The Irony of Diversity & Inclusion Workshops

I was recently invited to run a workshop on Diversity & Inclusion.
I was surprised by the feedback.

The feedback emphasized how much people appreciated feeling safe enough to vulnerably express themselves.

I believe Diversity & Inclusion is about empathy.
If a workshop is run with empathy,
safety is a natural byproduct.
I took that for granted.

I’ve since learned that many Diversity & Inclusion workshops don’t make people feel safe.
In fact, it shames people for “lacking empathy,”
then tries to force them to “fix” their unconscious biases.

That shocked me.

Thanks to Craig Cmehill for recommending me to run this workshop.
Thanks to Janice Levenhagen-Seeley for inviting me.
This experience has opened my eyes in ways I didn’t expect.

When Diversity & Inclusion Programs Don’t Work

Most diversity and inclusion programs are primarily concerned with biases. They attempt to change someone’s behavior by telling them they’re biased. This could be effective if people were merely unaware of their biases.

In all other cases, it’s important to recognize that biases may also be either directly or indirectly fulfilling a basic human need. If letting go of a bias means depriving ourselves of our needs, we’ll experience tension. Now it’s no longer just a matter of awareness. It’s also a matter of fulfilling our needs and relieving our tension. That’s much harder.

If we’re serious about diversity and inclusion, we have to also help people discover or create an alternative way of fulfilling their needs.