Last week changes to The Equality Act came into force, offering employees additional protection in the workplace, which if breached could result in a six month prison sentence and / or fines, or damages. Off the back of legal amendments such as this, do scare tactics force us to rush into panic buying without properly analysing the need for training?

in Donald Clark's recent blog post, a diversity study by Alexandra Kalev from the University of Arizona (which looks at 31 years of data from 830 companies!), actually shows a trend towards less diverse senior management teams after employees have received equality and diversity training

So why is this type of training having a negative effect?

Well in many cases the immediate "need" and panic for compliance training often means that there is a short amount of time to produce a substantial business case and therefore the TNA is replaced with a simple "because we have to" answer, and this just doesn't cut it.

It seems that along with the lack of business case, suppliers also have a part to play, offering equality and diversity training to supply the "just in time" market. But, it's in the supplier's interest to align the training to the needs of the business from the very beginning, in order to prove that their solutions work.

This is something we preach (and practice) across Brightwave, and we've recently launched a course 'Inclusion in the Workplace' endorsed by UK Council for Access and Equality. The course, available as stand-alone, forms step 2 of a 3 step pathway which not only informs, but assesses, improves and measures change to procedures and practices, therefore, implementing real, measurable change in the workplace.

I'd be interested to hear what metrics you all use to measure the effectiveness of equality and diversity programmes. Do you focus on a reduction in breaches? Or do you monitor inclusiveness in the business?

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Training Zone have just compiled a top 10 lis of UK employment law changes, which you may also find helpful.

Hi Samantha

 

A subject dear to my heart! I'm personally passionate about diversity and equality, and used to train this stuff a lot about 10 years ago. Why doesn't it work? OK, here's my opinion:

You cant change ingrained attitudes in a day, or by telling people about the legislation. Lets face it, people go to therapy for years to try and change the way they think and behave when they actually want to change - when they either dont recognise that their thinking or behaviour needs to change, a day long programme (or less) is not going to have any impact. The best and most realistic approach for diversity training then is to clearly lay out for participants what their organisation expects of them (e.g respectful language, reasonable support for flexible working patterns), what the monitoring for the organisation shows and any action plans / strategies there are. My own long experience also shows that when senior managers are a diverse bunch, then it sends out a powerful message to all staff that they too can get on in this organisation. When all your senior managers are the same, if you dont look/sound/behave like them, you may be less confident about your talents being recognised here.

 

Finally - please please dont get successful white senior men to mentor others further down the food chain! This is patronising and doesn't help make a workplace diverse - it just means everyone behaves in the same ways as the senior white men. A pioneering project was done about 8 years ago in housing by Dr Nazir Khanum, where she got BME mentors for senior white men. The results were remarkable - recruitment and promotions patterns in many of the organisations changed after only a year.

 

How do you measure effetciveness? Staff surveys, HR data relating to grievances that might have a basis in a diversity related theme, monitoring data in relation to demographic of workforce. Stonewall do an survey too and Ernst and Young are pathfinders in this area (and no, I dont work for them!). The top tip - a CEO who is sincere and authentic and champions diversity and doesn't see it as an add on or a distraction.

 

Happy to discuss more, and hear others views.

"Finally - please please don't get successful white senior men to mentor others further down the food chain! This is patronising and doesn't help make a workplace diverse"

 

I suppose this says it all for me. I feel patronised by being classed as a 'white senior man' and have felt patronised in the several diversity courses I've been forced to attend, run by trainers who value diversity but feel free to patronise me at the same time.

 

I think the problem may be a 'diversity' training industry that has been allowed to mushroom without any checks and balances, certainly little in the way of evaluation. Whenever a major evaluation is conducted (Dobbin, Kochan and Kalev) it produces the same result - training makes no difference, in some cases a backlash. The focus on strand diversity, a narrow-mined version of diverity stuck in the 70s and 80s, has also been a problem - social class, for example, is almost never tackled as an issue.

Imagine, for a moment, me accusing you of being incapable of delivering diversity training because you're a middle-class, white, patronising woman!

 

 

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