Education For Diversity - What Should We Have in Our Programs?

by:  Ken Long

So, you're a new manager at a new job and you've determined that to improve your organization's performance, you need to conduct training and education on diversity for your people. They seem genuinely interested in supporting the new program and are looking forward to training. So what exactly is it that you should train them on? What kinds of qualities are we looking for in a diverse workforce? What are the individual characteristics that make a worker competent culturally?

Here is a good set of goals and characteristics that you should be aiming for. As the manager, you should share this vision with your workforce so they can see the successful end state that we are all aiming for. By promoting these values and providing training on these skills, you have an excellent chance of creating a truly diverse workforce that will add productivity to your bottom line as well as doing the right thing for the right reasons.

Interculturally competent people have the following competencies:

Tolerance of differences: this is the same thing as the ability to see the value in alternatives.

Tolerance of ambiguity: the ability to postpone judgment until a later date when more facts and insights are available. This is not only a good skill for interpersonal relations but also for complex uncertain business environments as well.

Open-mindedness towards new ideas and different points of view.

Positive attitudes towards experiences and people. Since we are a species of storytellers, it is often in social settings where we make small talk and exchange life stories that the appreciation for diverse points of view and other cultural groups is established.

Patience and personal self-awareness: the ability to reflect on your own inner processes in the moment can help us find potential problem areas before they spin out of control.

Flexibility of behavior: the willingness to try new forms of behavior, which can be trained through role-playing and controlled environmental experiments, helps us appreciate the perspectives of others. This may be the most powerful educational tool of all.

Empathy: the ability to imagine yourself in another's position and connect with their feelings.

Interpersonal sensitivity: looking for emotional cues and others.

Good communication skills, such as active listening and a willingness to share your inner feelings.

The ability to connect with others in a variety of social settings or simply in passing in between meetings.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, but there are some common best practices that can lead you well down the path towards a successful diversity education program in your organization. You'll be glad you started the journey because you're organizational performance will improve, morale will get better, your people will think you and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did the right thing.

Ken Long, Chief of Research, Tortoise Capital Management.
Adding value through independent research, combining technical analysis and human behavioral psychology

Article Source: EzineArticles

Feb 6