Diversity: Proving that it works
  • leadership
  • Blog post

Diversity: Proving that it works

One big challenge to any corporate diversity effort is the widely held assumption that people’s attitudes don’t really change.

“Doing diversity,” many believe, amounts to nothing more than a feel-good exercise, because people remain just as prejudiced – or just as fair – afterward as they were before.

Fortunately, such beliefs are demonstrably wrong. Here’s a quick exercise from diversity trainers Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers that will both prove to people that they can change and help them gain a vision of what that change could look like:

Past v. Present
Give your trainees pen and paper. Ask them to reflect and write about this question: “What are my present beliefs, attitudes and values about people of other races/ethnic groups?”

Give them 5-10 minutes to work, then move to the next question: “What were my past beliefs, attitudes and values about such people 10 years ago?”

After another 5-10 minutes, break the audience into small groups. (If you have fewer than 6-7 trainees altogether, this step may not be necessary.)

Have people discuss the similarities and changes in their attitudes over time. If they’re being frank, they may uncover some startling differences – not always positive ones.

Looking forward
Last, have everyone discuss how they’d like their attitudes about other races/ethnic groups to change in the next 5-7 years. Reconvene and have the discussion groups report. The whole thing need take no longer than 45-50 minutes.

The trainer can use the reports to stress how attitudes toward diverse co-workers can shift over time, and how it’s key for the success of the organization to shape this change in positive ways.

photo credit: Capture Queen™

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