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Webucator's Free Workplace Diversity Tutorial

Lesson: Cornerstones of Diversity

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

Diversity experts Armida Russell, Amy Tolbert, and Frank Wilderman have identified four cornerstones of diversity. They are:

  1. Knowledge.
  2. Understanding.
  3. Acceptance.
  4. Behavior.

In this lesson we will discuss each of these cornerstones in detail.

Lesson Goals

  • Describe the four cornerstones of diversity.
  • Learn how to implement the four cornerstones of diversity.

Knowledge

Knowledge is the starting point to embracing diversity in the workplace and in the world. The more information learned about other cultures and different types of people, the more comfortable you will be interacting with these groups.

Some of the best sources to increase knowledge of different types of people are:

  1. Films/movies: There are many movies that share opinions and facts regarding stereotypes and different cultures.
  2. Books: Just like movies, books are a great way to learn about people who are different from us.
  3. Magazines: Certain magazines give information about current events and history to help increase knowledge of people.
  4. Internet: This can be a great resource, but can also supply more opinion that fact. Just like any resource, make sure to understand the author's intent and make educated decisions to decide if the information is fact or fiction.
  5. Museums or memorials: These places are excellent for learning history in a more visual form.
  6. Travel: Experiencing different cultures and places firsthand is a great way to increase knowledge.
  7. Talking to different people: Having a conversation with people who are different from you can be an easy and efficient way to learn. Whether they be a different age, a different race, a different gender, different culture, or different from you in any other way, talking to them is a great way to learn about them and to find similarities.

Gathering information from these resources increases knowledge and impacts interactions with different groups and people. The more knowledge individuals have about the world around them, the greater the chance of positive relationships in the workplace and also in day to day life.

Understanding the Knowledge Cornerstone

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. Which of the following is a good way to learn about current events and history to help increase knowledge of people?
    1. Read magazines
    2. Travel
    3. Watch movies
    4. Go to museums
  2. Which of the following can supply more opinion than fact, so it is important to decide if the information is fact or fiction?
    1. Talking to different people
    2. Museums and memorials
    3. Internet
    4. Movies

Solution:

  1. The best answer is A. Read magazines
  2. In many situations you need to determine whether the information is factual, but the best answer is C. Internet.

Understanding

Once there is a solid foundation of knowledge, an individual can begin to understand how their actions affect other people's feelings. Also, understanding why a person acts a certain way increases empathy.

The best way to understand and empathize with diverse groups is to put yourself in their shoes. Here are some ideas to try:

  1. Try using a wheelchair for a day.
  2. Volunteer at an assisted living home or a place with people who represent different generations.
  3. Talk to people from different groups. Ask questions and listen to stories.
  4. Research different religions. Attend a religious service and listen to the different opinions and beliefs.
  5. Try foods from different parts of the world. Discover what traditions or special meanings are associated with the different foods. Some foods have cultural stories.
  6. Attend or volunteer at a Special Olympics event.
  7. Attend a women's rights conference or meeting. Listen and talk to the attendees.

By increasing understanding and learning to empathize we see how different people view the world and we are less likely to judge others.

Understanding the Understanding Cornerstone

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. To understand diversity means you can see how different people view the world and you can ________?
    1. Visualize
    2. Empathize
    3. Sympathize
    4. Recognize
  2. Which of the following would be a good way to better understand someone with a disability?
    1. Volunteer at the Special Olympics
    2. Learn sign language
    3. Try using a wheelchair
    4. Any of the above
  3. How can trying foods from different parts of the world increase your understanding of diversity?

Solution:

  1. B. Empathize
  2. D. Any of the above
  3. You can discover traditions, special meanings, and cultural stories associated with the different foods.

Acceptance

Acceptance does not mean you have to agree with someone. You may disagree with an individual or group's religious or political beliefs or even their sexual orientation, but you can still accept them and respect them for who they are.

Developing acceptance skills means broadening your view points. To do this, consider:

  1. Seeking out different opinions and views on politics, religion, and human issues. Listen to these opinions and remember that you do not need to agree.
  2. Observing the world around you, including children and seniors, women and men.
  3. Listening more than you speak.

Acceptance creates the potential for success for everyone. Not only will you learn more when adopting a more open minded approach, but you also welcome the possibility of new ideas and creativity from new sources. When people with different talents and ideas respect each other and work together, ingenuity thrives.

Understanding the Acceptance Cornerstone

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. True or False: Acceptance means that you condone another person's view or behavior.
  2. What is a good way to develop your acceptance skills and broaden your view?
    1. Seek out different opinions on politics.
    2. Observe different religions.
    3. Listen to the viewpoints of women.
    4. All of the above.

Solution:

  1. False. You can accept someone without agreeing with them.
  2. D. All of the above.

Behavior

The three cornerstones we just discussed all build skills that will help you change your behavior to be more respectful of diversity in the workplace and elsewhere.

  1. Knowledge: You have increased your knowledge about different types of people and groups.
  2. Understanding: You understand how your actions affect other people.
  3. Acceptance: You accept and respect people for who they are, and realize that you do not have to agree with them.

Take what you have learned from these cornerstones and make appropriate changes to your behavior. The behavioral changes support diversity in the workplace and create stronger working relationships.

Understanding the Behavior Cornerstone

Duration: 15 to 20 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. True or False: The previous three cornerstones all build up towards changing behaviors.
  2. Behavioral changes help support diversity and create what?
    1. Mistrust
    2. Stronger working relationships
    3. More work
    4. Empathy

Solution:

Exercise Solutions
  1. True.
  2. B. Stronger working relationships