Diversity training is a fundamental component of a diversity initiative and represents the opportunity for school districts to inform and educate administrators and teachers about diversity. The purpose of training is not only to increase awareness of workplace diversity, but also to develop and enhance skills among employees to help them communicate more profoundly in the future. Differences in race, sexual orientation, education and work experience can cause tremendous damage. Although diversity training cannot all together change individuals’ beliefs, it has the ability to increase awareness, impart knowledge and educate employees further on how to accept differences among fellow employees. The main goal of a successful diversity training program is to create a positive work environment by helping employees recognize and be tolerant of differences among co-workers.
When a proper diversity training program is initiated within a school district, several benefits often emerge for the organization and its employees. First, successful diversity programs help administrators delegate job assignments to subordinates and saves time in properly evaluating employees. Consequently, employees become more active in brainstorming and participating in projects, allowing for better teaching to occur. Secondly, diversity training benefits employees by increasing their motivation in regard to their work assignments. Diversity initiatives enacted by the organization help to optimize the money spent on employee salaries, benefits, recruitment and training. When diversity training is successful, employee commitment and motivation rises, which translates into fewer resources being spent on grievances and employee turnover.
Diversity training programs often fail for several reasons. First, diversity programs fail because diversity programs are viewed as the latest human resource fad or because an outside agency recommends that they implement a diversity program. In fact, the majority of programs will eventually fail unless the impetus to create a diversity program comes from inside, rather than from external parties. Secondly, many school districts fail to implement diversity programs that are custom made for their needs. For the most part school districts will choose an off the shelf generic program not tailored to their organizational structure or corporate culture. In addition, buy-in from employees will fail to take place unless an internal consultant who is familiar with the organization initially implements the program. When employees feel the material is not relevant to their job, many employees will simply see the training program as a waste of time. Finally, diversity programs fall short when organizations simple provide training, but fail to provide the resources needed to implement changes. For diversity training programs to be more successful in the future, an action plan needs to be formulated instead of just a scattershot approach to diversity training.
There are several factors crucial for a diversity training program to succeed in the twenty-first century. First, the most important factor deals with obtaining top-level leadership support from the organization. For a diversity program to succeed, it requires the enthusiastic support and involvement of the superintendent and top administrators, who must clearly enunciate the importance of diversity as a business value and goal. The diversity program needs to be tied in directly with the mission and objectives of the school district. If the training program fails to stay in line with the important values of the organization, employees will lose interest and become non-responsive to changing their behavior following training. Finally, the organization needs to research and conduct an adequate needs assessment to insure the training material coincides with current diversity issues within the organization. Failure to keep abreast of the major diversity issues in the organization will cause employees to lose faith in the overall purpose of the diversity training program. Taking the time to appreciate the diversity of each employee in an organization will help produce a confident and committed workforce.