What is diversity training, exercises, activities and programs in the workplace?

To become affluent in any skill or sport you need to practice. Practice requires training and exercises packaged into a program that you can follow. The more you carry on with the program, the better you will become at that skill or sport. The same holds true for cultural diversity. In order to succeed in having a culturally diverse society you need to do some diversity training by performing diversity training exercises and diversity training activities packaged into diversity training programs. This training needs to span not just schools and malls, but we need to practice diversity training in the workplace. However, before you start training you need to be able to answer what is diversity training.

What is diversity training? Diversity training is training with the goals of increasing cultural awareness, skills, knowledge and changing biases to help expand and protect civil rights, being represented by all identity groups and having a better working, functional society or organization.

Diversity training programs are composed of diversity training exercises and diversity training activities. Cultural awareness does not just happen overnight. It requires a cognitive, structured, methodical training schedule which can take months, years or even decades according to the scope of the program. Diversity training is just that, it’s training. Some people train quicker than others. Some training programs are more effective than others. Many organizations have implemented diversity training in the workplace programs because they recognize the need for a more culturally diverse workforce, to protect against civil rights violations or to increase the quality of life for its employees.

Diversity training activities main goals is to make participants more aware of what they are not aware of. Understanding their current modes of thought, what is different amongst each other, what is the same amongst each other, how solutions for different problems can be solved many ways and thoughts and feelings of people as they go through these experiences.

One typical diversity training activity is to have your group members categorized into mandatory groups. Starting with low-risk groups and moving into more difficult minority type groups. Typical low-risk groups are people with brown-eyes, company titles such as analysts, people with more than 2 siblings, etc. Start changing group categories into people who are Asian, Sexual orientation or disabled. Ask everyone how they felt in the group, how they felt about people outside the group and inside the group. Ask people outside the group how they felt about being outside, the other people outside and the people in the group. Also ask people that did not go into any groups how they felt.

Another activity is to form two groups based on some uncontrollable characteristic such as hair or eye color or married/single. For a few hours supervisors are to favor one group while denying privileges and verbally demeaning the other. The goal is to show everyone that discrimination is usually based on arbitrary factors and to infuse empathy in the workplace.

Other diversity training exercises include the Horatio Alger Exercise in which the goal is to show how advantages and disadvantages in people’s lives affect opportunities and successes. Participants form a line and hold hands with the people beside them. Statements are asked and you move forward, backward or stay stationary according to the statement. Continue to hold hands until it is no longer possible. If one parent completed college, take one step forward. If one parent did not finish high school, take one step back. Anyone who went to private school, take one step forward. Anyone raised in a community where their ethnicity were not overly represented by police, government workers or politicians, take one step back, and so forth.

Another exercise deals with cultural IQ. Perform short IQ tests for mainstream US/Canada culture, Black-Rap, 60’s culture, as well as IQ tests for the various ethnic and races of the participants. The goal of this exercise is to show that intelligence is usually culturally bound and defined.

You can’t understand the answer to what is diversity training unless you can answer the question what is cultural diversity. Once you have an understand of a cultural diversity definition, you can answer what is diversity training and you can develop or implement diversity training programs which include diversity training exercises and diversity training activities. Having diversity training at home, school, in the community as well as diversity training in the workplace well help develop a culturally diverse society. A culturally diverse society will benefit from fewer biases, more skills, awareness, knowledge and make it easier to implement a more encompassing human rights charter for the workplace or society.