Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice Launches Workplace Diversity Training Program

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice Launches Workplace Diversity Training Program

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice has launched a workplace diversity and inclusion training program, a key component in efforts to meet its mission while diversifying its financial base.

The 53-year-old nonprofit draws about half of its revenue from one event - an annual tribute to a significant cultural leader. This year the OCCJ will honor former Mayor Kathy Taylor with an Oct. 27 Tulsa Convention Center dinner. Revenues from that and other sources allow the $525,000-budgeted OCCJ to manage a number of educational, religious and other programs confronting racism, bias and bigotry.

The workplace consulting program promises a new revenue stream to augment that annual dinner.

"I think it's just a smart move for companies to do this," said OCCJ Executive Director Nancy Day. "Even if they don't have a pressing problem, it's a very proactive approach that just might prevent or cut down on problems in the future. Anytime you've got a diverse workforce, and every day the workforce is more diverse, there are going to be human relations issues. It's just inevitable."

Jeff Matthews, OCCJ program director, actually rolled out the diversity training project in June 2010, a year before its planned debut. He said that early effort helped him smooth out some of the wrinkles.

The program has one existing client, with proposals out to attract several more.

"We feel good about it," Matthews said in an interview Wednesday. "If we can deliver four or five of these a year, we feel like we've met our goal."

Rather than use a predetermined program, Matthews said the OCCJ surveys the company's objectives, assesses its needs and builds an individual training module to accomplish those goals.

Matthews declined to discuss program costs due to the individual nature of each client.

"It varies," he said. "We have to take a look at their public sector or private sector status, how much they want, how many employees they may want to include in this training, materials that come into play."

That missing detail, and the program's individual nature, made it hard for some analysts to evaluate.

"It's probably going to take them some time to gain some credibility with it, until they have some customers using it and being satisfied with it and recommending it to others," said Tom Patt, president-elect of the Oklahoma Public Human Resources Association and director of compensation for the Oklahoma Office of Personnel Management. …

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