Should You Implement Diversity Training?

Vol. 11 No. 3

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There has been renewed conversation in the private school community recently about diversity training. Wikipedia defines diversity training as:

Training for the purpose of increasing participants' cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills, which is based on the assumption that the training will benefit an organization by protecting against civil rights violations, increasing the inclusion of different identity groups, and promoting better teamwork.

As with any training initiative, schools should reflect on their needs and objectives before launching this training. We’ve compiled several key questions for schools to ask themselves when contemplating diversity initiatives.

  • How do we define diversity? Are we focused on a particular type of diversity, or do we define diversity broadly (e.g., racial, ethnic, orientation, religious, socioeconomic.)?
  • Are we launching this training in response to an incident—or is it organic (i.e., flowing from our school’s mission, culture, and values)? Has an incident occurred that requires employee training? If so, will training resolve the issue—or, do we need to have a broader discussion about how we interact with one another within our community? Or, are we launching this because it is central to—and thus, an extension of—our mission, culture, and values as a school?
  • Is employee diversity training part of a larger, schoolwide diversity initiative (e.g., including efforts to recruit more diverse students/families)? Will the training be perceived as a random event, or will it be seen in the context of a broader, overall program?
  • Who is responsible for driving diversity at our school (Head, Division Heads, Director of Diversity)? After the training, what happens next … and who’s responsible for driving further initiatives forward?
  • What outcome are we hoping for from the training? How will we know if it has been successful? Are we hoping for changed behavior? Greater awareness?
  • Is the training best delivered by an outside consultant to provide an objective perspective? Or, is there someone on staff who has expertise in the subject and who would have credibility as a presenter? In your culture, are sensitive subjects best attended to in house? Or would an outside expert be more comfortable and effective?

By considering these questions before launching your diversity initiative, you are much more likely to successfully achieve your objectives and enhance your school’s community’s culture.

Additional ISM resources for Consortium Gold members:
I&P Vol. 33 No. 7 Compensation, Broadbanding, and Teacher Impact
I&P Vol. 27 No. 12 Implementing Diversity: Implications for Your Strategic Management Evaluation
I&P Vol. 26 No. 6 Sexual Orientation, Harassment, and Victimization: Establish a Safe Environment

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