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Webucator's Free Diversity Training for Employees and Managers Tutorial

Lesson: Diversity Obstacles

Welcome to our free Diversity Training for Employees and Managers tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Diversity Training for Employees and Managers course.

There are many diversity barriers in the workplace. This lesson discusses the negative effects of stereotypes and biases and how best to overcome these problems.

Lesson Goals

  • Learn how to recognize stereotypes.
  • Learn how to recognize biases.
  • Learn how to confront negativity and overcome diversity obstacles.
  • Learn how to increase diversity awareness within the work environment.

Stereotypes and Biases

Stereotypes and biases are everywhere in the world and they affect everyone. The first step in conquering these diversity obstacles is to be more aware of what stereotypes and biases are and how they affect our lives.

Stereotypes

A stereotype is a generalization about a person or group that can be positive or negative. Typically stereotypes are exaggerated descriptions that lump all people with certain characteristics into one group.

Everyone uses stereotypes and sometimes, even without wanting to, we form opinions of people based on stereotypes. Making assumptions about other people prevents us from appreciating the unique ideas each person has to offer.

Examples of stereotypes:

  1. Women are more emotional than men.
  2. Wealthy managers are snobs.
  3. Japanese employees are smarter with technology.
  4. Men from the Middle East are sexist.
  5. Black people are more athletic.
  6. All Texans like country music.
  7. All Republicans own guns.

Bias

Biases can be positive or negative but generally mean that someone has a personal preference. A person can be biased towards certain political beliefs, certain cultures, certain races, or any type of characteristic or ideology.

Typically past experiences form biases. If you have a positive memory of working with a certain type of person, you are inclined to believe another person with similar attributes will be good to work with. The same is true with negative memory associations.

It is normal for people to have biases and preferences, but these become a problem when someone allows their biases and preferences to interfere with their ability to make impartial, objective decisions.

Understanding Stereotypes and Biases

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. True or False: Stereotypes are always negative.
  2. How are biases typically formed?
    1. From stereotypes.
    2. By getting to know an individual.
    3. From past experiences.
    4. By watching the media.

Solution:

  1. This is a trick question. People can use stereotypes with positive intentions. For example, saying that Indians are intelligent and good at math. This is a positive statement but still can have negative effects. It is better to compliment individuals on their excellent math skills, and not state that they are smart simply because of their race or culture.
  2. C. From past experiences.

Confront Stereotypes and Biases

People are faced with stereotyping every day. Sometimes they are the victim of stereotyping and sometimes they witness co-workers or other people they know being stereotyped. At times it is necessary to confront people who use stereotypes or make prejudiced comments.

Whether or not you confront someone else's behavior, everyone can benefit from being aware of and confronting their own biases.

Try the following exercise when you meet someone new:

  1. Ask yourself what first impressions come to mind.
    1. Do you think this person is intelligent? Why or why not?
    2. Do you think this person is a hard worker? Why or why not?
  2. Are you reminded of someone else you know from a past experience?
    1. If so, is this a positive or negative memory?
    2. Because of this memory, do you feel more or less likely to trust this person?

After answering these questions you can see how your own stereotyping and biases may affect how you view people. Once you are aware of a possible bias, it is easier to confront the issue and try to make a more objective decision.

Understanding How to Confront Stereotypes and Biases

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. True or False: Confronting stereotypes and biases means speaking up to co-workers or others who use these behaviors, and also means recognizing your own tendencies and confronting your own behavior.
  2. True or False: Once you are aware of a possible bias, it is harder to be open-minded when you meet new people because you are constantly thinking about your bias.

Solution:

  1. True.
  2. False. It is actually easier to confront the issue and try to make a more objective decision once you are aware of your own biases.

Overcome Obstacles and Increase Diversity Awareness

It is obvious that stereotypes and biases are diversity obstacles, but it is not so simple to overcome them. It would be impossible to expect people to not have biases. The best way to overcome these obstacles is to increase diversity awareness:

  1. In the workplace.
  2. In our daily lives.

One way to increase awareness in the workplace is for a company to create a diversity policy and make sure all employees know and understand it. This includes diversity training and having resources available for questions, as well as making it clear how and to whom issues should be escalated when necessary.

In order to increase diversity awareness, employees need to recognize the benefits of having a diverse workforce. Getting to know themselves and the people they work with is a big part of this. Companies often train employees on tasks or job-specific skills. Taking the time to train employees and teams to really know and understand each other is just as important.

Employees also need to be invited and encouraged to help change the business culture. If a company wants a diverse workplace, just hiring diverse people is not enough. The whole business culture must change and it starts by getting the employees involved and giving everyone responsibility.

Understanding How to Overcome Obstacles

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. True or False: Employees need to learn how to ignore stereotypes and biases so they no longer exist.
  2. Which if the following is NOT a good way to increase diversity awareness in the workplace?
    1. Create a policy.
    2. Require diversity training.
    3. Have resources available for employee questions.
    4. Hire people from different cultures and expect employees to get used to it.
  3. Why is hiring a diverse workforce not enough to promote diversity?

Solution:

  1. False. It is impossible to expect people not to have biases and trying to ignore them does not solve the problem.
  2. D. Hire people from different cultures and expect employees to get used to it.
  3. The whole business culture must change, not just the people. It starts by getting the employees involved and giving everyone responsibility. Showing the benefits of diversity and allowing employees to really know and understand each other is very important.