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WHY DO DIVERSITY PROGRAMS FAIL?

6 KEY REASONS TO NOTE

Studies reveal that people prefer opportunities to work for or deal with organizations that make efforts at promoting diversity, equality, and inclusivity.

Based on the above and following the fact that the world has tilted towards becoming a global village, business organizations around the world are seeking ways to incorporate diversity in their businesses. The motivating factor is basically the benefits attached to creating a diverse environment, in addition to the fear of crippling lawsuits by employees.

Diversity programs are often aimed at attracting and maintaining a talented workforce with a wide array of different perspectives, life experiences, and backgrounds. This in turn creates space for innovative thinking and a broader range of ideas that promotes the growth of the company.

However, despite the above lofty intentions behind the creation of diversity programs, a Harvard Business Review research reveals that most organizations do not seem to be getting the desired results, seeing that women and minorities have not gained much ground in management over the past 20 years. A lot of companies are still faced with the challenge of having diversity programs that are ineffective and do not achieve the desired results. Some of the diversity training programs often result in mere lip service and a mere poster show off of an attempt at achieving diversity. This is described to lead to a sort of ‘diversity fatigue’

What are the factors that cause diversity fatigue or failure of diversity training programs? The following are 6 reasons mostly identified by organizations as the culprits.

1. Resistance 

On a general note, resistance is one of the reasons why DEI programs fail. The resistance is mostly premised on the compulsory nature of the training programs. A Harvard Business Review reports that participants often respond to compulsory training courses with anger and resistance. Following which, many participants actually report more animosity toward other groups after the training program.

However, on the other hand, where diversity programs are made voluntary, it triggers a better response and outcome that comes from an attitude that is predicated on the thinking by employees that they chose to show up voluntarily and as such they must show afterwards that they are pro-diversity.

2. Inconsistency of the programs

DEI programs may also fail where the efforts at educating the participant is halfhearted and not done consistently. This is especially where a DEI training program is only organized as a reaction to a breach of the organization’s DEI rules. 

In cases where the training programs are held only after hiring a new employee(s) or after sealing a new business deal, the entire effect may be lost. Though there is no one size fits all requirements on the number of times DEI training programs may be held, it however needs to be regular so that it can be effective.

3. Apprehension associated with the ‘diversity’ label

Participants at diversity trainings are said to feel some uneasiness around the diversity topic. This results in their not responding to the diversity training with the needed zeal and focus on changing the narratives.

A study revealed that high-status groups may perceive pro-diversity messages from organizations as threatening to their group's status. This may account for the uneasiness around the diversity label and the resistance towards it.

It may help if a different and creative label is used in describing DEI programs to reduce the angst and anxiety associated with the diversity word. 

4. Absence of vision

A lot of organizations in starting off their DEI compliance journey just go ahead and hire some persons from the underrepresented job candidates. They do this so that they can be visibly seen to be diverse in their business approach. This is usually a counterproductive approach as more often than not the said employees or hired hands leave sooner than later because they find it difficult to cope with the unconscious bias and prejudice that the organization is yet to address.

So, organizations must adopt a strategic approach to DEI by planning to have diversity programs that align with its business strategy. The program should also be focused on a behavioral change. The organization also needs to put in place a key performance indicator to measure the progress and success of its diversity programs.

5. Lack of commitment from organization’s leadership

This is one of the common challenges responsible for the failure of diversity programs. This is because an organization’s leadership sets the tone for the success of any program that it takes onboard. If the organization’s DEI efforts are seen only through attempts at communication, presentations, etc, and the leadership does not show authenticity, commitment and sincerity, then this will reflects on the employees’ attitude to the program. So, an organization’s leadership need to show that they fully buy into the diversity programs it offers and also committed to its success.

6. Inappropriate implementation of programs

Achieving an effective DEI program requires more than merely hosting events and organizing workshops. There is a need to think through a strategic approach that suits the peculiarity of the organization. Programs that merely assign roles of villains and victim do not result in the required attitudinal change. Introducing a mentorship program has been proven to be effective in changing the narrative of bias and prejudice.

It is worth noting that, it is established that training workshops, recruitment initiatives, and diversity task forces may not in all cases be effective in ensuring a fail-proof DEI program. Organizations should therefore explore solutions that seek to tackle the challenges head on, such as, increasing contact with underrepresented persons, promoting social accountability, etc. 

Learn more about Thinkzilla’s high-impact DEI Programs. Schedule your consult today by calling 888-509-1145 

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