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Diversity training is widely used but is not always effective.  Drawing on theory and research explain how diversity training can be more productively utilized by organizations.

Use relevant readings from our reading list but also your own independent research in formulating your answer.  You may refer to organizational examples, overall trends and/or specific groups of employees to illustrate key points in your argument.” 

Your first step should be to try and unpack its key components.  Here are some questions which may help to prompt your thinking (bearing in mind you all of them may be relevant to the argument you eventually craft):

  • How widespread is diversity training?  What forms does it take?  What are some of the common criticisms of diversity training?
  • What are the characteristics of effective diversity training initiatives? Why do you think these are effective?  Under what conditions are they effective?
  • How should organizations approach the design, implementation and follow-up of diversity training initiatives?
  • How can effective diversity training be integrated with other components of the organisation?
  • What types of diversity training are likely to be more ineffective?  Are there any traps or common problems organisations should avoid?  What should they take into account ?
  • Can diversity training reduce psychological bias and stereotypes about groups? Can effective diversity training reduce both outgroup hostility and ingroup favouritism?

Diversity training

‘Diversity training’ means deploying a practice to treat many issues such as skills and cultural issues. It aims to repair the diversity-related challenges like racism, workplace bullying, in-group favouritism and out-group hostility. These challenges can potentially affect individuals who are victims of such activities and the overall performance of organizations. However, ‘diversity training’ is perhaps not the solution for treating such organizational issues. As argued by Bezrukova et al. (2016), ‘Diversity Training’ is more advantageous to cognitive learning but less for behavioural and attitudinal. Now, it cannot also be said that organizations should stop implementing the ‘diversity training’. However, it is more justifiable to say that organizations need to give priority to organizational audits aimed at finding root causes behind diversity-specific challenges. There is a need to focus on both behavioural issues and diversity training. There is a need to improve the recruitment process to ensure the recruitment of skilled employees only. This will require recruiters to have an objective attitude rather than subjective. A subjective nature is susceptible to personal opinions and the self-interpretations. On the other hand, an objective nature is about giving values to data only. The latter of the two is perhaps free from a biased behavior (Lindsey et al. 2015). The main purpose of this assignment is to identify why diversity training fails and what all could be done to make it easily adapted by firms.   

It is a widely spread practice in modern organizations. Globalization of business, education, jobs and other things have produced such scenario. Now, for example, a global company would not just have the local professionals but rather a diverse workforce. People are migrating to various parts of the world like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Russia and others. Migrants are mainly the people belonging to the Asian countries. Such people are migrating for better and higher education, better jobs and for medical treatments (Gebert, Buengeler & Heinitz, 2017). A diverse workforce is a widely spread fact and good to promote a creative work environment. Such a work environment is important for employees to feel encouraged to think about innovative ideas. However, there are some challenges which management face to manage a diverse workforce. Those challenges include but not limited to like cultural conflicts, workplace bullying and racist activities. Nonetheless, these challenges are uncontrollable because there are so many different people who are sharing the common space.

Characteristics of effective diversity training initiatives

Such workplace takes a form of a framework where diversity in the workforce does exist. According to Brannon et al. (2018), the inclusion of all frameworks is a commonly seen picture in the global workforce. It means that the global workforce often and largely adheres to this framework. Such workforce finds a dominating group from within it which may also affect the policymaking. The existence of a dominating group can be responsible for many issues like workplace bullying and racist activities. The inclusion of diversity is a preferred most option globally for facts such as the global shortage of skilled people. Additionally, labor cost is another issue which encourages employers to look for the offshore resources. Offshore employees would agree on doing the similar works on relatively lower wages. It means the offshore employees are not just fulfilling the needs for skilled labor but also contributing to a reduced operational cost.

A diverse workforce can be criticised for many reasons like the production of a dominant group. Such dominant groups are the root causes of many issues that are threatening for both organizations and employees. Some of the common issues which these dominant groups cause are workplace bullying, discrimination, cultural conflicts and much more. Employees those who are bullied can be mentally sick. Such employees may lose their focus on work. On the other hand, job responsibilities are as such that focus is a key factor. The end result of such a situation can be fatalistic for both the employee and the firm. An employee can end up losing the job whereas the rate of attrition for the firm will increase further. It is also criticisable for a fact that firms with diversity in the workforce generally get involved in diversity training which is itself criticisable for its productivity (Fujimoto & EJ Härtel, 2017). As argued by Burrell (2017), diversity cannot be handled. It means that no strategy can help to manage a diverse workforce.

