The dangers of doing your own Diversity Awareness Training - [website] Email Print
Published: 24th of Jul 2017 by: Debbie Engelbrecht CEO

Obviously all training managers have a limited budget.

It has been our experience at Staff Training that whilst most organisations see the need for diversity training, they also see it as a secondary requirement to other types of training and development, in other words, it’s a nice-to-have.

If one, however, weighs up the outcomes derived from diversity training against the expense, or the ROI as such, it becomes obvious that we need to have a paradigm shift when it comes to our approach to diversity training.

The reported benefits of Diversity Awareness Training from our clients are:

On an organisational level -

• Improved employee engagement
• Improved retention rates
• Improved innovation
• Improved customer awareness
• Improved efficiency
• Improved financials

It took me a while, but then the penny dropped; this particular sequence of improved organisational function is nearly directly linked to the Balanced Score Card theory of Kaplan and Norton.

I then looked at the impact of Diversity Awareness on Teams and the feedback from our clients relating to the training they have undertaken at this level. The results were equally interesting.

• Less conflict in teams
• Improved empathy, loyalty and trust in teams leading to more effective team work
• Decrease in project turnaround times
• Greatly improved innovation along with quicker adaptation to change

Whilst analysing this feedback it becomes abundantly clear that diversity awareness, similar to emotional intelligence brings about personal growth in individuals that directly translates to a more collaborative approach, which in turn leads to more effective long-term and sustainable outcomes and solutions.

Why then are not all companies doing diversity awareness training as a first port of call in a country such as South Africa where we still have so much work left to do in this field? And that question brings us back to budgets and paradigm shifts.

We have had a number of organisations contact us for diversity training. The size of the training groups and the time we spend with them are important to us if we are to deliver on the results above. The smaller and more personal the group, the more we are able to coach the individual to reach their own conclusions and those “aha” moments we as facilitators love so much.

If we are not able to reach a fair compromise on this aspect of the training, depending on the particular challenges the organisation faces, we are likely to decline the project.

Experience shows us that when it comes to aspects of diversity, our individual conditioning is so entrenched that no person can tell us what to do. People can only ask us the questions that lead us to our own awareness. This takes a good coach and/or facilitator who has the experience to know when to back down, when their questioning is becoming too intrusive and/or when the questioning is increasing the likelihood of hitting a personal defense mechanism that brings with it unnecessary resistance. The delegates also respond very well to impartiality; they have an expectation of trust and an expectation that the space in which this exploration is done is a safe one.

For the above reasons we are of the opinion that when organisations take on diversity training as an internal project, their investment does not bring the same results. We are not saying that their facilitators are incompetent; we are saying that their facilitators do not have the credentials of impartiality and therefore the levels of trust are diminished. They also most likely have to fight the mindset that there is a hidden agenda and that the levels of transparency and honesty on those particular workshops do not quite reach the same level as with external facilitators.

Finally there is also the very high risk potential that should an organisation take on this training as an internal project and it does fail first time around that the resistance to it builds up within the organisation making the subsequent length of time an external facilitator has to invest into a group to reach the “aha” moment, so much longer.

In conclusion, we have also found that these particular scenarios also play out with other training projects such as ethics training. Our subsequent analysis thus brought us to the conclusion that any training that involves a paradigm shift and behaviour change is better off performed by external, independent and unbiased training providers.

(c) Debbie Engelbrecht, MD at Staff Training. Staff Training is a leadership and soft skills training company with over 60 workshops for you to choose from. Call 0861 996 660 for more information.

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