From coast to coast and in every sector of American life, people are grappling with momentous issues of diversity and inclusion. Just this week, the Oscars were infused with issues of race, and transgender school students in South Dakota seeking appropriate bathroom facilities is top news. Diversity issues like immigration and voting trends along racial, ethnic, and religious lines are central factors in the presidential race. Police shootings, campus protests, Affirmative Action rulings and discourse over social media are compelling us to take a hard and sobering look at how far we are from fully including people from all backgrounds in the opportunities of society. The importance of diversity in business, the economy, and education is well established, but there is very clearly an urgent need for more effective responses.
In the professional workplace and academia, diversity training has been the mainstay. But both research studies and articles in the popular press tell us that, all too often, training doesn’t work. Whether true or not, the perceived failure of training has bred deep diversity resistance. We are sorely in need a more effective solution to exclusion.
Learning vs Training: Is there any difference?
Yes, there is definitely a difference. Training takes a top-down approach where the trainee is usually passive, but learning means gaining knowledge and developing personal skills from the bottom up. Here is a summary of the differences:
Why Does it Matter Now?
Training can raise diversity resistance and charges of political correctness. Learning facts and developing skills doesn’t question personal beliefs or political viewpoints. Training can be divisive by implying that majority group members need the training, but the training only benefits minority group members. Learning is inclusive: everyone can develop skills for personal engagement with diversity that serves everyone’s career and makes a more inclusive and innovative workplace.