Diversity Training Can Backfire

One of the goals of diversity training is the creation of a more inclusive workplace.  However, diversity training can have the opposite effect.

Rather than bringing people closer together, diversity training has often done more to heighten the differences among people and promote prejudice.

A study of 829 companies over 31 years revealed that diversity training resulted in “no positive effects in the average workplace,” according to researchers.

It seems that dividing people into categories to illustrate the differences among groups only reinforces the concept of “he/she is different.”

HR POINTER: When we categorize and label others, we often make assumptions that people are somehow predictable or inferior.  As such, we stop seeing people as individuals and start assigning motives and intentions to what we think we know about a person as if that is all there is to the person.

The researchers in the study noted a solution to traditional diversity training as follows:

1. Stop training people to be more accepting of diversity and stop training them to think, “Joe is just like me.”

2. Start training employees in communication techniques such as effective listening, handling difficult conversations, working with others regardless of differences, etc. such that we treat each person according to his/her needs and abilities.

The researches recommended that the goal should be to move beyond diversity and similarity to individuality.

In other words, forget thinking that “Joe is just like me” and start thinking, “Joe is just Joe.”  The result will be seeing people as much more than some grouping of religion, ethnicity, gender, etc.

The information on our Supervisory Training webpage provides an overview of the type interpersonal skills training that we provide to employees and supervisors.

Our training does exactly what the researchers noted above – it teaches communication techniques based on respect for the individuality of the person.  See the link below: http://www.yourparttimehrmanager.com/supervisor-training/

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One Response to Diversity Training Can Backfire

  1. I would agree with you that this statement segrates people, races disabilities, etc. “It seems that dividing people into categories to illustrate the differences among groups only reinforces the concept of “he/she is different.” If this is objective, of course it is doomed to fail. On the other hand If you approach diversity from a point of view of awareness and celebrate the difference, then it will have great results.

    Also diversity training has not shown any positive difference in the workplace also seems very subjective. you cannot make anyone believe that if properly approached with individualism and race celebration in mind that there would not have been a difference. I say to those companies that did training, try it again. be honest be real, be present and do training for the riht reasons, and walk the talk after the training meetings, and you will get results.


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