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Effective equality and diversity training programmes


Like many public sector organisations it is a requirement that my 2010-11 learning and organisational development plan includes a thread on equality and diversity training. However, over the years I have found that it generally doesnt work (regardless of the organisation that I am in) for a number of reasons. Chief among the reasons being that if you make it an open programme the only people who attend are those that are interested (and therefore not the ones you want to impact) or people are forced to go because of various issues and then dont really want to be there so switch off.


How do you create a multi strand equality and diversity programme covering all the necessary areas BUT make it work with people who dont really want it?

6 Responses

  1. TNA?

    Hi Craig

    I don’t know whether this thought is going to be helpful but…….

    Any training that is delivered within any organisations should be delivered because there is a geneuine need for that training (I’m using the word "training" in its widest sense; courses, workshops, e-learning etc).

    Your plan has a "requirement" for E&D training; is this because people have been assessed and a genuine change of behaviour defined as necessary, or is it to comply with a "law" to deliver a certain amount of E&D training or a desire to "show" equality and diversity commitment by spending money on it?

    The reality is that E&D (IMHO) is seldom a subject that should stand alone, for precisely the reasons you mention; let’s face it, to have an E&D requirement on your personal development plan is the same to many people as an accusation of bigotry, and no one accepts that happily.

    I believe that E&D should be woven in to other subjects as a foundation element; you can’t deliver good customer service to a diverse customer base if you have inappropriate views and behaviours.  You can’t manage a diverse team if you believe that certain team members are less capable by virtue of their colour, race, gender etc.  

    I recently delivered a three day Customer Service workshop for the Public Sector where we took about half of day one to look at values and beliefs, prejudices and discrimination and E&D law in the UK, we then went on to the more traditional customer service behaviours and actions.  It was very successful (at least at a level one level) and all the delegates declared that they had enjoyed, learned and changed attitudes.

    The downside of this is that it is more difficult to "track" the organisation’s financial/time commitment to E&D; if the organisation can say "We invested £X,000 last year in E&D courses" or "All our staff attended a three day workshop on E&D" it ticks boxes more easily than "All our courses have an E&D element woven into them." It also means that every course will have an element of repetition/revision which takes time and we are often under pressure to reduce time commitments. 



  2. I agree with Rus

    Hi Craig

    I absolutely agree with Rus. Unless there is a specific, identified need, just running an E&D programme would probably not achieve much – although, as Rus says, you can document it and tick boxes.

    Much better to include the topic in the other courses you run. Another couple of examples from my own experience: in assertiveness it is important to discuss cultural difference to do with eye contact and to take account of personality traits that will make it more challenging for some participants to practise the techniques. Time management course content should include hints and tips for people with alternative working patterns. In a train the trainer course it is useful to remind particpants of being aware of their learners’ personal space and to remember that some women may feel uncomfortable being alone in a room with a male trainer and vice versa.

    With a bit of ‘out of the box’ thinking you will find it relatively straightforward to bring the topic into your other programmes.

    Hope this helps.


  3. I agree with both of you

    Weaving E+D where appropriate through all the programmes I run is a basic requirement and have been doing that for years. The problem with the public sector is the one Rus mentions of box ticking and "being seen to do something". An example of this was our staff survey showing a high perception of bullying so the response from the management team was….

    put on a training course so people can identify what bullying is and what they should do about it.

    They wouldnt listen to anything else and lets face it if you were a bully would you go on such an event and then dramatically change? no not in a second.

    so, aside from weaving learning through other events how do you create a programme that impacts on those that really need it and makes them change?

  4. in answer to your last paragraph…..

    The Training Department, though capable of achieving the impossible most of the time, is not, in reality armed with a guaranteed-first-hit-hunting-rifle loaded with magic silver bullets……

    If the organisation contains bigots (of any form) or bullies or people who are unwilling to perform well then the Training Department alone cannot change them; managers must manage them. 

    Far too often the "solution" to a performance issue that is more to do with "will" than "skill" is shoved at the Training Department to fix, but the solution is actually in the management, not the knowledge and skill of the person; ie a manager must manage the person, not send them for retraining.

    Sorry that doesn’t help but if you try to change someone for a manager you allow the manager to fail at their job, you won’t change the person who the manager wants to change and you will damage your own credibility for trying.  You will tick a box….but you won’t be likely to succeed.




    We are fortunate to have of the UK’s top experts in equality laws,diversity issues and cultural awareness. He is away this week but if you drop me a line at – I will ask him to let you have his excellent ideas and techniques not just for delivery but the after care and the after measurement too








    — QED Training


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