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Changes in Diversity Training


Why Diversity Training is "Not Working"

For too long, I have thought about what I have been seeing and experiencing in my "diversity training and consulting travels." I realized recently I am doing way too much "Rescue Diversity Training." That is, I am hired to come in and clean up and pick up where other diversity trainers started and failed. The organization, my client was polarized during and after the training and what I call unifying work (healing) is now called for and how to "restart" the training and other support initiatives is the next step.

I know this article will not help me win any popularity contests but nevertheless this conversation needs to be "jump started" in the diversity training industry. What follows are my observations on a trend in our field that needs "a little push." This is a revolution occurring in our field and sometimes revolutions need a spotlight, more attention.

My observations reflect the past, the present, and where I think we need to go as consultants, trainers, and employers who are engaged in the diversity training and inclusive workplace movement. If we don't stop and reflect on our lessons learned to date, "old school" diversity training will be perceived as another fad in the years to come. I believe the next generation of diversity training will "never go away."

Old School - Past Generation Training

New - Next Generation Training

Confrontational - "in your face"Non-confrontational
Expert trainer drives courseFacilitator leads and follows
Theory-based, academicPractical, "real world"
Negative examples or role playsPositive examples are used
Fuels backlashNo platform for backlash
Polarizes participantsUnifies participants
No pre-work or post-workMandatory pre-work and post-work
"Off the shelf" - one school"Customized" - eclectic
Very little diagnosis or needs analysisMandatory "up front work" and post work
"Hit or miss""Always on target"
"Blame and shame"Positive
"Live in the past""Look to the future"

"What next?"

Skill and Knowledge-based

"I know what to do"

Talks about rights and victimsTalks about shared responsibilities
Focuses on "others"Introspective
"Build the temple, they will come""They don’t worship in a temple!"
Ivory tower - externally drivenInternally driven (committee/council)
Diversity trainer is the saviorDiversity trainer is an advisor
Dependence on trainerClient-trainer partnership
Specific, targetedHolistic, organization-wide
"In a hurry""Cautious, take your time"
"Check the box"There is no box
Impact - program failsImpact - no longer a program
A way of looking at our business - poor business caseA way of doing business

- clear and compelling business case


I know I am going to "ruffle feathers" with this article. I believe we have to "push ourselves to the next level." We rarely stop and ask what "lessons we have learned." What is supporting the "old school"? Organizations are not thoroughly screening the diversity trainers or consultants they are hiring. Organizations are "too busy and in a hurry" and hire their external trainer/consultant based on a resume or brochure. Please visit my web page and look at my articles on how to "Hire A Diversity Trainer" and the "Top Ten Reasons Why Diversity Training Succeeds" and the "Top Ten Reasons Why They Fail." Other articles including checklists and best practices are also available for your review. My web page is Please visit, we have received more than 3 million hits in the last 18 months.

There is a way, a process, and an approach that ensures you do your training and "roll out" your inclusive workplace strategy properly and effectively. You can do it right the first time and save money and pain and anguish at the same time. The pain of not correcting our field will be greater than the pain of change. Change, please. I welcome your comments, reactions, etc.

Please contact me: Diversity Training Group

Tel. 703.478.9191
Fax 703.709.00591

Mauricio Velasquez
President, Diversity Training Group