The bad news

Here’s an ugly secret: diversity trainings don’t work. Unconscious bias trainings don’t work. Companies spend millions of dollars on expensive consultants and sexy programs every year with great fanfare and see zero change. Zero. I know – I was one of those expensive consultants.

True, some individuals come away from diversity and unconscious bias training with new, life-changing awareness, and even some skills. I know – I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of such breakthroughs. However, the overall ROI of such programs for organizations is low-to-nil (if it was even calculated in the first place), and the changes too small and unsustainable.

Despite billions of dollars invested by organizations in diversity programs over three decades, representation of women and people of color in organizations and leadership positions has increased minimally, and in many cases is flat or declining. Employee engagement and overall work satisfaction is dismal. Up to 75% of underrepresented employees don’t feel they’ve personally benefited from their companies’ diversity and inclusion programs. Recent events like COVID-19 and civil unrest over racism are uncovering how fragile our systems are, and how little progress has been made to create a world that works well for everyone.

Here are the top ten reasons diversity and bias training programs don’t work:

  1. Insufficient assessment was conducted prior to training to clearly identify an organization’s current state, desired state, and the most effective ways to close the gap
  2. Training is designed and implemented without a clear understanding of the specific problem to be solved (the gap that needs closing)
  3. The specific problem can’t be solved by increasing individuals’ awareness or knowledge (which is all training can provide)
  4. Training provides no skill building or clear action plans for next steps after training
  5. The organization provides no hardwired, ongoing opportunities to practice learning
  6. There is no accountability for training action plans, or unrealistic expectations
  7. The organization’s culture doesn’t support, or contradicts, the training content
  8. The broader culture outside the workplace contradicts or undermines the training content
  9. The organization has systems, processes, policies, and norms that undermine the training content, or are the true source of the problem
  10. The organization has poor or ineffective leadership

No savvy patient would go to the doctor, ask for a particular drug, and expect that doctor to simply write them a prescription. And no ethical, well-trained physician would write a prescription without taking a patient’s thorough medical history and running lab tests. However, many well-intended leaders go to diversity consultants asking for training and expect to just receive a training program without any diagnosis of the core issues the organization thinks the training will solve. And many diversity consultants simply provide training and advice without conducting a thorough diagnosis.

Similarly, no savvy consumer would ask their accountant or hairdresser for medical advice. Accountants and hairdressers have essential expertise, but not medical expertise. However, many leaders ask their employees, talent acquisition staff, learning & development professionals, or other leaders for advice on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) – but they don’t possess that expertise!

Smart, good people hire diversity consultants and training firms with good intentions. They see little-to-no change – or end up worse than they started – and conclude that diversity work doesn’t work. Meanwhile, employees grow in their frustration and resistance. Sound familiar?

The good news

Leadership, organizational culture, systems, processes and policies drive behaviors – not training. However, changing systems, culture and norms is harder to do — it requires more commitment and provides less feel-good photo ops.

For those organizations committed to true, sustainable change, the Equity EvaluationTM is a solution that offers real hope and direction. It provides the assessment needed (#1 on the list above) to identify the real problem and determine an appropriate approach to change. It helps you answer the Four Key Questions you must answer before embarking on a DEI journey that makes a meaningful difference.  Diversity and inclusion is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and equity is the true goal of both.

Contact me to learn more details and receive a customized quote for the Equity Evaluation TM!

equity evaluation

Track record of success

I’ve been doing what I now call Equity Evaluations for ten years – assessing an organization’s leadership, culture, systems, processes, policies and norms to identity strengths, weaknesses and an Action Plan for Equity.  I spearheaded and helped conduct an assessment of my own 6,000-person organization when I was an internal diversity & inclusion leader.  As a consultant, I’ve enjoyed the trust of seven different organizations for whom I led an evaluation team or conducted the complete evaluation on my own. I was involved with portions of evaluations of seven additional organizations.

My former clients range in size from 300 to 50,000 employees. They’re in nonprofit (legal advocacy, social services, philanthropy), healthcare, corporate (law firm, pharma, logistics, finance), higher education (three universities) and local government (city department).

Elements of the Evaluation

The Equity EvaluationTM includes some, or all, of the following seven elements:

  1. Calculation of the project’s ROI
  2. Robust review of all the organization’s collateral, policies, procedures, systems, processes and communications
  3. Review and analysis of employee data
  4. Interviews with key leaders and stakeholders
  5. Employee engagement survey
  6. Site visit
  7. Focus groups

Project deliverables include a comprehensive report and Action Plan for Equity, an action planning template, and an in-depth debrief and planning session with key stakeholders.


Your Lead Consultant

Susana Rinderle, MA, ACC is a writer, wisdom coach, wellness warrior and workplace wizard. She has spent nearly 30 years garnering meaningful results for her employers and clients across the U.S. and abroad in multiple sectors including nonprofit, corporate, healthcare, education and government. She is a former mediator, a Certified Professional Coach (CPC), an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) twice credentialed by the International Coach Federation, and a Certified Facilitator of The Resilience Toolkit.  Susana’s first career was in diversity & inclusion and intercultural communication. She held a university position in Guadalajara, Mexico, and was the co-founder and first Manager of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for University of New Mexico Hospitals. For twenty years, she was the President of Susana Rinderle Consulting, LLC, focused on diversity, inclusion, equity and leadership solutions for clients, and is a former Principal Consultant for Korn Ferry in the leadership development practice.  Susana is a former TEDx speaker (“Diversity is Necessary for Human Evolution”), and her articles have appeared in Workforce Magazine, The Huffington Post, Diversity Executive, American Diversity Report and Training Magazine, as well as academic journals.

Your Team

More eyes focused on your data and more brains dedicated to your results means better solutions for you! The Equity EvaluationTM team members are diverse in age, race, ethnicity and expertise. This expertise includes HR systems, recruitment, communications, organizational strategy, racial justice organizing, facilitation and team development.

Additional resources and food for thought

Want to understand better why diversity trainings don’t work? Check out these articles I’ve published over the last few years:

Don’t just take my word for it – read these excellent articles others have written:

Want to learn more about DROI – Diversity Return on Investment — and why a “New School” approach to D&I (diversity and inclusion) works?

Curious about what to look for in an effective diversity, equity and inclusion consultant? Read my articles:

Looking for my additional thoughts about equity, racism, and power? Read my articles:

Ready to explore working together?

Contact me to book a complimentary call to explore solutions for you or your team!

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