Diversity Training in the workplace has been a particularly popular topic over the past few months, but the history of Diversity Training spans back over many decades. Diversity Training started being offered as a result of the reaction to the Civil Rights movement and the demonstrations by activists that subsequently ensued. On July 2, 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. It was a landmark civil rights and labor law that made it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.[i]
Leading up to and following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, diversity proponents believed that social change was needed to achieve a more stable society. They pushed for the education, primarily focused on training to increase sensitivity towards and awareness of racial differences.[ii] Today, the fundamental values of Diversity Training are very much the same as they were back then. Presently, Diversity Training incorporates solutions designed to increase diversity awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills.
Today, over a half a century following the passage of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination and bias based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion, unfortunately, still exist in the workplace. Whether the bias is explicit or unconscious, the need for Diversity Training still exists in workplaces across the United States. Alain Dehaze, CEO of The Adecco Group, once said, “Diversity requires commitment. Achieving the superior performance that diversity can produce needs further action – most notably, a commitment to develop a culture of inclusion. People do not just need to be different, they need to be fully involved and feel their voices are heard.”[iii]
Benefits of Diversity Training in the Workplace
There are tremendous benefits to Diversity Training in the workplace. Diversity Training has proven to motivate employees, inspire innovation, and drive revenue. Where it was once, and, unfortunately, still may be within some organizations, treated as an HR humdrum topic to glide over. Diversity Training is proving to be exponentially advantageous in the workplace and, ultimately, for the organization.
Motivate Employees – Diversity Training is the first effective step towards building a more inclusive environment where diverse employees interact better with each other.[iv] When employees interact better, they are better equipped to work together as a team. Research indicates that diverse and inclusive teams outperform their peers. Companies with inclusive talent practices in hiring, promotion, development, leadership, and team management generate up to 30% higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors.[v]
Inspire Innovation – When combining different thought processes with different capacities for problem solving, there is increased opportunity for great ideas and outcomes. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, once said, “Endless data shows that diverse teams make better decisions. We are building products that people with very diverse backgrounds use, and I think we all want our company makeup to reflect the makeup of the people who use our products. That’s not true of any industry really, and we have a long way to go.”[vi] Managers and team members can benefit by listening to people who think differently, because they often bring some of the team’s most innovative ideas.
Drive Revenue – In a study published in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, Gallup found that more diverse workgroups and engaged workgroups had higher profits. But it’s not simply about higher profits – they discovered that when organizations were focused on both Diversity and Engagement together, their financial performance increased.[vii] We know that employee engagement is essential to an organization’s success, but now we know that diverse and engaged workgroups together have profound effects on an organization.
Diversity Training continues to be of substantial value for organizations. For more information on how you can incorporate Diversity Training in your organization, visit our Diversity and Inclusion Training page.
[i] “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination: Questions And Answers, www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm
[ii] Diversity Officer Magazine. “HISTORY OF DIVERSITY TRAINING & ITS PIONEERS.” Diversity Officer Magazine, diversityofficermagazine.com/diversity-inclusion/the-history-of-diversity-training-its-pioneers/
[iii] “Alain Dehaze Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/alain_dehaze_885651?src=t_diversity
[iv] “Does Diversity Training Work? Time for an Evidence-Based Answer • ScienceForWork.” ScienceForWork, 21 Feb. 2018, scienceforwork.com/blog/diversity-training-effectiveness/
[v] “Diversity and Inclusion: The Reality Gap.” Deloitte United States, www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/human-capital-trends/2017/diversity-and-inclusion-at-the-workplace.html
[vi] “Sheryl Sandberg Quote.” A-Z Quotes, www.azquotes.com/quote/869918
[vii] Gallup, Inc. “Using Employee Engagement to Build a Diverse Workforce.” Gallup.com, 21 Mar. 2016, news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/190103/using-employee-engagement-build-diverse-workforce.aspx