It might seem strange that I would write a blog post pointing you to this article!
Many people I have spoken with have told me they have had bad experiences with ‘diversity training’ and that they felt it was a waste of time. Research backs them up. Much of what is referred to today as diversity training or unconscious bias training does not actually lead to real change either for individuals or organizations and can at times even be detrimental.
As you will see in the article, there are many reasons why much of this type of training doesn’t work. Does that mean we shouldn’t do training? Of course not! It does mean you need to look closely at the kind of training you sign up for as an individual or bring into your organizations.
Start with asking a couple of questions.
- Is there actual evidence that this kind of training will develop people’s abilities to understand and interact positively with people who are culturally different?
- Is this just a one-size-fits-all approach or can it be customized to fit individual and group needs?
I don’t actually refer to the work I do as diversity training but rather as intercultural competence development. My focus is on helping individuals and groups understand what it really takes to develop their abilities to understand and interact positively with people who are culturally different and then to provide the structure and guidance necessary to make that development possible.
With the current racial tensions in the States right now businesses and organizations are looking for options for diversity training. Many will quickly buy into some kind of a package deal that seems efficient and cost-effective so that they can check off the diversity training box for the year. In many cases though, nothing will really change and some of this kind of training can make things even worse.
The kind of training that will bring real and lasting change takes time and effort and some discernment to find. The rewards for making the effort are immense though, both for individuals and organizations. It is worth the work!