Diversity training will focus on different characteristics of diversity like age, race, gender, ethnicity, abilities and sexual orientation. These are the characteristics which are generally targeted with diversity training. However, it is to be noted that only a few firms do succeed in handling such training. As opined by Bezrukova et al. (2016), not all firms can handle the diversity training as revealed by a meta-analytic integration and study of over 40 years of research in diversity training. It means that there are some elements which need to be fulfilled while conducting the diversity training.

Organizations approach to training

As stated in the aforesaid section, diversity training is less effective in most organizations. There are a few common issues that most organizations do. One of such issues is ‘carrying training for short-term only’. It is to be noted that diversity inclusion is less challenging than managing it. It is not possible to handle a diverse workforce in just one shoot. There has to be given some time to it. The other issue of diversity training is that it lacks a good design. It is important to identify who the target audience is. Nevertheless, an inappropriately oriented training would not be able to address areas were not identified (Young & Guo, 2016).

There are some conditions under which diversity training can produce better results. One of such conditions is to design the training for a long period. It should not be in short-terms. The basic idea behind such an arrangement is to allow both trainers and participants to explore their expertise. Trainers have their expertise in delivering the designed materials in a most understandable way. On the other hand, participants at their best can grab a hold of what is being delivered in training. The other condition would be to appropriately design the training. Training should focus both the awareness for cultural differences and the skills development. Training that is focussed on either of the options will not produce the expected result. In the opinion of Kulik (2014), both cultural awareness and skills development make up a diverse workforce. Diversity training needs to be appropriately planned in the guidance of extensive research studies as successful training emerges from studies.

One of the approaches to design the training would be to do as many studies of huge training samples as possible. Dealing with a diverse workforce on several issues is not a routine job like what human resource does with the newly recruited professionals. There are huge differences between a process-based training and diversity training. The area of focus for diversity training is a lot bigger than just a process-based training. This is why it is advisable to conduct sufficient research on huge samples. By doing this, firms will create opportunities to find the proven ways to deal with a diverse workforce. Another approach would be to identify the target audience. The target audience would be set in accordance with two variables like cultural awareness and skills development. None of these could be left out as this will lessen the impact of the diversity training. It also means that the training will follow a long-term period, so that, all the deliverables are effectively conveyed to the trainees (Block & Noumair, 2015). Case study examples can also guide to ways to appropriately design the ‘Diversity Training’. One of such cases studies is of Google which is widely known for attracting the youths. It effectively manages its diverse workforce by integrating ‘diversity training’ on different levels of operations. It adopts the mentoring initiatives for its interns. It facilitates a good outreach program to colleges. The hiring process is very transparent and oriented with diversity features. It also maintains a notable social media profiles (, 2018).

The ultimate goal of diversity training can be implemented in different ways. One of such ways is to discuss the key concerns. Each of the participants needs to be allowed to disclose their perspectives of others around them. Teamwork should be there, so that, each of the trainees works on their issues and tries to get to the similar platform. Another way is to address the misunderstandings. Managers should address the misunderstanding and promote a shared middle ground to all, so that, there are behaviourally no differences between employees. A tolerance to different genders, sex, age and ethnicity needs to be promoted, so that, there is respect for each other. According to Dobbin, Schrage & Kalev (2015), cultural challenges become a part of organizations when there is a feeling of intolerance among employees. Preventing harassment is also a way to implement the elements of diversity training. Things related to harassment and its possible consequences need to be clearly explained during the training.

Follow-up of diversity training initiatives is very important considering the amount of thought process it requires. It can be done in several numbers of ways like one can go for the demographic data. It means that employees need to be assessed on several parameters of demographics like recruitment, struggle, participation into training & development programs, promotion and others. As opined by Thompson (2018), the productivity of the training can also be measured by surveying the employees’ perceptions of different groups. Employee satisfaction survey and the feedback system can also be used as this can generate some useful data. Such data will tell whether the training has made any differences to the workplace behavior. Employee retention rate would also communicate the success and convey that whether any differences are being created.  

It is necessary to integrate diversity training with the organizational components as otherwise, the purpose will remain unfulfilled. The purpose of such training is to promote a peaceful working environment where there are no barriers to success such as skills shortage and unawareness to diverse cultures. Institutional thoughts can help in integrating the elements of diversity training with other organizational components. One of such institutional thoughts is Edgar Schein’s views of the organizational structure. It gives four ways to be used like shared purpose, coordination between members, task allocation and hierarchy of authority to integrate the elements of diversity training with components of firms (Madera, Dawson & Neal, 2018). The concept says that employees and management should have a shared purpose, so that, problems are resolved before it causes any big worry to the operational productivity. It further gives emphasis to coordination between teams and management as this will promote teamwork or working together. Teamwork is a good weapon to fight against the odds like racist activities, workplace bullying and cultural unawareness. Task allocation is the next thing which Mr. Schein advocates for. It means management should know their employees to a level that it faces no issues in selecting the right person for a task. By hierarchy of authority, Edgar Schein means the awareness with a number of persons in different authorities. A bullied person should know whom to seek the help from. Similarly, a racially abused person should also know how to escalate the issue. These practices would not just report the cases but also generate a data. Management would be able to know the productivity of the diversity training (Andrevski et al., 2014).

