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More on Diversity Training

August 2005
George Mathews

I have received some reponses questioning my spending time on diversity training. Following is a response from USATF consultant Radious Guess, President, E Pluribus Unum Consultants. Ms. Guess is leading us through our education on this important subject. I hope this information is valuable. gm
Diversity training is a great place to start, but who needs the training?
You do, if you work for an organization or live in a neighborhood that does not allow you to transact with a substantial number of people from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds on a daily basis.
You do, if you have never shared a meal, watched a movie, or fellowshipped in your home with someone who is your racial, ethnic, or cultural opposite.
Through diversity training, you can learn strategies to help interpret the behaviors of those who are racially, ethnically, and culturally different from yourself in order to assure a welcoming and productive climate and environment for everyone.
Understand Others
Diversity training experiences help you better understand how to help neighbors, clients, co-workers and colleagues cope with, understand, and appreciate the value of differences and the value of fairness regardless of difference, and to actively challenge personal and institutional prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping when it surfaces.
Many times we feel more secure with sameness, afraid of being different ourselves, or getting close to anyone who is different.
Awareness Opportunities
Participating in diversity training sessions offers opportunities to increase your awareness of behaviors that may put you and/or your organization at risk of maintaining our nation as separate and unequal. Diversity training experiences help one build specific professional skills for interacting more effectively with people who are racially, ethnically, and culturally different from yourself.
Diversity training sessions create opportunities to discuss and develop strategies to counter prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping in order to productively and comfortably transact in our increasingly multicultural and multilingual society.
What is Diversity?
In essence, diversity encompasses all the ways in which human beings are both similar and different. It involves variations in factors we control as well as those over which we have no choice. These factors give us areas of commonality through which we can connect with others, and aspects of difference from which we can learn. They also represent points of contention over which we can have conflict.
Similarities and differences have been with us since men and women have inhabited the planet; however, diversity becomes an issue of concern to organizations and communities when these differences impact the workplace and living environment.
If assumptions and preconceived notions prevent talented employees from being hired or heard, if values and differences block communication and teamwork, or if lack of knowledge about cultural norms loses customers, diversity becomes a front-and-center focus for organizations.
To capitalize on the benefits diversity can bring into the workplace and to deal with the challenges it presents, it is critical for us to understand the many dimensions of diversity and participate in sharing about their impact in the workplace and our society.
Who needs to attend diversity training? Everyone!

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