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Training is a frequent, and often necessary, component of any successful diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) initiative, and hiring an external firm to deliver workshops is often a wise business decision. However, it can easily be a waste of money and the precious time participants spend away from their offices if the partner you select is inadequate or a poor fit. I’ve seen workshops (conducted by others) backfire by providing little to no practical value or, worse, creating or exacerbating unproductive tension or problems. Organizations with such an experience often conclude that diversity training doesn’t work, which has a chilling effect on future D&I efforts.

Often the issue isn’t that diversity training doesn’t work, but that the organization selected an inadequate partner, or one that wasn’t a good fit. Not all diversity training (nor diversity trainers) is alike, especially now that D&I is more common and sought-after than ever before. Ensure you’re set up for success before investing by answering the following questions:

  • Do we need training? Do we need it now? Training is the solution only if lack of knowledge or skills is the primary problem. Choose a  partner with additional expertise in OD (organizational development) who will work with you to determine what your specific  needs are and whether or not this is the right time to embark on a rollout. Be wary of a partner who is quick to sign on without first doing adequate assessment and delivering expert recommendations.
  • Who do we already have internally with expertise in training, OD, adult learning, instructional design, and facilitation? Ensure those key stakeholders are intimately involved in any D&I planning and implementation. Not only will they ask questions, make suggestions, and catch possible problems early that staff without this expertise will miss, they will share the burden of reinforcing and sustaining new knowledge and skills after training. It’s efficient and vital to your long-term success to ensure these critical internal partners are meaningfully involved from the very beginning.

Ask your potential partner the following questions: Keep reading!

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