Diversity Training Backlash: 7 Reasons Why It Exists

Diversity Training Backlash: 7 Reasons Why It Exists

The Facts

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Diversity training backlash occurs when organizations fail to support diversity-associated thoughts, feelings, or behaviors in recruiting or retaining diverse personnel.

Diversity trainings are usually held for the facilitation of positive intergroup interaction among human beings belonging to different backgrounds with various personalities, beliefs, and life experiences to reduce prejudice and discrimination. However, some organizations have negative results or reactions due to lack of planning, poor reach among employees, etc., which are discussed further in detail. 

If you are looking for modern diversity training that is used by companies such as Blackberry and Stanford University to help build empathy through narrative storytelling while using effective tactics to reduce social and psychological barriers to inclusion, equity, and diversity, contact Impactly today for a free demo.

Types of Diversity Training

  1. Basic Diversity Training

This training is conducted with the primary objective of fostering respect and empathy among coworkers. This can help create a company culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Modules covered in basic training programs:

  • Anti-racism training
  • Anti-sexism training
  • Cultural sensitivity training
  • Human resource compliance training
  1. Awareness Training

This training is based on perception and knowledge and acts as a sensitizer for employees. It helps them to understand cultural aspects and become aware of their prejudices. This training involves a session for employees to learn about various people from various backgrounds for building workplace equity.

Benefits for organizing an awareness training:

  • Helps in problem-solving and decision-making
  • Emphasizes respect and value amongst co-workers
  • Promotes awareness about employees' differences
  • Uplifts demeaned and underrepresented people in the mainstream world
  • Eradicates the influence of prejudices
  1. Skill-based Diversity Training

Every organization needs to conduct skill-based training sessions to groom new entrants with practical skills and develop their proficiency in handling diversity in the workplace. It is conducted via lectures, role plays, e-learning courses, slideshow presentations, and interactive games. These training sessions can help employees clarify their interpretation of cross-cultural differences and adaptability.

This training is involved in specific areas such as:

  • Developing new ways for communications with a diverse workforce
  • Reinforcing existing skill sets
  • Building technical skill sets for administrative purposes
  • Encouraging skill-building methods
  1. Diversity Audits

Audit pieces of training are formal assessments carried out to evaluate the current situations and help professionals to mitigate and identify discrimination in the workplace. Proper audit campaigns can motivate employees to align with the company values and enhance their experience within the company.

These audits are conducted to:

  • Assess happenings around the office
  • Manage employee attitudes toward coworkers such as periodical reviews related to policies & procedures
  • Encourage transparency between employees
  • Identify discrimination of any sort
  1. Mobile Training

Amid global pandemic, it is wiser to go digital and opt for e-training programs for understanding diversity and inclusion. This is more applicable in terms of convenience, accommodations, and cost-effectiveness.

Advantages of going digital:

  • Programs can be organized as per employee availabilities
  • Multiple accessibilities at the same time
  • Recordings are possible for employees unable to access at the time of schedule

Reasons for Diversity Training backlash

Here are 7 reasons why training conducted for diversity may have negative setbacks overall.

  1. No Broad-minded Planning

Diversity and inclusion programs need to be implemented with long-range planning and objectives. Ineffective alignment and improper strategies can create gaps in program delivery and affect sustainability.

Broad-minded planning can ensure cultural development characterized by diversity, equity, and inclusivity amongst different people.

  • Lacking Dedication and Commitment

Backlash in diversity training happens when employees are not properly guided on the basis of commitment and accountability from senior leaders and hence lack motivation to carry the plan forward.

  • Poor Delivery of Instructions

Employees lack understanding of the significance of new information presented to them due to usage of poor instructional models leading to diversity backlash. Leaders and activists need to guide employees through the right application of teaching guidelines.

  • Lacking Representation

The main objective of diversity and inclusion is to give equal importance amongst people of different genders, ethnicities, social classes, and different cultural backgrounds. Backlash happens when this is not appropriately followed or represented.

  • No Strategic Ownership

Diversity and inclusion, when initiated and executed the right way, can shift a company's position in the market. It can be regarded as a strategic business priority, but still, companies place this responsibility into the hands of HR.

Though HR can ensure and be effective towards promoting D&I through recruitment, retention, employee engagement, and performance management processes, they fail to stir up responsibility without strategic ownership.

The CEO of the company should process diversity policies and be committed and accountable for their actions. Companies where the CEO actively engages in diversity promotions can eventually stand out better.

  • Inadequate Attention to Cultural Transformation

Focus and attention are being given more towards diversity numbers rather than the extent of cultural transformation. Even though numbers can be considered as an important measure of progress, it does not represent the full picture.

This can hurt employee’s morale and confidence and inflict painful, disillusioning experiences resulting in lower productivity and disengagement from diverse groups.

  • Inapplicable Intersectionality

Many companies fail to notice the impact of intersectionality in their diversity and inclusion programs. This concept is based on clarifying how a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression, and how to overcome them.

Ignorance of this key concept can result in people feeling excluded from the community, unable to bring their whole selves to the workplace as a result of placing them into analogous groups and ignoring the layered aspects of their experiences.

4 Simple yet Effective Steps to Overcome Backlashes

  1. Equity First

Prominent efforts need to be taken to ensure absolute equity among the employees no matter their race, gender, ethnicity, social class, income level, and different cultural backgrounds.

Companies should focus more on recruiting candidates, building teams, and leading diversity rather than racism and discrimination. Every employee needs to be provided with the resources and environment they deserve and need to succeed.

While equality refers to giving everyone the same resources, equity is facilitated by providing individual employees the resources and opportunities specific to their needs so that they can reach the same level of success as their colleagues.

  1. Closing Pay Gap

Equity can be embraced by conducting a pay analysis and ensuring that the same job opportunities and pay are accessible to all employees. This is one major reason for backlash which creates certain opportunities unattainable for underrepresented groups, resulting in a major stumbling block.

There should be transparency in pay scales across the organization and a comprehensive analysis needs to be conducted and properly implemented.

  1. Fruitful Feedback

Diversity backlash and its gaps can be filled once the organization comes to know where the fault is and what they are lagging. This can be accomplished by conducting surveys for employees to uncover more substantial data to help build more effective diversity training programs.

Deep insights on employee satisfaction can be uncovered by their honest feedback.

  1. Centering People

Strategizing diversity training programs is the important key to be considered. Simply initiating a program with no proper strategy or forward-thinking can result in some initial success followed by an immediate flat line or regression.

Activation and leverage on the full potential of employees lead to the triumph of organizations and this can be achieved by the excellence of leadership by the management. Once leaders come into an innovative mentality, success follows by embracing transparency, trust, individuality, risk, social responsibility, entrepreneurial mindset, and passion.

Bottom Line

Change can happen only gradually and there are no easy fixes or shortcuts to ensure it. All organizations and management authorities should be patient and commit to the long haul by innovating the right strategies both for the growth of their companies as well as the society.

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