Our clients are more diverse, so we need to be too

Research has shown that most diversity training initiatives do not achieve their goals. In fact, many programs backfire and create even more bias. This is because people become resentful when they feel they’re being forced to adopt new attitudes, and resist being told how to think and behave.

The good news is that diversity initiates can work. Research has shown that the positive effects of diversity training were greater when it was complemented by other initiatives, targeted to both awareness and skill development, and conducted over a significant period of time. Essentially, effective diversity training is on-going, part of a larger initiative and about both acquiring skills in working with people and changing attitudes. It is not a “one shot deal.”

Companies have moved beyond just thinking about race and gender, towards understanding different countries, cultures, and markets. Rather than trying to hire quotas of people and then encouraging them to blend in, they are encouraging exploration of people’s differences to capture new business and increase the bottom line. People used to ask, “will this person fit with our team?” Now they ask, “what differences will this person bring to the team?”

Rather than simply accommodating employees of diverse backgrounds, an inclusive culture goes further, encouraging them to bring their “whole selves” – their passions, strengths, beliefs, backgrounds, priorities and relationships – to work. If diversity and inclusion efforts are perceived as superficial, the company has not succeeded in creating an environment that embraces and leverages the voices and capabilities of its entire workforce. Ultimately, if employees do not feel like they belong, efforts around inclusion and diversity will fall short.

Social Intelligence Training: Impact on Diversity and Inclusiveness

SOCIAL STYLEs training helps people become aware of their behavior and how they are perceived by others. They learn about their strengths and weaknesses in relation to how they communicate and connect with others. To encourage inclusiveness and diversity of thought, companies need to first understand the preferences of different Social Styles. When people embrace the “Platinum Rule” (treat others as they want to be treated) in communicating with one another, a sense of inclusion in the workplace improves.

“The most progressive companies are shifting their focus around diversity and inclusiveness. They’re recognizing that the greatest benefits come from having teams of diverse thinkers who bring multiple perspectives and approaches to the table.

Different thinking styles have different ways they make decisions, use their time or approach tasks, and this diversity of approaches helps companies to be more effective.”

One of the reasons traditional diversity training programs fail is they don’t account for people’s cognitive biases and the effects these have on attitudes and behavior. Typical diversity training often implies that people in majority groups are behaving badly, which can trigger negativity biases and actually create more underlying conflict than they solve.

As a compliment to diversity training, Resilience helps people withstand the adversity they face in the workplace. It helps strengthen their adaptability to stress and disruption and take personal responsibility for behavior, thoughts and reactions to be more mindful and effective at navigating diverse relationships.

“To get to new and disruptive ideas, you have to level the playing field where everyone can contribute and express themselves.”

“We link diversity and inclusiveness to our strategic objectives. To be competitive, we need to be disruptive, to create change and do things differently. We’re looking for new ideas; to take risks and do things differently. We need to get fresh ideas from a larger variety of people. This is essential to help the company become more Agile and innovative.”

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