Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Beyond Diversity Training: Diversity and Equity Work Require Taking Action

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Beyond Diversity Training: Diversity and Equity Work Require Taking Action

Article excerpt

If you are socially conscious in the new millennium then you have heard words like diversity, equity and fairness. Those words aren't typically part of the lexicon of people who are stuck in the past, refusing to be a part of the conversation about race and gender because they won't take the time to understand it. In today's work environment, diversity and gender balance are being talked about at the highest levels. Diversity training has become so common that it's almost a given for any organization.

The goal of these training sessions has always been to give us a better perspective on people different from us. A companion goal has been to have us do a self-evaluation about our personal beliefs and how we treat others. All of this is laudable and should be applauded as we have come a long way. When it comes to diversity and equity work, there is information overload. Books, classes and seminars abound, all designed to help us treat others the way we wish to be treated. Colleges and universities have stepped forward to champion diversity issues. In addition to classes on the subject, some schools have gone so far as to hire diversity consultants.

While laudable on one level, it is my view that there should be some assessment done by the campus to determine attitudes and dispositions about diversity which is arguably a sensitive topic. Without a comprehensive campus assessment, the initiative may not get off the ground. Campus officials must also evaluate the proposed consultants so that that their style and delivery of the subject matter is acceptable. Without this assessment workshop participants will not come away with the desired outcomes.

Corporate leaders, business leaders, civic leaders and educators all go through hours of diversity training. Because of how far America has come in race relations, I would like to believe that these sessions are effective. Now, here is where I believe diversity and equity workshops fall short. They may change minds, but do they change practice? Diversity and equity workshops should change the way we do business. If you are able to look across a room and say to a person who doesn't look like you that you in some way understand them better, then that is half the battle. Many of us have been in enough diversity sessions where participants are both emotional and empathetic. …

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