3 thoughts on “Diversity Training = Spam

  1. It is a very important discussion. I am afraid that ‘diversity’ is over used as well as all what is considered to be ‘politicly correct’. In effect all what was social norm, what was our cultural heritage is questioned and even forbidden. The basic words-values like: mother, father, family, parents became politicly incorrect. It is crazy and has nothing to do with inclusion, respect to the human being, it has nothing to do with diversity. It is just against basic human rights. We can’t be all the same. We have right to be different, have families or live alone, have parents to whom we address mother and father, even if there are orphans between us. it is life and we have to respect it rules. One day we became orphans, when our parents die.


    Leona Salazar’s feedback on diversity training is harsh but some of the points are valid. In my 25+ years in the field of inclusive diversity management, I’ve seen some miserable examples of diversity training and a variety of diversity-related gimmicks that have done serious harm to well-meaning efforts to build and maintain inclusive relationships and environments in which human diversity is valued and effectively managed.

    Unfortunately, many diversity practitioners and trainers have elected to use this field of study as their personal political soap-box. This is why we have many who are only comfortable focusing on their pet issues as opposed to being able to help their clients manage the multiple dimension of diversity in their respective workplaces. The Black trainers who only focus on black issues; the women who only focus on gender issues; the gay trainers who only focus on LBGT issues; the Latino trainers who only focus on Latino issues; the persons with disabilities who only focus on disability issues; and, the generic trainers who attempt to make diversity training a big Kumbaya moment while glossing over the dimensions of diversity that are too challenging/controversial to discuss have ALL done our field a huge disservice.

    We’ve also compromised our field by pretending that merely having diversity in the workplace is the same as having deliberately designed and maintained systems for ensuring inclusive relationships and environments managed by diverse people. Some of us have allowed organizational clients to believe that all they really have to do is recruit diverse people and then retain them with programs like affinity groups, powerless diversity councils and programs celebrating Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Hispanic History Month, etc. This has placed an enormously unrealistic expectation on the shoulders of Human Resource professionals – who don’t have the authority to change organizational cultures. It has also let other organizational change-makers – the folks in strategic planning, finance, communications, technology, risk managements, etc. – completely off the hook when it comes to diversity management accountabilities impacting the future of the enterprise.

    Lastly, we also have the folks on both sides of the corporate vending negotiation table who have gotten away with perpetrating the notion that 3-4 hours of awareness training has the power to transform any organization. As practitioners, many have said “Yes we can solve your organization’s challenges with a magical 3-4 hour diversity awareness training.” Some of in our field actually have made a lot of money and corporate friends because they’ve avoided being honest about what transformation really requires – strategic change, competency building, conflict management, financial commitment, measurement, individual and organizational performance accountabilities, rewards and consequences, etc. – and that it’s not something that can be perfected in less time than it takes to roast a turkey.

    Is Leona Salazar right to suggest diversity training is not warranted? I don’t think so; and, the attitude of superiority with which her article is laced suggests she might benefit from additional diversity management education beyond the awareness level. But is she right to imply that we D&I professionals need to get our act together, if we want our field and its practitioners be viewed as relevant and credible? Absolutely!

    • Great feedback. I think you have identified some of the root cuases in this line of business. Anyone who has atempted change knows that it takes more than 3-4 hours. With diversity we seem to want instant results. Much like weight loss, diversity requires a holistic approach to acheive and sustain desired results.

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