Diversity training
Diversity training is training
The term training refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. It forms the core of apprenticeships and provides the backbone of content at institutes of...

 for the purpose of increasing participants' cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills, which is based on the assumption that the training will benefit an organization by protecting against civil rights violations, increasing the inclusion of different identity groups, and promoting better teamwork.
Diversity training has been a controversial issue, due to moral considerations as well as questioned efficiency or even counterproductivity.

Leading diverse teams

According to Michael Bird, many project manager
Project manager
A project manager is a professional in the field of project management. Project managers can have the responsibility of the planning, execution, and closing of any project, typically relating to construction industry, architecture, computer networking, telecommunications or software...

s may feel that they are treading new territory as they lead project team
A team comprises a group of people or animals linked in a common purpose. Teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks.A group in itself does not necessarily constitute a team...

s made of individuals from different culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s, heterogeneous mixes, and differing demographics. This signals a lack of understanding of the techniques required to manage diverse teams which can lead to project managers being less efficient and effective. This in turn can cause the team member motivation, satisfaction levels and productivity to drop due to the lack of knowledge and skills needed to lead diverse teams. Bird further states that the project manager will need to refine and improve management techniques and should complete a post project evaluation to measure the overall results of managing the diverse teams.

Based on Bird’s research, the following positive approaches can be adopted by the project managers leading such heterogeneous teams in order to seek positive effects of managing diversity in project teams effectively:
  • Recognize that diversity will bring a greater skills base when managed properly
  • Improve the overall climate on diverse project teams in order to improve satisfaction, reduce conflicts, and improve team member retention
  • Encourage creativity, flexibility, and innovation among the team members which will allow the injection of new ideas and challenge the normal organizational mindsets

Bird further concludes in his article that managing diversity provides greater opportunities for project teams with better performance, and greater strategic awareness, which enables them to be more innovative and responsive.

Controversial issues

Observers characterize diversity training in very different ways. Its proponents consider it morally right, because it respects diversity
Respect diversity
The prerogative to respect diversity, often said to "begin with biodiversity" of non-human life, is basic to some 20th century studies such as cultural ecology, Queer studies, and anthropological linguistics....

, recognizing the value and contributions of every human being. They also view it as economically sound, because it enables organizations to draw on multiplicities of talents and strengths.

According to Hans Bader, its opponents consider it an oppressive ideological
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 re-education tactic, that actually injures the ability of organizations to attain their goals. It has been suggested that diversity training reinforces differences between individuals instead of concentrating on their commonalities, thus helping to further racialize the workplace and creating situations where people "tiptoe" around issues such as how to relate to people of different cultures as opposed to people learning to communicate with and truly understand each other. It may also, according to law professor Gail Heriot, amount to a "rather blatant form of racial and sexual harassment".

These opinions have been confirmed by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals which, in Fitzgerald v. Mountain States Tel & Tel. Co. (1995), noted that "diversity training sessions generate conflict and emotion" and that "diversity training is perhaps a tyranny of virtue."

In a paper published in the American Sociological Review
American Sociological Review
The American Sociological Review is a bimonthly, peer-reviewed academic journal covering all aspects of sociology, including new theoretical developments, results of research that advance the understanding of fundamental social processes, and methodological innovations. It is published by SAGE...

, the authors concluded efforts to mitigate managerial bias
Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of alternatives. Bias can come in many forms.-In judgement and decision making:...

 ultimately fail in the organization's aim to increase diversity in the management and leadership ranks. In contrast, programs which established specific responsibility for diversity, such as equal opportunity
Equal opportunity
Equal opportunity, or equality of opportunity, is a controversial political concept; and an important informal decision-making standard without a precise definition involving fair choices within the public sphere...

 staff positions or diversity task forces, have proven most effective in general. However, the results also indicate that White
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

s benefit significantly more from these structural changes. The benefits for African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 females and male
Male refers to the biological sex of an organism, or part of an organism, which produces small mobile gametes, called spermatozoa. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete or ovum, in the process of fertilization...

s were appreciably lower than European American females. Networking
Social network
A social network is a social structure made up of individuals called "nodes", which are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.Social...

 and mentor
In Greek mythology, Mentor was the son of Alcimus or Anchialus. In his old age Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor and Odysseus' foster-brother Eumaeus in charge of his son Telemachus, and of Odysseus' palace, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War.When Athena visited Telemachus she...

ing, which were considered bias mitigating approaches, served African American females the most. African American males were the least likely to benefit from any of the methods.

The news media and bloggers have used the study results to question the merits of financing the sizable diversity training industry. In January 2008, the Washington Post used quotes from “longtime diversity trainer” Dr. Billy E. Vaughn (Diversity Training University International) and others to make the point that Kalev’s research suggests other strategies may be more effective than diversity training for mobilizing people of color and women into management roles. Dr. Vaughn responded in his blog, the Kalev and his colleague’s assumption in conducting their research diversity training is useful for breaking the glass ceiling was ill-conceived.

External links

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