March 8, 2010

The Magical One Day Training Solution

Did you see the article in the Boston Globe yesterday with the provocative title?

"Who's still biased? Diversity training has swept corporate America. Just one problem: It doesn’t seem to work."   




This article is provocative and also informative and though there is minimal evidence presented that proves diversity training " doesn't work", there is a strong argument that there is a lack of clear evidence that it DOES work--at least if the goal is to eradicate workplace discrimination based upon racial, ethnic, gender, age, sexual orientation, and other differences.
What the article failed to point out, however, is that corporate training frequently "doesn't work". This is because training is often used when real developmental learning,  organizational restructuring or corporate-wide strategic initiatives are actually required. Unfortunately, training is too frequently used as a panacea. 
But let's take Diversity Training as an example.  Sending your employees to a one day training program is of minimal effectiveness if they return to a company that does not value differences. And this is especially true if top leadership is not involved or does not buy in to the value of such programs.  Diversity training programs frequently happen only at lower levels of an organization.   The executive team may support it; Yet, look at the executive team and what do you see? You guessed it, primarily white and male.
If an organization is serious about valuing differences, it will not rely  upon one day training programs for mid to lower level staff.  It will take a systematic look at how diversity is represented throughout the organization and make a commitment to address the issue in a multi-faceted way.  First stop?  Board of Directors.