Study Cites Common Flaws in Diversity Training

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<strong>Boston </strong><br />Despite the steady growth of diversity and inclusion training, the benefit is often diminished by faulty delivery, according to a study by Novations Group, a global consulting firm based in Boston. <br /> <br />When asked about D&I programs provided to their organization, nearly one-third of 2,500 senior human resources executives cited shortcomings such as no reinforcement tools or metrics. Other typical flaws were trite content and little thought leadership. <br /> <br />Organizations are sometimes disappointed with diversity and inclusion training they are provided. In your experience, which of the following flaws has your organization encountered?<br /> <br /><ul><li>No tools were provided to reinforce the training: 29 percent</li><li>No metrics were offered to evaluate training&rsquo;s effectiveness: 24 percent</li><li>Diversity addressed, but not development and advancement issues: 22 percent</li><li>Clear objectives were not established: 15 percent</li><li>Material was too U.S. focused: 15 percent</li><li>Concerns of line managers were not dealt with: 15 percent</li><li>Content was trite, humdrum: 14 percent</li><li>Little thought leadership was shown: 9 percent</li><li>Facilitation skills were poor: 8 percent</li><li>Employer&rsquo;s policies and practices were not addressed: 7 percent</li></ul><br />&ldquo;The findings should serve as a warning to both organizations and D&I program providers,&rdquo; said Novations Vice President Fred Smith. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the mistakes and shortcomings identified in the study that create &lsquo;diversity fatigue.&rsquo; The best diversity training has moved far beyond the one-dimensional, feel-good event and today needs to be held to the same rigorous standards as other corporate training. Anything less cheats participants, wastes resources and undermines diversity efforts.&rdquo;<br /><br />According to Smith, some of the deficiencies highlighted in the study apply to training programs in general. &ldquo;Metrics, reinforcement and objectives are always essential and often lacking,&rdquo; said Smith. &ldquo;But some issues are particular to diversity training: line manager concerns, focus and the organization&rsquo;s development practices.&rdquo;<br /><br />Middle managers have to become part of D&I planning, even if they do not participate in the actual training, emphasized Smith. &ldquo;To minimize flaws, the chief diversity officer should build relationships with their middle management teams to gain buy-in and long-term involvement. Managers need to see a connection with strategic initiatives.&rdquo;<br /><br />Overemphasis on American-style diversity is also a frequent complaint, observed Smith. &ldquo;What used to be the convention, addressing past grievances and so on, isn&rsquo;t as relevant to the needs of today&rsquo;s workforce mix. Instead, D&I has been redirected to expanding opportunity and leveraging talent as a basic objective.&rdquo;<br /><br />A more fundamental problem, in Smith&rsquo;s view, is diversity programs that simply presume it is just employees who must change. &ldquo;Nothing significant will be achieved if the organization itself doesn&rsquo;t look at its systems, biases and ways of doing things. There&rsquo;s no return in changing the attitudes or awareness of participants if management also doesn&rsquo;t make some of the right changes.&rdquo; <br /><br />Equation Research conducted the Internet survey of 2,556 senior HR and T&D executives in December 2007.<br />

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