Diversity training is a course of instruction aimed at increasing the participants' cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills in order to benefit an organization by protecting against civil rights violations, by increasing the inclusion of different identity groups, and by promoting better teamwork. 
Diversity training has been a controversial issue, raising questions about moral considerations and counterproductivity.
Leading diverse teams
According to Michael Bird, it is likely that many project managers may feel that they are treading new and unfamiliar territory as they attempt to lead project teams made up of individuals from different cultures, heterogeneous mixes, and differing demographics. This feeling of uneasiness may occur because of a lack of understanding of the techniques required to manage diverse teams. When these requisite techniques are lacking, moreover, it is likely that the motivation, satisfaction and productivity levels of the team members will suffer. Bird recommends that project managers not only refine and improvement management techniques but also complete post project evaluations to measure the overall results of managing the diverse teams.
Based on Bird’s research, the following positive approaches can be adopted by project managers faced with the challenge of leading such heterogeneous teams:
- Recognize that diversity will bring a greater skills base when managed properly
- Improve the overall climate in diverse project teams in order to improve satisfaction, reduce conflicts, and improve team member retention
- Encourage creativity, flexibility, and innovation among the team members which will allow the injection of new ideas and challenge the normal organizational mindsets
Bird points in his article to the many benefits that managing diversity will bring to a project team: enhanced opportunities, better performance, greater strategic awareness, and greater opportunities for innovation and responsiveness.
Observers characterize diversity training in very different ways. Its proponents consider it morally right, because it respects diversity, recognizing the value and contributions of every human being. They also view it as economically sound, because it enables organizations to draw on multiplicities of talents and strengths.
According to Hans Bader, its opponents consider it an oppressive, ideology reeducation tactic that actually reduces the ability of organizations to attain their goals. It has been suggested that diversity training reinforces differences between individuals instead of fostering their commonalities, thus helping to further racialize the workplace, creating situations where people "tiptoe" around issues such as how to relate to people of different cultures as opposed to people learning to communicate with and truly understand each other. It may also, according to law professor Gail Heriot, amount to a "rather blatant form of racial and sexual harassment".
These opinions have been confirmed by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals which, in Fitzgerald v. Mountain States Tel & Tel. Co. (1995), noted that "diversity training sessions generate conflict and emotion" and that "diversity training is perhaps a tyranny of virtue."
In a paper published in the American Sociological Review, the authors concluded that efforts to mitigate managerial bias ultimately fail to achieve the organization's aim of increasing diversity in the management and leadership ranks. In contrast, programs which established specific responsibility for diversity, such as equal opportunity staff positions or diversity task forces, have proven most effective in general. However, the results also indicate that White females benefit significantly more from Diversity Training. The benefits for African American females and males were appreciably lower than European American females. Networking and mentoring, which were considered bias mitigating approaches, served African American females the most. African American males were the least likely to benefit from any of the methods.
The news media and bloggers have used the study results to question the merits of financing the sizable diversity training industry. In January 2008, the Washington Post used quotes from “longtime diversity trainer” Dr. Billy E. Vaughn (Diversity Training University International) and others to make the point that Kalev’s research  suggests other strategies may be more effective than diversity training for mobilizing people of color and women into management roles.
- Vaughn, B. "The history of diversity training and its pioneers", Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Management, pp. 11-16, Spring 2007. DTUI.com Publications Division: San Francisco.
- Michael Bird: Improving Project Productivity with Diverse Membership 2007. Accessed April 15, 2009.
- Orlando Richard, "Diversity at the Top May Boost the Bottom Line," September, 2010.
- Hans Bader: Diversity Training Backfires OpenMarket.org. December 26, 2007. Accessed April 15, 2009.
- Gail Heriot: White Guys Have No Rights. And They’d Better Shut Up If Think They Have (Part 1) December 23, 2007. Accessed April 15, 2009.
- Fitzgerald v. Mountain States Tel & Tel. Co.
- Alexandra Kalev, Frank Dobbin and Erin Kelley (2006), "Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies", American Sociological Review 71: 589–617
- Shankar Vedantam: Most Diversity Training Ineffective, Study Finds The Washington Post, p. A03, January 20, 2008