Diversity training

Diversity training can be defined as any program designed to facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and generally teach individuals who are different from others how to work together effectively.[1] Diversity training is instruction aimed at helping participants to gain cultural awareness in order to benefit the organization or company. Diversity training is the reality that is facing many human resource management teams - one of the pressing reasons is the growing ethnic and racial diversity in the workplace.[2]

Trainers use diversity training as a means to meet many objectives, such as attracting and retaining customers and productive workers; maintaining high employee morale; and/or fostering understanding and harmony between workers.[3] However, a systematic analysis has shown the diversity training is usually counterproductive.[4][5]

Controversial issues

Diversity training has been a controversial issue, raising questions about moral considerations and counter-productivity. Observers characterize diversity training in very different ways. Its proponents consider it morally right, because it respects diversity, recognizing the value and contributions of every human being. They also view it as economically sound, because it enables organizations to draw on multiplicities of talents and strengths.[6] According to Hans Bader, its opponents consider it an oppressive ideology and reeducation tactic that actually reduces the ability of organizations to attain their goals. It has been suggested that diversity training reinforces differences between individuals instead of fostering their commonalities, thus helping to further racialize the workplace, creating situations where people "tiptoe" around issues such as how to relate to people of different cultures as opposed to people learning to communicate with and truly understand each other.[7] Programs which established specific responsibility for diversity, such as equal opportunity staff positions or diversity task forces, have proven most effective in general. However, the results also indicate that White females benefit significantly more from diversity training. The benefits for African American females and males were appreciably lower than European American females. Networking and mentoring, which were considered bias mitigating approaches, served African American females the most. African American males were the least likely to benefit from any of the methods.[8] Sue Steiner and collaborators have advocated that controversy be used as a cooperative learning style. They argue that attempting to see both sides of a controversial issue builds empathy and allows working environments to function better.[9]

Purported benefits

An analysis of data from over 800 firms over 30 years shows that diversity training and grievance procedures backfires and leads to reductions in the diversity of the firms workforce.[4][5] Other research shows that people "were less likely to take discrimination complaints seriously against companies who had diversity programs."[10] As organizations and communities are becoming more globalized, there is a need for an expansion in relation to communication among individuals from all over the world, operating within a diverse environment.[11] Scholars believe it is beneficial for companies to train a diverse staff, as a reflection of the market in which you wish to serve.[12] According to Jalai Armache, in a heterogeneous workplace environment filled with people knowledgeable of those with different backgrounds and nationalities, there is ability to easily expand an organization. There is an ability to create inventive solutions to issues being faced in the world market.[11] According to Kim Abreu, there are five key benefits of diversity in today's workplace. One of these benefits is increased creativity, which bases from the belief that teams including workers from different experiences and backgrounds are able to produce creative solutions to problem solving. Additionally, benefits of workplace diversity also include drives in innovation.[13] According to a study done by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Marshall and Laura Sherbin, a term called "two-dimensional diversity" was coined, referring to individuals with inherent diversity traits and acquired ones. From this study, it was found that correlating diversity in leadership, organizations with two-dimensional diversity were able to out-innovate others. Another benefit identified is easier recruitment. When talent is vital, and companies are not hiring someone to fit an ideal image, there is a greater chance for recruiting the best people in the labor market. Following along with the same idea, avoiding high turnover is another benefit to the workplace. Supporting diversity in the workplace creates cohesiveness among employees, who feel they are more invested in the company. Lastly, Abreu identifies diversity as a way to capture more of the market. Teaching diversity training, and having a diverse staff allows for you to market to a range of racial and ethnic groups, and individuals that identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Important figures

Activists, educators, and public speakers have become a vital part of diversity training seminars. Some have become known specifically for their effective methods and their commitment in social issues.[14] Conferences often get owners of companies, human resources specialists, managers, and others involved with worker's rights to speak at these events because of their experience working with a diverse group of people. According to "Diversity Training University International students", the most important diversity pioneers include:[15]


Numerous types of diversity training conferences exist currently throughout the world.[16] They have become an essential tool that a company now seeks for their employees. While most trainings are the same, some differ based on the type of sector and work the company does. Businesses look into diversity within the workplace but also within consumers while educators use diversity training as a way to learn adequate communication among students and parents.[17] Most training is done through companies that specialize in the matter and certify those who conduct the conference.

See also


  1. Lindsey, Alex; King, Eden; Hebl, Michelle; Levine, Noah (2014-11-02). "The Impact of Method, Motivation, and Empathy on Diversity Training Effectiveness". Journal of Business and Psychology. 30 (3): 605–617. doi:10.1007/s10869-014-9384-3. ISSN 0889-3268.
  2. Cocchiara, Faye K.; Connerley, Mary L.; Bell, Myrtle P. (2010-11-01). ""A GEM" for increasing the effectiveness of diversity training". Human Resource Management. 49 (6): 1089–1106. doi:10.1002/hrm.20396. ISSN 1099-050X.
  3. Chavez (2008). "Beyond diversity training: A social infusion for cultural inclusion". Human Resource Management.
  4. 1 2 "Why Diversity Management Backfires (And How Firms Can Make it Work)". ethics.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  5. 1 2 "To improve diversity, don't make people go to diversity training. Really.". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  6. "Diversity at the Top May Boost the Bottom Line - UT Dallas News". www.utdallas.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  7. "Diversity Training Backfires | Competitive Enterprise Institute". cei.org. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  8. Kalev (2006). "Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies". American Sociological Review.
  9. Steiner (2003). "Using structured controversy to teach diversity content and cultural competence". Journal Of Teaching In Social Work.
  10. "Diversity programs give illusion of corporate fairness, study shows | UW Today". www.washington.edu. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  11. 1 2 Abreu, Kim. "The Myriad Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  12. "Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits and Challenges". connection.ebscohost.com. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  13. "How Diversity Can Drive Innovation". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  14. Liberman, B. "Diversity Trainer Preconceptions: The Effects of Trainer Race and Gender on Perceptions of Diversity Trainer Effectiveness". Basic & Applied Social Psychology. 33 (3): 279–293. doi:10.1080/01973533.2011.589327.
  15. THE HISTORY OF DIVERSITY TRAINING & ITS PIONEERS; by BILLY E. VAUGHN; Diversity Officer Magazine Newsletter – August 2015
  16. "World Experts Convene For Landmark Diversity Conference.".
  17. Lappin, G. "Diversity Training, Educational Equity, and Teacher Preparation Programs: The Promise of Multiculturalism". International Journal of the Humanities. 5 (2): 109–113.
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