Being an advocate of diversity training, awareness that there are 2 sides to every coin is crucial where diversity is concerned. Diversity training has the capacity to give staff the opportunity to learn not only about others around them, but also about themselves, and the organisation they are in. But, this will only come to fruition if the training is well facilitated! Disconcerting issues could arise from diversity training causing detriment to employees and the organisation itself. Here are 4 things that should be considered before diversity training is undertaken:
There is Limited Research Suggesting Diversity Training Actually Works
This is true! Diversity training was introduced to organisations in the 1970’s within the U.S., and 50 years later there is still no conclusive evidence to suggest diversity training provides a positive impact. Evidence suggests that diversity training is most effective after a critical incident such as an act of discrimination either internal or external to the organisation, however the effects of diversity on this premise are often short lived. For example, voluntary attendance for employees is likely to have marginal impact due to ‘preaching to the converted’, the staff who really need the training may not turn up. Diversity training via e-learning also has limited impact as conversation isn’t facilitated, and queries may not be immediately addressed.
Diversity Training May Block Integration
Reasons why organisations provide diversity training vary, it is a possibility that the positives of diversity training will bear fruit. However, the likelihood of sensitive discussions creating negative subgroups is also just as possible. Organisations with identifiable subgroups such as gender and race are more likely to gravitate towards each other and sometimes dismiss ideas coming from subgroups other than their own. Sensitive topics aroused from diversity training may create and then accelerate segregation which could then be likely to affect productivity for organisations.
Diversity Training Could Facilitate Prejudice
Diversity training can provoke thought and good conversation, but organisations have limited control, if any at all over conversational topics discussed by employees. Diversity training facilitators have huge responsibility and should consider the experiences of all participants on their courses. If possible, prior to working with a diversity training provider check their reviews and credentials. If you have a diversity issue within your organisation, a provider coming in could escalate issues instead of alleviate them.
Diversity Training Could Leave Lasting Detrimental Effects on Employees
There have been incidents in the past where participants have been negatively impacted by diversity training course content. Examples of this are rare, but it is something for organisations to think about. One well documented example was in the U.S. when air traffic controllers sued the Federal Aviation Administration due to their diversity training being too traumatic for them.
I hope this blog post helps you think critically towards diversity training and allows you to consider the possibility of both positive and negative outcomes. Diversity issues can ignite an array of ‘knock on’ effects for both employees and the organisation, hopefully the above headings will support you with your decisions.