This article is part of the series “Intercultural Relationships in the Workplace.” It provides useful information for promoting cross-cultural relationships and applying strategies to create a positive atmosphere of diversity in an organization.
What is diversity training?
The diversity and inclusion training is understood as conscious professional training aimed at developing the skills needed to facilitate working and interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds (Noe, 2010; Hughes & Byrd, 2017). Diversity training programs are designed to increase participants’ awareness of the different types of diversity, understand the differences among colleagues, and provide knowledge and strategies to improve employees’ interpersonal and communication skills across diversity to help create a positive work environment. (Hughes & Byrd, 2017) At the organizational level, diversity training helps prevent civil rights violations, increases the inclusion of different identity groups, promotes better teamwork, and creates a more inclusive work environment.
According to Cocchiara, Connerley, and Bell (2010), organizations need diversity training for their employees for several reasons:
- Attract talent and maximize your organization’s profits.
- Comply with the ethical and legal standards of the organization.
- Develop leadership and fundamental skills to maximize organizational diversity.
- Disseminate information on diversity-related issues and organizational policies.
- Strengthen leadership development and management effectiveness.
- Essential Elements of Successful Diversity Training
- The authors of the Diversity Training Handbook have identified four key areas to consider before and during a diversity training program, which are as follows (Clements & Jones, 2008):
Target? Diversity training is what we are working towards (objectives and goals), and a set of learning outcomes (objectives)
Diversity of training behaviors implies a trainer’s ability to promote key behaviors within learners. The key behaviors are as follows:
- Actively understand the topics covered in the training
- Ability to see things in new ways (change perspective)
- Reflection on the perspectives and experiences of others
- Realization is the embodiment of reflection on an individual level by seeing its meaning and understanding the importance of diversity training.
How the diversity training process is designed and implemented.
The following steps need to be considered:
The training is designed with approach and delivery in mind. Lindsey, King, Membere, & Cheung (2017) identified two effective approaches, a) employing a diversity setting of perspectives, which is based on empathy for minority/diverse groups to improve support for diversity Sexual attitudes and behavioral intentions. b) Diversity training with goal setting is flexible and adaptable training for participants to have specific, measurable and challenging goals related to workplace diversity.
Get learners out of their comfort zone while maintaining an atmosphere of psychological safety. Diversity training needs to allow people to discuss conflicting topics, but at the same time, they need to feel the environment supports and appreciates disclosure.
A metaphor for travel. Through mentoring activities and experiences, diversity training helps to take a different perspective on others. Training participants can compare their understanding of diversity issues at the beginning of the training and later in the training.
Trainer’s experience, skills and attitude. The trainer is critical as he/she needs to manage and guide the participant’s journey and provide opportunities to grow in a safe space.
Where to start?
Reflect on the need for a more inclusive work environment. Reflect on diversity issues in your organization. Ask what diversity issues your organization has?
Which groups do you want to participate in diversity training? Think about race, religious group, culture, generation, gender or other diverse group. It is not recommended to include a large group of people in one training session. You can create modules based on organizational needs or different topics in diversity training. Discuss current diversity issues in your organization and undertake proper diversity training to address it. Explain the benefits of diversity training to everyone in your organization, including your team members and other leaders in your organization.
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