Is Diversity Training Necessary?

Training & Development, February 1994 | Go to article overview

Is Diversity Training Necessary?


For the most part, respondents to November's "FaxForum" survey support diversity-training programs. But only for the most part. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they believe diversity training is necessary. Twenty-two percent said it is not necessary, and 7 percent said they were undecided.

The most striking aspect of the responses was the vehemence people showed for their views, on both sides of the issue. Many attached extra sheets of paper to explain their responses.

"Diversity work connects people," said a trainer with a New Mexico health-care organization, "and addresses us/them barriers of all kinds. If human beings don't need training to value differences, explain Bosnia, the KKK, EEO, ADA, the furor over gay rights, etc."

A Chicago-based HR representative with a Fortune 500 firm said that "prejudice and bias cost companies millions in reduced productivity and creativity. Training is one of the most effective ways to communicate a company's vision and business strategy for diversity."

"Is diversity training necessary?" one respondent repeated. "It depends. I don't think that diversity training should be offered as a separate course. I think that it should be a part of each training session conducted, from telephone techniques to technical-skills training."

Some of the most telling responses came from those who said diversity training is not necessary. "It's not an issue of diversity," said a city employee in Texas. "It's an issue of treating people fairly and with respect. We are all the same and should try to get along."

A Tennessee company president echoed her views. "True diversity is among individuals," he said. "We need to understand and appreciate each other as human persons."

A diversity opponent in Virginia said diversity training is "at once a fad and a way to push political correctness into corporate America. Those who espouse it usually have a program of their own they're trying to sell."

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said their companies offer diversity training. …

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