Dangers of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Programs


Dangers of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Programs


Article by Denise Young MAct who offers empowering Keynotes, Training and Facilitation services to a variety of organizations in areas of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Leadership and Communications.Development.


I delivered Equity, Diversity and Inclusion workshops to a company. It did not go well. I was a co-facilitator and my role was to deliver 10 complex topics in 2 x 45 minute sessions with the last session to tie it all together. After the second session, I was told not to deliver the last session as I was not engaging and didn’t seem to know my stuff. Yes, I am accountable for not being engaging but this plays into a bigger issue that this was a perfect example of the dangers of some challenges organizations face when running EDI workshops.


Reasons it did not go well:

  1. Not providing the necessary time to cover complex topics. They asked for 10 complex EDI topics to be covered in 2 x 45 sessions. a. Prior to delivery I indicated that the topics are complex and I do not have the expertise in some of these topics but could have surface level discussions. They were persistent to continue as is: Outcome: Content was rushed, could not be “engaging” or ensure proper understanding of concepts. This resulted in an ineffective learning environment.

  2. Assuming that anyone can deliver all aspects of EDI. They had someone who never taught these concepts deliver the last session. a. Again assigning someone who does not have a deep understanding of the concepts and complexity could have opposite impacts of what is desired due to not have the ability to answer questions.

  3. Organization was not Aligned with the Value of Creating an Inclusive Culture a. Excluding me for the last session based on some things that were beyond my control was not showing an inclusive workplace. They did not call to seek to understand they had my co-facilitator call me. I had to call to “fight” for them to include me and to see that they were putting my colleague in an uncomfortable position. b. The message received is that in this organization, no second chances are given. EDI is complex and people are going to mess up so if no second chances are given, this creates fear in the workplace.

  4. The training was mandatory. I had a comment of “why do we need this training”. As much as it may be easy to get angry at this comment, I understood where this person was coming from. They were not at a stage to be open and having them take mandatory training was not respecting where that manager was at. a. “Trainers tell us that people often respond to compulsory courses with anger and resistance—and many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups afterward.”

“It shouldn’t be surprising that most diversity programs aren’t increasing diversity,” wrote Dobbin and Kalev. “Despite a few new bells and whistles, courtesy of big data, companies are basically doubling down on the same approaches they’ve used since the 1960s—which often make things worse, not better.”


What Can We Do?

  1. Offer voluntary not mandatory EDI training when appropriate a. EDI training can be effective, but do not make it mandatory, it does more harm and increases the bias’. i. This is only suggested if there are currently no mandatory training requirements for accreditation purposes etc.

  2. Ensure Your EDI Advisor has the knowledge and support on how to lead an effective program a. In my experience, I have had people who are in EDI positions share with me that they feel pressure as they were put into this role without the tools or support to succeed. b. This is not the sole responsibility of this one person. The programming needs to be supported and role modeled with Senior Leaders.This is not to say this person can not succeed but support them with proper training and tools to make sure they succeed. c.Someone asked me if a white/causian man should lead an EDI program. My response based on what I have witnessed in my work career is yes if the following criteria is met: i. hey are only the “facilitator of the program”, not the “face’. If they have the experience and understand the complexity of EDI and are willing to seek to understand and ensure the program is truly inclusive of all perspectives. ii. if training is offered, ensure they bring in the person with a shared lived experience that can train in the specific area.

  3. Mentoring Programs: a.“Mentoring programs make companies’ managerial echelons significantly more diverse: On average they boost the representation of black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women, and Hispanic and Asian-American men, by 9% to 24%.”

  4. Have people integrate with other groups of people in an organic, not “mandatory” way a. People’s stereotypes go away as they get to know people from other groups, especially if they work side by side with them. If you are white and have not been exposed to African-Americans very much, we know from that natural experiment during World War II and subsequent studies that intense exposure through working side by side helps you to individualize people from a group that you are not familiar with and stop stereotyping them.

Resources:

Why Do Diversity Programs Fail? - Big Think

How to Fight Racism at Work, Harvard Business Review


Denise Young, CEO/Founder/Consultant: Tiger’s Eye Advisory Group.Denise creates collaborative work spaces where “everyone is at the table”. She has a Bachelor of Management and a Masters of Arts in Communication and Technology from University of Alberta. Reach out to Denise, if your organization is interested in EDI, Leadership or Communication Workshops, Keynotes or Facilitation Services.


Connect with Denise:

LinkedIN: Denise Young

Website: www.tigerseye.ca

Email: deniseyoung@tigerseye.ca


Connect with Denise:

LinkedIN: Denise Young

Website: www.tigerseye.ca

Email: deniseyoung@tigerseye.ca

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