Diversity training is any program designed to facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and generally teach individuals who are different from others how to work together effectively. "From the broad corporate perspective, diversity training is defined as raising personal awareness about individual differences in the workplace and how those differences inhibit or enhance the way people work together and get work done. In the narrowest sense, it is education about compliance – Affirmative Action (AA), Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), and sexual harassment." A competency based definition refers to diversity training as any solution designed to increase cultural diversity awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills. Diversity training is thought to be more needed because of the growing ethnic and racial diversity in the workplace. While major corporations believe that diversity training and active diversity hiring will assist them in remaining competitive in a global economy, other large organizations (universities and colleges) have been slow to embrace diversity training. Diversity training is often aimed to meet objectives such as attracting and retaining customers and productive workers; maintaining high employee morale; and/or fostering understanding and harmony between workers.
Despite purported and intended benefits, systematic studies have not shown benefits to diversity training and instead show that they backfire and lead to reductions in diversity and to discrimination complaints being taken less seriously.
According to Hans Bader, its opponents consider it an oppressive ideology and 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. 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 black females and males were appreciably lower than white females. Networking and mentoring, which were considered bias mitigating approaches, served black females the most. Black males were the least likely to benefit from any of the methods. Sue Steiner and collaborators have advocated that controversy be used as a cooperative learning style. They argue that attempting to see both sides of a controversial issue builds empathy and allows working environments to function better.
Alexandra Kalev conducted a comprehensive review of cultural diversity training conducted in 830 midsize to large U.S. workplaces over a thirty one year period. The results showed that diversity training was followed by a decrease of anywhere from 7.5-10% in the number of women in management. The percentage of black men in top positions fell by 12 percent. Similar effects were shown for Latinos and Asians. The study did not find that all diversity training is ineffective. Mandatory training programs offered to protect against discrimination lawsuits were called into question. Voluntary diversity training participation to advance organization’s business goals was associated with increased diversity at the management level.
An analysis of data from over 800 firms over 30 years shows that diversity training and grievance procedures backfires and leads to reductions in the diversity of the firms workforce. Other research shows that people "were less likely to take discrimination complaints seriously against companies who had diversity programs". As organizations and communities are becoming more globalized, there is a need for an expansion in relation to communication among individuals from all over the world, operating within a diverse environment. Some scholars believe it is beneficial for companies to train a diverse staff, as a reflection of the market in which you wish to serve. According to Jalai Armache, in a heterogeneous workplace environment filled with people knowledgeable of those with different backgrounds and nationalities, there is ability to easily expand an organization. There is an ability to create inventive solutions to issues being faced in the world market.
- Lindsey, Alex; King, Eden; Hebl, Michelle; Levine, Noah (September 2015). "The Impact of Method, Motivation, and Empathy on Diversity Training Effectiveness". Journal of Business and Psychology. 30 (3): 605–617. doi:10.1007/s10869-014-9384-3.
- Wheeler, M.L. (1994). "Diversity Training". The Conference Board. Research Report 1083-94RR.
- Vaughn, Billy E. (August 2015). "The history of diversity training & its pioneers". Diversity Officer Magazine Newsletter.
- Cocchiara, Faye K.; Connerley, Mary L.; Bell, Myrtle P. (November–December 2010). ""A GEM" for increasing the effectiveness of diversity training". Human Resource Management. 49 (6): 1089–1106. doi:10.1002/hrm.20396.
- Utz, Richard (January 18, 2017). "The Diversity Question in Administrative-Job Interviews". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Chavez, Carolyn I.; Weisinger, Judith Y. (Summer 2008). "Beyond diversity training: a social infusion for cultural inclusion". Human Resource Management. 47 (2): 331–350. doi:10.1002/hrm.20215.
- Dobbin, Frank; Kalev, Alexandra. "Why Diversity Management Backfires (And How Firms Can Make it Work)". ethics.harvard.edu. Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
- McGregor, Jena (July 1, 2016). "To improve diversity, don't make people go to diversity training. Really". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
- McElroy, Molly (3 April 2013). "Diversity programs give illusion of corporate fairness, study shows". UW Today. University of Washington. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
- Bader, Hans (26 December 2007). "Diversity training backfires". cei.org. Competitive Enterprise Institute. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- Kalev, Alexandra; Dobbin, Frank; Kelly, Erin (August 2006). "Best practices or best guesses? Assessing the efficacy of corporate affirmative action and diversity policies". American Sociological Review. 71 (4): 589–617. doi:10.1177/000312240607100404.
- Steiner, Sue; Brzuzy, Stephanie; Gerdes, Karen; Hurdle, Donna (2003). "Using structured controversy to teach diversity content and cultural competence". Journal of Teaching in Social Work. 23 (1–2): 55–71. doi:10.1300/J067v23n01_05.
- Vedantam, Shankar (2008-01-20). "Most Diversity Training Ineffective, Study Finds". The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973). ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
- Abreu, Kim. "The Myriad Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
- Armache, Jalal (March 2012). "Diversity in the workplace: benefits and challenges". Journal of International Diversity. 2012 (1): 59–75.