The Ugly Truth About Corporate DEI Workshops
January 3, 2024
The Ugly Truth About Corporate DEI Workshops
January 3, 2024
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) workshops have become commonplace in corporate settings, aiming to foster a more inclusive and harmonious workplace. While the intentions behind these workshops are commendable and necessary, imagine for a second that you are part of a company… where the idea of getting ready for work makes you groan. Maybe there’s an individual who is also part of the team who doesn’t value your contribution as a human being. Let’s go one step further… what if that individual disregards who you are? What is that individual, or, even worse, these individuals are racist? Sexist? Agist? You fill in the blank. What if their belief system is very different than yours, and there is no bridging the Gap? Well, that’s a big problem. Memories of being bullied in Middle School come to mind, And now let’s compound all of that because you need your work. You need to be able to provide for yourself and your family.
So, what do you think you could do? Do you go to HR? What if the individual is your boss?
What if hiring a company to come in and do a DEI Workshop is the solution? Let’s take a look at what can be done here. When dealing with people’s mindsets, tact is crucial. The worst thing anybody can do regarding DEI training is hire facilitators coming in with a chip on our shoulders. You can’t, nor should you ever, come into a company to cancel people’s points of view, no matter how marginalized you have always been! Here, it simply does not work. Don’t try it. Believe it or not, I’ve seen this happen on multiple occasions!!! Essentially, it tells participants that what they think and feel is broken! Please don’t do it!
The solution is being willing to be honest, truthful, and, most importantly, human while building and strengthening the community!
In this blog post, we’ll unravel why DEI workshops often miss the mark on community-building activities, shed light on the challenges, and suggest ways to bridge the gap.
The DEI Workshop Conundrum
Diversity training has been a staple in corporate agendas for years, with organizations investing significant resources in workshops and seminars. However, genuine community building often needs to be discovered despite these efforts. The disconnect lies in various factors contributing to the ineffectiveness of DEI workshops.
Tokenism and Check-the-Box Mentality, One of the primary pitfalls, is the tendency towards tokenism, where companies may focus on surface-level diversity without addressing underlying systemic issues. When DEI initiatives are viewed merely as checkboxes to be ticked, the authenticity required for genuine community building is compromised.
The Missing Ingredient: Community Building Activities
The keyword here is community-building activities, which should be addressed in DEI workshops. For these initiatives to succeed, they must go beyond lectures and discussions, actively engaging participants in activities that foster a sense of belonging and collaboration. If the ultimate goal is for individuals to work well together, allow them to do just that. Work well together! Don’t lecture; please refrain from showing a PowerPoint or diving too deep into history. Engagement is at the forefront of practical workshops. It keeps people interested and hopefully sparks some new alternative thinking!
Why Community Building Activities Matter
Community-building activities are the backbone of very successful DEI efforts. They provide a platform for individuals to connect authentically, fostering a supportive environment where differences are celebrated rather than tolerated. Incorporating these activities into DEI workshops can transform the experience from a passive lecture to an interactive and engaging journey; as storytellers and theater makers at Live in Theater, we go one step further and make it fun! Yes, I know CRAZY! It’s a well-known document that shows that people in the collaborative spirit of play and creative flow bond on a deeper level!
Breaking Down the Barriers: A Closer Look
1. Lack of Personal Connection
Traditional DEI workshops often focus on statistical data and theoretical concepts, leaving little room for personal connections. Community-building activities bridge this gap by creating opportunities for individuals to share their experiences, fostering empathy and understanding.
2. Ineffective Communication Channels
Communication is a two-way street, and many DEI workshops need help to create an open dialogue. Community building activities, such as small-group discussions or collaborative projects, encourage participants to communicate authentically, breaking down communication barriers and building trust.
3. In the absence of Teamwork Dynamics
DEI workshops often operate individually, neglecting the crucial aspect of teamwork. Community-building activities that require collaboration can break down silos within the organization, promoting a sense of unity and shared purpose.
Overcoming the DEI Workshop Dilemma: A Way Forward
- Interactive Workshops:
- Transform DEI workshops into interactive, role-playing, group activities, and storytelling sessions. These methods allow participants to engage actively and share their unique perspectives.
- Cultivate Inclusive Spaces:
- Design community-building activities that specifically address inclusivity. This could include team-building exercises that highlight the strengths of diverse teams, fostering a sense of unity through shared accomplishments.
- Play theater games that, in their very essence, are not about just playing but teaching how to become a team.
- Ongoing Engagement:
- Community building is a continuing process, not a one-time event. Establish a framework for continuous engagement, incorporating regular activities that reinforce the principles learned in DEI workshops.
- Leadership Involvement:
- Leadership sets the tone for the organization’s culture. Ensure that leaders actively participate in community-building activities and showcase a commitment to DEI principles, reinforcing the importance of these initiatives.
- Measurable Goals:
- Set clear and measurable goals for DEI initiatives, including community-building activities. Regularly assess progress and adjust strategies based on feedback and outcomes.
Rethinking DEI Workshops for Lasting Impact
In the quest for a genuinely inclusive workplace, it’s crucial to recognize the limitations of traditional DEI workshops and embrace a more holistic approach. By integrating community-building activities, organizations can create environments where diversity is acknowledged and celebrated, fostering a sense of belonging and collaboration. As we navigate the complex landscape of workplace diversity, remember that actual community building goes beyond checkboxes—creating spaces where every individual feels seen, heard, and valued. We find the most effective way to do this is by asking people if they feel seen. Do they feel heard? Do they feel valued?
The challenging part of asking these questions is being comfortable with the individual responding that they do not feel seen, heard, or valued. It’s not about solving the problem. It’s about starting the discussion and seeing how things can improve by bringing people together and learning to collaborate! COURAGE!