According to Bezrukova et al. (2016), diversity training can be either Standalone or integrated. In the standalone type, training can be done in just one brief session such as briefing on legal and compliance issues or educating about the cultural differences. On the other hand, an ‘Integrated’ type can have a broad diversity curriculum. It can also have a few initiatives included to it. The second approach is rather indicating to support ‘diversity training’ with academic theories like the ‘training motivation theory’. NetSuite presents an example of an integrated type of training by launching the new mentoring initiatives (NetSuite, 2018).

Organizations should adopt both of the types such as ‘Standalone’ and the ‘Integrated’. Few of the common problems which organizations face need to be avoided to get the maximum out of the ‘Diversity Training’. One of such problems is ‘Diversity Audits’. According to Fischer et al. (2017), diversity audits are necessary to be made prior to any diversity training to avoid unnecessary expenses and physical works. Diversity audits will educate on the needs area as some firms could just need to resolve the skills shortage while others may only intend to rectify the cultural differences.

The other common problem areas are the identification of the target audience, the area of needs and the time duration. As argued by Konrad, Yang & Maurer (2016), firms do normally struggle to identify their target audience for diversity training. Identifying the area of needs is another common problem which firms commonly face with diversity training. As opined by Raza & Tariq (2016), the time duration is a critical factor to the success of diversity program. Diversity training should never be for a shorter period of time but rather for a longer span of time. It gives opportunities to both trainers and trainees to explore their expertise and rectify their weaknesses.

Factors of consideration for diversity training should be the diversity audits, timeframe, type of diversity training and examples from successful case studies.   

Psychological biases have nothing do it with race or gender but it is related to the majority of people's pattern of attitudes and thinking. It is about their nature of choice and autonomy. It is also about the group membership. It is hard to repair or reduce with diversity training. The best an organization can do is to provide an environment where employees from diverse backgrounds feel like being treated on common grounds of respect and rights (Emeh, Njoku & Ukenna, 2017).

Diversity programs in few cases can even raise the level of severity of stereotyping thoughts. In attempts to increase awareness, it can reinforce the stereotype norms. Participants who have been called in to participate can become or enact a more stereotypical behavior. Instructions given to suppress the negative stereotypical thoughts for a specific group can actually reinforce or rebound the negative feelings. For example, if participants are made to watch a video showing how to suppress their stereotypical thoughts about the elderly, it may encourage the job evaluators for a strict evaluation practice with elderly people (Buttner & Lowe, 2017).

No, diversity training will certainly not be able to reduce both in-group favoritism and out-group hostility. These two peculiar practices are not due to the unawareness with work etiquettes that diversity training can rectify. It is due to the flaws in management strategies that directly or indirectly promote such behaviors. To reduce the level of out-group hostility and in-group favoritism, it is important that management has measures of every wrongdoing. They should have strategies to measure where the supervisors are at fault and what factors were responsible for grouping. By controlling those factors, organizations can effectively control the favoritism and hostility practices (Boekhorst, 2015).

Conclusion and Recommendation

In summary, it can be said that diversity training can be more productively utilized by organizations if the suggested points in the study are carefully followed. Few important things related to diversity training are diversity audits, selection of appropriate training type and the time-frame. These basic elements need to be followed to ensure that productivity increases. However, diversity training is perhaps not an ideal solution to treat behavioural issues like racism, workplace bullying, in-group favouritism and out-group hostility. It is rather a good solution to treat a few minor attitudinal and skills-based issues.  

Perspective-taking can be a good way to enhance the productivity of diversity training. In such training, members of minority group are asked to share their perspectives on challenges, which racial minorities can face. Such perspectives can help the non-racial minorities to deeply think of what they do with racial minorities. This may encourage the non-minority communities to use a more positive behavior and attitude towards racial minorities.  

Goal-setting activity can also produce the results. Participants will be asked to set some attainable and challenging goals to ensure the workplace diversity. For example, one participant can set a goal like challenging the unaccepted comments about racial minorities. An utmost fulfilment of the goal would be to avoid any such comments in future.


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