Our friend Suzanne Lucas, the Evil HR Lady, has kicked up quite a storm with her recent piece citing research that questions the effectiveness of diversity training. Maybe it’s the provocative title: Why you should stop attending diversity training.Two of his suggestions for improving it are "no double-standards" and "don't invent new ways for people to be offended." I especially loved this point:
Or maybe it’s the tagline from the Peter Bergman article from Psychology Today that Suzanne quotes: “Diversity training doesn’t extinguish prejudice. It promotes it.”
Or maybe the suggestions she makes for alternatives to diversity training are rubbing people the wrong way. She thinks that everyone should be treated “nicely and fairly” and that individuals in the workplace should not “look to be offended.
Don’t believe that anyone would actually take offense at those suggestions? Read the comments on Suzanne’s piece. Apparently, the objectives of diversity training are so noble that the actual results delivered don’t matter. To question diversity training is to be opposed to diversity itself, even though both Bergman and Lucas provide suggestions for what they believe would be more effective ways of optimizing communication and understanding within a diverse workforce.
Okay, so assuming that diversity training must exist, I have a couple of ideas for how it might be improved.
The main class had an exercise in which people wrote down every “fact” they could think of related to various ethnicities and religions and the two genders. These were written on huge post-it notes that were then stuck on to people representing the various groups. It was a great exercise. Seeing these people covered with these big sheets of paper — some saying good things about them; some, bad — really drove the point home that it’s almost impossible to value people as individuals if we insist on labeling them. (boldface mine--Darren)I think that's the point, though--the diversophiles don't want us to see people as individuals. Individuals think for themselves, and when we're trying to control people, that's not a desired outcome.