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. 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.
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. However, a systematic analysis has shown the diversity training is usually counterproductive.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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. Other research shows that people "were less likely to take discrimination complaints seriously against companies who had diversity programs." 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. Scholars believe it is beneficial for companies to train a diverse staff, as a reflection of the market in which you wish to serve. 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. 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.
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. 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:
- Elsie Cross
- Price Cobb
- Sybil Evans
- John Fernandez
- Lee Gardenswartz
- Lewis Griggs
- Ed Hubbard
- Judith Katz
- Frances Kendall
- Fred Miller
- Patricia Pope
- Ann Rowe
- Donna Springer
- Roosevelt Thomas
Numerous types of diversity training conferences exist currently throughout the world. 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. Most training is done through companies that specialize in the matter and certify those who conduct the conference.
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