different settings?


Participation in this conference for both researchers and companies is by invitation. If you are interested in participating, please email SODI Executive Director Neela Rajendra at Register for SODI 2018 here.

Conference Lodging: A limited number of rooms are available at conference rate at the Hyatt Place Chicago-South/University Medical Center located at 5225 S. Harper Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 60615. For more information please visit the Hyatt Place SODI conference room block page.

Group Code: G-SDI8
Group Link:
Central Reservations: 1.888.591.1234
Must Book By: Wednesday, August 8, 2018

UChicago Travel, Transportation and Parking Tips

General questions? Please contact SODI 2018 conference administrator Jamie Phillips.


Levels of engagement based on company interest


  • Committed to I&D
  • Interested in research insights
  • Wants to learn more about running experiments in their organization

Innovation Partner

  • Interested in working with researchers to conduct experiments in organization
  • Wants to join cohort of other Innovation Partners to collaborate
  • Committed to dissemination of research findings

If you would like your sponsorship to be tax-deductible, or if you would prefer to be invoiced, please contact SODI Conference administrator Jamie Phillips.

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