How to Ensure Your Diversity & Sensitivity Training Doesn’t Backfire

According to recent research conducted by Harvard University, training is likely to fail (or even backfire) when it “relies too much on legalese or paints attendees as the ‘bad guys'”. CNN Money adds that the study found that those who attended training events solely focused on limiting liability reported feelings of defensiveness, frustration, and even anger in post-session interviews.

CNN Money further reports that “training that instead casts attendees in a positive light, showing them the things they can do to prevent harassment, is often more effective”. Focus on bystander intervention training is cited as a key tool in empowering employees to feel like they are “breaking the cycle” to stop inappropriate and damaging behaviors within their own workplace.

CNN Money interviewed Frank Dobbin, a professor of sociology at Harvard, who said:

“When you interview people who have gone through regular diversity training — white men who are making most of the hiring decisions because they occupy most management jobs — they often come away angry, feeling like they’ve been blamed for something that isn’t their fault, very defensive about being sexist and racist,'” Dobbin says.

OperationsInc includes bystander intervention training in all Anti-Harassment and Diversity & Sensitivity training sessions, and recommends providing training that is interactive and geared towards changing employee attitudes and behaviors, versus only limiting employer liability.

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