What Is Diversity Training in the Workplace? - Definition & Importance

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  • 0:01 What Is Diversity Training?
  • 0:34 Why Have Diversity Training?
  • 1:13 How to Create…
  • 2:04 The Importance of…
  • 3:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Paul Mckinney

Paul has been in higher education for 17 years. He has a master's degree and is earning his PhD in Community College Leadership.

Expert Contributor
Wendy Kwong

Wendy has an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree from Laurentian University in Canada. She has over 10 years of teaching and accounting experience.

Diversity training is an ongoing process to educate employees on the proper way to treat people of different backgrounds. The main goal of a successful diversity training program is to create a positive work environment.

What is Diversity Training?

The purpose of diversity training is to increase participants' cultural awareness, knowledge, and communication. Diversity training can benefit an organization by helping to prevent civil rights violations, increasing the inclusion of different identity groups, and promoting better teamwork. The main goal of a successful diversity training program is to create a positive work environment by helping employees recognize and be tolerant of differences among co-workers.

Why Have Diversity Training?

Diversity training represents the opportunity for employers to educate employees about diversity. Although diversity training cannot completely change an individual's beliefs, it does have the ability to increase awareness, impart knowledge, and educate employees on how to accept differences among fellow employees. Organizations use diversity training to bring out the best in their employees. Organizations also want to break down the barriers that separate different types of employees, such as ethnic, social, and political barriers, so they can work together and be productive as a team.

How to Create Diversity Training

Establishing a diversity training plan takes time and effort. There is more to it than just hiring someone to talk with employees about diversity. For diversity training to be effective, an organization should ensure their training program is an ongoing effort supported by top management. Here are a few of the important items that must be implemented so that diversity training is successful:

  • Integrate training into organizational practices and goals
  • Adopt specific definitions for workplace diversity, affirmative action, and equal employment opportunity
  • Set up workforce diversity policies
  • Establish a resource library for participants to use following the training
  • Identify non-training activities that will support lessons learned from the training, which include posters, staff meetings, newsletters, informational brochures, and videos

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Additional Activities

Writing Prompts about Diversity Training in the Workplace

Story Prompt:

As a human resources manager, write a story about the last firm event that you were tasked with organizing. The firm event was scheduled to take place on a Friday afternoon. All employees were expected to attend and actively participate as the event was focused on diversity training in the workplace. What type of activities were planned to promote workplace diversity? What kind of team building exercises were coworkers involved in during the event?

Discussion Question:

Suppose you have just started your summer work practicum at a new company. Not long after you begin working at the company, you notice that people tend to gravitate towards coworkers of the same ethnic background during employee lunch and coffee breaks. However, you also notice that the staff kitchen has a company suggestion box. While all suggestions are taken into consideration, prizes are awarded at the end of each month for the best suggestion. Winners can choose to remain anonymous if they wish. What suggestions would you submit to promote more diversity within the workplace? Include a discussion about how the submitted ideas can be successfully carried out.

Journal Prompt:

Imagine a company has recently brought you on as the new hiring manager to fill the shoes of the previous hiring manager who has retired. Shortly after you begin your new job, you notice that the team of about a dozen people is predominantly made up of people from the same cultural background. In the upcoming year, the company is looking to expand its workforce by up to fifty percent. Write a journal about what hiring practices you would put into place to promote equal opportunity employment and affirmative action as well as what company policies you would implement to encourage diversity in the workplace.


Story Solution:

At the Friday afternoon firm event, a number of activities were planned to promote workplace diversity. For example, team members were asked ahead of time to submit fun facts about themselves and where they are from. Then at the firm event, everyone took turns guessing who the facts applied to. Once accurately matched, the participants elaborated on the fun facts they shared about themselves and where they are from. To promote team building, teams were assigned to research a specific country and prepare a dish (make this voluntary of course) to share originating from that country. Afterwards, teams took turns sharing information about their assigned country and explaining the cultural significance behind the dish they prepared.

Discussion Question Solution:

To promote more diversity within the workplace, you could suggest that the company consider arranging lunch and learn diversity training sessions for employees. During the lunch session, employees can brainstorm workplace diversity ideas while working together in pre-selected teams made up of members from different cultural backgrounds. In order to successfully carry out the ideas, the information discussed can be documented after each training session. Then the information can be shared by preparing posters for the office, sharing newsletters internally with all staff, and establishing a resource library for employees.

Journal Solution:

To promote equal opportunity employment and affirmative action, the next round of hiring would focus on diversifying the existing team. For example, hiring practices could consider adding new team members from visible minority groups. As a hiring manager, you could also look into what kind of new hires would result in a well-rounded team consisting of members from different ethnicity, genders, and ages. Furthermore, to encourage diversity in the workplace, you could implement company policies that emphasize zero tolerance for racial discrimination. Company policies should also be premised on trust and respect, encouraging inclusion among team members in a positive work environment. You will also need to develop recruiting sources that will provide a diverse candidate pool. Minority colleges and universities would be a start.

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