• Joy E. Mason

Does Diversity Training Alone Work?

Let's talk about potential DEI IMPROVEMENTS! It appears to be common for concerned, well-intentioned people to leap to conclusions and solutions before clearly understanding the problem, the data, and the analysis (the story the data tell).

A common approach to the poor retention of Black engineering technicians might be to:

-assume they voluntarily chose not to stay

-train everyone on implicit bias

A few thoughts:

-Voluntary departure may be a symptom,

-Implicit bias is tough to eradicate,

-Training may an easy way to avoid deeper, systemic issues, and

-Improvements should be based on root causes.

What root causes have you determined for poor retention of Black employees? Yes, implicit bias and institutional racism play a role, but so does a lack of mentoring, sponsorship, and development opportunities.

Consider the role of systems in addition to a manager's biases. According to the cognitive bias index, there are over 100 different biases. So, good luck trying to rid managers of the biases. We all have them. I suggest....build the bus (systems) for diversity, equity, and inclusion and tell managers that it's time to get on or off the bus for equity and inclusion. Explain calmly, clearly, and confidently that it's the moral thing to do and it's the right thing to do for business. Studies show that it's best to keep the message positive.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion should not be a scary ideal state, unless... there is something to be gained by being exclusionary?

For meaningful improvement – create a theory of change based on root causes, research, and potential interventions. Example: Seek executives who are opened to being trained on culture, systems change, anti-racism and allyship and connect them with a small group of Black STEM students at the local university for relationship-building and mentoring on campus. Research shows, these actions or inputs eventually influence retention. Do what works. Expect resistance though! I cover 10 types of resistance in my consulting services.

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