The Solution To Workplace Diversity

By James Archer | Cultural Diversity

Sep 08

Let's face it... "Mandatory Diversity Training" doesn’t work.

At best, it alienates and annoys your staff and at worst, can actually harm intercultural relations instead of the intended goal.

According to the Harvard Business Review, "A study of 829 companies over 31 years showed that diversity training had “no positive effects in the average workplace.” Millions of dollars a year were spent on the training resulting in, well, nothing. Attitudes — and the diversity of the organizations — remained the same."

Further, the researches who performed that study, came to the conclusion that "In firms where training is mandatory or emphasizes the threat of lawsuits, training actually has negative effects on diversity."

Why Do You Need Diversity Training?

There are two different reasons why you might want to have a diversity training program in your business.

The first, is simply to avoid lawsuits.

The other is to create an inclusive environment which fosters a sense of value, respect and contribution in your employees.

The unfortunate truth is that most companies approach diversity training from the first position.  They simply want to prevent any event that might result in a negative impact on the bottom line.

The most common response when faced with the question of diversity "issues", is to have a training session that outlines what people can and cannot say.  Almost every medium or larger sized company has held one or more of these meetings.

The problem with these is that scenarios that they teach become the butt of participant jokes, and actually end up promoting more prejudice than they prevent.

Another common response is "category training".  In this type of diversity training, people are divided into obvious categories like gender, ethnicity or age, and then told to share a little about how they see themselves. 

Then they are divided into more subtle categories, like shared experiences, likes, dislikes or beliefs, and then asked to share.

The comparison is intended to illuminate the similarities in people of different cultures, but unfortunately, the process often fails because, ironically, it violates the recommendations from the first training.

However, even though most commonly used methods of diversity training actually promote more prejudice than acceptance, there is still a deep need for this type of training in the workplace.

So What Is The Solution

The solution to this, and the solution that ShareLingo has been publicizing for years, is to train people to work with a diverse set of individuals. Not experiences, not categories... people.

By moving past cultural identity and into individuality, your employees can learn how to see the real people, rather than labels and stereotypes.

Connecting your English and Spanish speaking staff, managers, and customers so they can teach and mentor each other does.

The best way to do this is to teach your employees how to communicate authentically and with empathy

However, this can be extremely challenging when you have a diverse, multicultural  workforce that literally live in different worlds.

At ShareLingo, our consulting team has been addressing this issue for companies across Colorado for over three years.

Further, we don't just tell you what you should do – we step in and help you DO it. 

Our classes are tailored to your organization.  Whether you are in health care, banking, hospitality, construction, education, landscaping... it really doesn't matter; our classes will eliminate your diversity problem.

The natural conversations that occur during a ShareLingo training lead to real learning and understanding, and we encourage this! Not just because language and communication is so important, but also because our participants share cultural insights that cross the diversity gap.

If your company is struggling with diversity issues, or would like to proactively address them with a comprehensive program that will improve employee retention, eliminate diversity problems, protect you from brand-damaging lawsuits, and even improve your client engagement, don't hesitate to contact ShareLingo today for a complimentary consultation.

We're committed to crossing the multicultural gap.

James Archer


About the Author

James began thinking about The ShareLingo Project in 2012 after trying, and failing, to learn Spanish. But once he realized that face-to-face practice could make all the difference, he made progress, and is now fluent. While learning Spanish, James felt a strong desire to connect with native Spanish speakers for conversation practice, and to also learn about the many cultures that make up our community. WHY aren't there more places that connect people from different cultures to practice together? In 2013, he founded ShareLingo and began work on developing the proprietary model and methods that the company uses. In addition to the United States, James has lived in Australia and Europe, and has traveled extensively throughout Asia and Latin America. Prior to developing ShareLingo, he had been a Computer Engineer, the General Manager of Australia’s largest conference and Exhibition Company, an art gallery owner, and an inventor, holding multiple patents in his name. James has served on multiple corporate and non-profit boards. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from Iowa State University, and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Rochester.

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