It has been a long time since I was actively involved in “Diversity Training,” but I have never flagged in my interest in the effort to ensure that all are welcome in the workplace and all have equal opportunity to succeed. I have, however, come to wonder whether it is wise to include the word, “diversity,” in the title of a learning experience.
I suspect that most learners, hearing the word, diversity, presume that they’ll be hearing mainly about the importance of giving people of color and differently-abled individuals a more than fair shake and that they’ll be chastised for using words and phrases on an absurdly long list. They arrive in the classroom resigned, if not resentful, and pay half-hearted attention to the proceedings. They emerge unchanged.
Instead of billing these events as “diversity training,” let’s give them labels that reflect our ultimate goal, a workplace in which all are valued and all are fully engaged. Much of the content of our existing “diversity” training can be retained and to it can be grafted content about the less discussed challenges faced by “the rest of us”—biases based upon personality and physical attractiveness being among my personal favorites.
What we entitle these learning experiences isn’t nearly as important, of course, as it is to secure managers’ commitment to keep the learning in the consciousness of the learners. It might be easier to get leaders to buy our package, however, if there was a different name on the box.