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Diversity training can be defined as any program designed to facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and generally teach individuals who are different from others how to work together effectively. Diversity training is instruction aimed at helping participants to gain cultural awareness in order to benefit the organization or company. Diversity training is the reality that is facing many human resource management teams – one of the pressing reasons is the growing ethnic and racial diversity in the workplace. While major corporations believe that diversity training and active diversity hiring will assist them in remaining competitive in a global economy, other large organizations (universities and colleges) have been slow to embrace diversity training.
Trainers use diversity training as a means to meet many objectives, such as attracting and retaining customers and productive workers; maintaining high employee morale; and/or fostering understanding and harmony between workers. However, a systematic analysis has shown the diversity training is usually counterproductive.
Diversity training has been a controversial issue, raising questions about moral considerations and counter-productivity. Observers characterize diversity training in very different ways. Its proponents consider it morally right, because it respects diversity, recognizing the value and contributions of every human being. They also view it as economically sound, because it enables organizations to draw on multiplicities of talents and strengths. According to Hans Bader, its opponents consider it an oppressive ideology and reeducation tactic that actually reduces the ability of organizations to attain their goals. It has been suggested that diversity training reinforces differences between individuals instead of fostering their commonalities, thus helping to further racialize the workplace, creating situations where people "tiptoe" around issues such as how to relate to people of different cultures as opposed to people learning to communicate with and truly understand each other. Programs which established specific responsibility for diversity, such as equal opportunity staff positions or diversity task forces, have proven most effective in general. However, the results also indicate that White females benefit significantly more from diversity training. The benefits for African American females and males were appreciably lower than European American females. Networking and mentoring, which were considered bias mitigating approaches, served African American females the most. African American males were the least likely to benefit from any of the methods. Sue Steiner and collaborators have advocated that controversy be used as a cooperative learning style. They argue that attempting to see both sides of a controversial issue builds empathy and allows working environments to function better.
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