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Thu, Feb. 5th, 2009, 02:20 pm
dancing_minerva: "Diversity in the Workplace" vs Actual Anti-Racism

WhiteCoworker1: *unknowingly racially profiles poc-coworker while attempting to compliment*
WhiteCoworker2: *laughs* "You weren't paying attention in the Diversity Training, were you?"
WhiteOthers: *laugh*
POC-Coworker: *uncomfortable laugh, quietly forgives, leaves*
WhiteOthers: *talking about how some people are too sensitive and the importance of intentions'*
WhiteAntiRacistMe: *flabbergasted, angry, afraid to lose my job, leaves*

I didn't handle that well. I only said one comment, made it known that I was uncomfortable with it and left.

Does anyone have any experience with re-working their company's so-called "diversity training" to actually address issues of race? Did you get it approved? Any suggestions?  

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)

So I think this already started, but it's worth checking in to, Carmen does a lot around issues of diversity training in the workplace and such.


Edited at 2009-02-06 12:31 am (UTC)

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)

i hate these one-day seminar type things. the ideas don't sink in that fast.

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)

Oh, I intend to make it better (not ideal, but baby steps). Like, maybe a 3 day workshop?

Do you know of anyone doing such a thing?

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 04:04 am (UTC)

i don't know anyone doing this stuff. mostly i hear about how people fail at this. sorry, i'm not more helpful.

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC)

I've never even worked at a place where they take the whole day. It's either nothing at all or just a video or something so short where it seems rather pointless.

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)

i wasn't thinking whole day. i was thinking, like you, a couple hours one day.

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)

I work in a preschool and we preach to follow an anti-bias curriculum. You know, challenge stereotypes etc. I have been there 2 years. Just about 6 months ago we started some heavy, and in my opinion, real anti-bias work among our staff. It was sort of easy to start because the idea started from admin staff. Pretty much they presented the definition of racism = prejudice + power, brought in 2 local professors that teach lots of diversity classes and we watched a few videos of which I can remember "The Color of Fear." If you want I could get in contact with them and ask the name of the others we saw. We also got introduced to the stages of racial identity development.

As a POC the videos were emotional, powerful, and validating. I'm not sure how it affected my white co-workers. From there we moved to holding caucus meetings, one fore White people, one for POC. We meet alternating every other week for one hour. In the POC caucus group we have talked about what we see, where we are at in our own racial identity development, how this affects how we deal/react with co-workers, families, and kids, and what we need/expect from our white co-workers in order for them to become our allies at our workplace. We have also started choosing topics of discussion relevant to our work. For example, should kids be grouped in primary groups taking race into consideration (i.e. kids of color with teachers of color), or do our books reflect the races in our classroom. I don't know what they have talked about in the White group.

We just added a monthly meeting (1 hour) where both groups will meet together and hopefully talk about these relevant discussion topics calmly and reach decisions that will improve our work with kids.

Anyways long blurb, but that is what we are doing. I think it is easier to get people interested when your actions in the workplace will affect so many impressionable minds as it is with teachers than lets say if you work in an office setting (never worked in one so I really don't know.

Don't know if this helps but there ya go.

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 09:45 am (UTC)

This sounds amazingly useful. In terms of the caucus meetings, is this an idea that your workplace has developed internally, or is it an external model? I'd be really interested to hear more about this.

Out of interest, and if you don't mind saying, what (roughly) is the racial balance of your workplace? I'm interested to see if an idea like this would be workable if POC were very much in the minority.

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)

As far as it being an internal or external model we are following I am not sure, but I am in the works of finding out.

As far as balance we are pretty well balanced, our staff is made up of 15 people plus a few substitutes. 8 are POC, 7 are White. I would be worried if it was different because I am not sure how effective this sort of training would be. I would even go so far as being scared for the POC if they were greatly outnumbered or did not have a main figure of leadership in their group because of all the potential for chaos and such.

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 07:23 am (UTC)

God, I wish my work had any kind of diversity training at all. I work with quite an elderly group of people, most white, and some of the attitudes there are horrific.

I never know what to say tho. I'm at the very bottom of the heap in terms of seniority there, and I am quite scared of losing my job (esp as the moment) so I don't say anything when I really should.

Fri, Feb. 6th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)

My workplace (which is also my home - yay residential work!) has not done much in the way of training. Our board of directors has a standing Diversity Committee, which has been very active in the last few years, though, and we are preparing for our first anti-racism training! They're doing something that I think is really good: this year, we're having an anti-racism training for staff and board members, and then next year, we plan to expand that to an anti-racism training for people in our area (we're in a rural area that doesn't get directly served by a lot of things that happen in the closest big towns).

Anyway, in preparation for this, and to try to get more board member buy-in, they wrote up a whole document about the plans for these trainings, which included a section on "Multiculturalism vs. Anti-Racism", explaining why they want to have an anti-racism training, rather than a diversity training. One part that I felt was useful was "we want people in our organization to understand the issues, regardless of their background, and come to the organization with a common set of tools to think about difference." (* this is instead of trying to make the organization "look" a certain way).

I think a good step towards getting your organization to switch to a different training style would be to come up with a few succinct reasons *why* the training you propose will be different and more effective (create a better work atmosphere, provide better service to clients, etc). I would also suggest finding some organizations that do the kind of training you are thinking of - and that do those trainings with organizations such as yours. Partially, that's about demonstrating to your company that there are trainers available, and that this is a valid model. Partially, it just provides them with the information, which makes their lives easier. And, that way, you don't have to worry that they'll change the trainings, but not make them better.