A Positive Outlook: On the Value of Diversity Training

A recent study, conducted by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute in Management and Technology suggests that managers and executives who find diversity initiatives valuable are generally more satisfied with and committed to their careers. The study, entitled “The Relationship Between Diversity Training, Organizational Commitment and Career Satisfaction” was published in the 2010 Journal of European Industrial Training.

Managers, professionals and executives who perceived diversity trainings as beneficial to themselves and their workforce reported career satisfaction and organizational commitment scores 7-14 percent higher than those working in organizations where diversity training is nonexistent or ineffective. The extensive study, which collected data from more than 11,000 individuals, has many positive implications for those driving diversity and inclusion initiatives across the nation.
 
Many Diversity & Inclusion practitioners citethe various benefits that result from successful diversity initiatives such as improved recruitment, corporate culture, morale, teamwork, client relations – but now they can add the measures of career satisfaction and organizational commitment to the list.
 
Why might this be so?
 
Margaret Yap, the researching institute’s director, put it best – “It’s important that employees understand that the training is intended to help facilitate and enhance collaborative behaviors among today’s diverse workforce. These collaborative behaviors will improve an organization’s abilities to solve problems and increase productivity, innovation, creativity and morale.” So, diversity trainings lead to improved collaborative behaviors which then lead to all sorts of other benefits for the company.  And as you may well guess, the study proves that the productive, creative, successful problem-solvers are more likely to be committed to and happy with their personal careers.
 
The“Accommodation Mindset,” a term we use at Tanenbaum to illustrate the process of accommodating a diverse workforce, can work as a starting point in shifting your attitude towards diversity initiatives. Managers who have a more complete understanding of the benefits that come from diversity initiatives can begin to approach the incidents and conflicts that arise in their diverse employee populations as opportunities – an opportunity to create a more comfortable work environment by offering a quiet room for your employees, or an opportunity to go above and beyond what the most successful Fortune 500 companies are doing with their Employee Resource Groups. Starting with a positive attitude opens the door to move beyond simply accommodating your workforce, and can help companies (and individuals) get ahead of the curve.
 
In an increasingly demanding and fast-paced working environment, it’s easy to lose sight of the value of time-consuming diversity initiatives. But studies like these show that taking the time to see the value in diversity trainings, or even taking a moment to ask your employees the questions that matter can make a difference – not only for the company – but for your own career.