Diversity training is stupid

Diversity training is stupid

Diversity training – as I’ve experienced it – is a fluke. Let me use my “I” voice. Performance is linked to how we reach desired goals, or simply put – how we do things. So, I conclude that race, tolerance, and diversity issues are too complex for a workplace training environment.

I know.  The diversity trainers of the world are wailing in contempt.

Let me start at the beginning.

Racism is a learned behavior.

It is deeply ingrained into one’s identity, psyche, and belief system. Only an idiot (sorry, no other word would fit here) would believe such a character flaw can be changed in a day (or even a week) of training.

Sure, you can teach your team some “no-no” behaviors, but flawed beliefs will remain at the core.  And if the beliefs remain, the actions will always re-surface in conscious and unconscious behaviors.

Listen to my podcast on the subject of diversity training.

I won’t facilitate it!

As a consultant, I stay clear of offering diversity training. I’ve attended many and been trained to deliver some. Still, I conclude they do not work.

What does work? Let me tell you, an effective diversity process occurs on a very personal micro-level. I believe a training environment inhibits this process more than it facilitates or promotes it.

People need to be alone together over a period of time for such in-depth personal self-exploration to truly transpire. They need the tools and the resources to contemplate, examine, and assess.

THEN [again], they must be left alone to process and self-examine.  This does not often happen in a training environment. A weekend retreat with lots of alone time could be a first step (note: first step), but the alone time is still critical to re-program.

I remember a youth organization called “AnyTown” with long, well-thought-out experiences like the one I’m describing. It worked. It changed hearts.

My own journey…

For my own personal development, I recently began this very process. Once I had acquired the tools, here is how I began to challenge, modify, and test my own issues of tolerance.

We got bad Intel on other races.

They told me the wrong information.

I acknowledge that I have been “fed’ messages about people from my first “teachers” (my family) and the media.

Yeah. I have my “stuff,” and so do you. I believe specific things about (some) people based on information I received during my formative years and life experiences.

I self-examine Teri. 

Consistently I must “bump up against” conclusions I draw about people I do not know.

I must question my motivations and perceptions. For example, if a man makes me uncomfortable, I must ask myself if my discomfort is rooted in something “real” or an assumption my first “teachers”  taught me. That is where I start. Then I proceed to examine my “stuff” further.

Again, I have stuff.  

To be truly authentic, I must accept my “stuff” (i.e.emotional, experiential baggage) and begin re-programming my thinking. Re-programming takes time. In the meantime, I resolve, commit, and determine not to let my “stuff” affect how I interact with people.  It cannot interfere with real life.

Diversity training could not ever teach me that.

 Summary of my points:

Recognize I have “stuff”  + I must question/challenge myself +Re-program and re-route my thinking + controlling my “stuff” so it does not interfere with relationships and interactions = A better Teri.

It’s really ok that you make snap judgments.

It’s natural. Our minds, in my summation, are like computers. We have to deal with an abundance of faulty downloads from our parents and friends and level the media. We cannot help making quick judgments about people; I don’t think we should feel bad about it.

The key is not to entertain those judgments.

Hey, the bottom line is we all make snap judgments. Those judgments are like instantaneous “movies” that play in our brains when we meet a new person. Don’t beat yourself up about this. No one is truthfully colorblind. But we cannot let it interfere with work, friendships, gestures of kindness, or collaboration. Stop the movie and play another one.

No.  Diversity training will not make your environment more tolerant. The only things that will change where we are in this racist time are self-examination, self-improvement, and an opportunity for meaningful non-threatening interactions; the latter is something TCB Consulting can help you create.

That’s my take. Save your money. Do compliance training or engage a solid diversity expert like Deth Im in Kansas City. Deth (pronounced “Date”) was an instructor at AnyTown and has great experience in diversity training. Plus, unlike me, I’ll bet he’ll travel. 🙂

All this to say

Although widely implemented in various organizations, diversity training does not always yield the desired results. Despite the good intentions behind it, several factors contribute to the limited effectiveness of diversity training programs.

One of the main challenges is the perception that diversity training is a one-size-fits-all solution. Different individuals within an organization come from diverse backgrounds and have unique experiences and perspectives. Therefore, a standardized diversity training program may not address every participant’s specific needs and concerns.

Another issue is the approach taken during diversity training sessions.

I think too many diversity trainers rely solely on lectures and presentations, which can often feel impersonal and detached. This approach may fail to create a safe and inclusive environment for participants to engage in meaningful discussions about diversity and inclusion.

Moreover, diversity training often focuses on raising awareness and educating employees about various forms of bias and discrimination.

While this is crucial, it is equally important to supplement awareness with actionable steps and strategies to promote inclusivity daily – not just during active diversity training.

Additionally, as I mentioned, pre-existing attitudes and biases can hinder the effectiveness of diversity training. It is not uncommon for individuals to resist or dismiss the concepts introduced during training sessions, making it challenging to drive meaningful change in their behavior and mindset.

To enhance the impact of diversity training, organizations should consider implementing a comprehensive approach that extends beyond a one-time session.

This may include ongoing workshops, interactive exercises, and opportunities for open dialogue to address specific challenges within the workplace. Additionally, leadership buy-in and support are crucial to ensure that diversity and inclusion values are embedded in the organization’s culture.

In conclusion, while diversity training is an important step towards fostering a more inclusive environment, various factors can limit its effectiveness.

Recognizing these challenges and adopting a more tailored, interactive, and comprehensive approach can help organizations maximize the impact of their diversity training initiatives.

I want you to be your most authentic at work and learn to work with others!

Leveraging the four personality styles to help you when working with different personalities in the workplace.  I also often discuss how business personalities affect how you approach work and manage work personalities. I also answer the question” “how does personality influence communication at work?” Your temperament plays a role in everything. I love talking about it and exploring exactly how!

About The Author

Teri C.

I'm a Missouri training consultant specializing in teambuilidng and overall personal effectiveness.

You may also like...