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Taking DEI to the Next Level of the Journey

Use It or Lose It

Daryl Dixon

Recently, there have been several articles published proclaiming that DEI training is not effective and doesn’t make a difference in the workplace. Some articles even state that diversity training can backfire, eliciting defensiveness from the very people who might benefit most. And even when the training is beneficial, the effects may not last after the training ends. Unfortunately, these articles only tell part of the story. I agree that DEI training can be very ineffective if it’s not done in the proper context.

If DEI had the ability to take on human form and speak, I believe it would quote the words of Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately?”

In my 20+ years of working in the DEI space I have seen a pattern repeat itself over and over in many organizations, causing DEI training to be ineffective. It’s not an exact pattern, but it tends to look something like this:

There is a catalyst or event that makes an organization feel that it needs to do something to address diversity in the organization.

There is a decision that the organization needs training.

The organization brings in a trainer to facilitate diversity training.

All staff goes through the training.

There is a new awareness and understanding of diversity and some staff are motivated to do more with DEI.

Some organizations form a committee to help DEI work move forward.

The committee meets and there is excitement about starting the committee, but there really isn’t clarity on what the committee is supposed to do and how to do it.

Frustration begins to set in among committee members.

Attendance at the committee meetings begins to wane.

Leadership says, “we tried” but it just didn’t work.

Apathy begins to set in among the committee members that remain, and the committee becomes dormant.

I have seen this pattern happen more times than I care to remember. Why does this happen? It happens because many organizations don’t take the necessary next steps to take their DEI work to the next level. They take the first step to provide training, and that is absolutely necessary. However, they expect the initial training to do something it wasn’t designed to do. Expectations are rather unrealistic.

Through many years of working with organizations, both large and small, in many different industries, I have found the pattern that takes your DEI work to the next level:

Assessment of the organization’s level of maturity in diversity and inclusion.

Assessment of staff members in their DEI beliefs and interpersonal skills.

A series of DEI trainings to build will, awareness and knowledge.

A series of DEI trainings to develop skills to apply the new knowledge learned in the first series.

Leadership begins to use their new knowledge of DEI to address the organization’s 3 P’s (policy, practice, and procedure).

Staff members utilize their DEI assessment feedback to develop their individual professional DEI development plan.

Continuous assessment and monitoring.

DEI training is just like anything else – use it or lose it. Many of you have invested in DEI training. Don’t lose momentum.

Click here for more information about the author.

Originally posted on the Cascade Employers Association Blog. February 19, 2024
Daryl DixonA native of Atlanta Georgia, Daryl began his professional career as a classical singer. His musical talents have taken him to concerts stages in Europe and throughout the United States, including a performance in the White House. Daryl made history when he became the first African American to sing Spirituals in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City for Pope John Paul II. Turning down an opportunity to tour with Harry Belafonte, Daryl followed a new passion that lead to the work he does today.

Daryl is regarded as one of the most powerful, inspirational and relevant speakers and trainers on the subject of workforce diversity. Daryl is the founder of Diversity Resource Group (DRG), and the Professional Diversity Practitioners Network. Daryl works with organizations to help create an optimal work environment – an environment where every employee feels recognized, appreciated, valued and that his/her talents are being optimally utilized. Daryl has consulted with organizations that range from small non-profits to Fortune 500. Daryl received certification as an EEO Investigator from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

An award-winning diversity practitioner, Daryl has presented at numerous diversity conferences, including the national SHRM Diversity Conference. Daryl was cited in HR Magazine for his expertise in the area of workforce diversity. Daryl served as an EEO Officer in the US Army, the Director of Multicultural Services at George Fox University and the Chief Diversity Officer of Multnomah County, the second most populous county in the Northwest. Daryl currently serves as the Director of Equity and Inclusion at Cascade Employers located in Salem, OR. Daryl earned his BA degree from Morehouse College and Master of Divinity degree from George Fox University.

In March of 2020 Daryl published his first book: Managing Diversity: What Managers & Supervisors Need to Know to Manage Diversity Effectively.

Learn more about Daryl here:

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