I am on a mission. A mission to end bullying and harassment by teaching people science based approaches to stop bullying behavior. This ties into diversity and inclusion initiatives because one of the many variables that impact successful inclusion programs is the fact that when people who have traditionally been marginalized are finally included, they are often harassed by people who don't want them there. It's time we fix that.
First, let's talk about what's not working.
1) Harassment training programs don't work. Why? Because they are based on a really bad assumption. That assumption is: if we just tell bullies to stop, they will. They won't.
2) Bias elimination trainings don't work. Why? While they do a good job of raising awareness of biases, but they don't actually teach people how to overcome their own biases let alone what to do if they encounter someone with really toxic biases.
3) Diversity & Inclusion trainings don't work. Why? Same reason the harassment trainings don't work. Just explaining to people that exclusion to the victims, won't change anyone's behavior. It may raise awareness, but that's about it. Asking people who are horrible to be less horrible, isn't going to get them to change.
4) Certain sorts of training are actually pretty toxic. I'm specific specifically about critical race theory training. First, disclaimer, I love critical race theory. I think it's an excellent lens through which to understand historical problems and to understand the systemic nature of those problems and to understand what ALL needs to be fixed - and there is a lot that needs to be fixed. My son is a budding historian and he will tell you, if you don't understand everyone's perspective of what happened, you don't understand what happened. That being said, if my goal was to create a diverse yet cohesive work group, I would not give them a critical race theory training. Why? Because it would be counter productive.
We need to acknowledge that certain individuals are really really really hostile to inclusion. Hopefully, no one on your team is, but until you push them to change, you won't really know. While the critical race theory trainings are excellent at pushing people's buttons, that isn't necessarily a good way to create cohesion and inclusion.
Step back and think about what you really want to accomplish
The best way to create a training program that will work is to think about what you REALLY want to change. What skills do you want people to learn. Raising awareness is great - but it's not positive pro-social skill.
It's also helpful to think about what your staff really want to learn.
If we want to create diverse yet cohesive work groups, we need to teach well meaning people how to get along with people different from them. We also need to teach well meaning people how to shut down bullies and others who are anti-inclusion. In other words, how do we make sure that our attempts at inclusion aren't sabotaged by bad actors within our organization.
Let's change our training assumptions
It's time we jettison training programs that don't work and the assumptions that are behind those training programs. Let's start teaching people what they really want to learn, which is how to stop bullying and harassment and how to be pro-active in creating diverse yet cohesive workgroups.