Diversity training for managers (part 2) literature review

Diversity training has received increased attention with the suggestion that a well-managed diverse workforce offers organizations advantages beyond those that a uniform workforce offers (e.g. Seymen, 2006; Maxwell, Blair & McDougall, 2001). However, the effectiveness of diversity training programs in acquainting managers with skills that facilitate diverse groups to work together remains equivocal (Rainey, 2010). For instance, Sachez and Medkik (2004) evaluated how diversity training influenced a managers’ differential treatment of staff members from diverse cultural backgrounds using a sample of 125 managers and supervisors. The study’s findings indicated that training on diversity awareness did not confer a better knowledge of social perception biases in managers; such perceptions were explained better by the education level of managers (Sachez & Medkik, 2004). For instance, managers who received training appeared to become unfriendly to employees they perceived to have led to their enrollment in training. Such findings are replicated in a survey evaluating whether diversity training is necessary. Although, a majority of the respondents (79 %) supported such training, but those who opposed (22 %) associated diversity training with creation of in and out-groups within the organization  (“Is Diversity Necessary?”, 1994). 

A different study that evaluated the efficacy of diversity programs using Federal data on 708 private sector firms related the effects of diversity-training programs to the subject they addressed. For instance, programs that aimed to encourage an increase in the proportion of women and black men in management positions showed little effect (Kalev, Dobbin & Kelly, 2006). Additionally, programs that use mentoring and networking to reduce social isolation showed moderate effect in achieving their goals (Kalev, Dobbin & Kelly, 2006). A strong efficacy was noted in the programs that established responsibilities for compliance to a manager. Such findings indicate that the design of the program may be the main determinant of the efficacy of diversity training programs. This perception is supported by studies arguing out for the need to treat diversity training as a continuous and inclusive part of organizational processes rather than a separate program conducted on a periodic basis (Chavez, & Weisinger, 2008; Bell & Kravitz, 2008; Anand & Winters, 2008; McLaughlin & Clemons, 2004).

A longitudinal study assessing effectiveness of training programs by assessing participants perception of workforce diversity prior to, during, and after training indicated positive effects of training. In this study, De Meuse, Hostager and O’Neill (2007) found that diversity training offered in workshops helped to improve participants’ emotional reactions, judgments, behavioral reactions, perception about personal consequences and perception about organizational outcomes. The efficacy of the programs was also evident when the overall perspective about workforce diversity was considered. Such positive effects are buttressed by a review cited by Bell and Kravitz (2008) indicating that diversity education increases trainees’ knowledge and creates positive attitudes towards diversity (p. 305). However, the effectiveness of such sessions is further mediated by the competence (e.g. cultural and communication) of trainers (Gilbert & Cartwright, 2008). Continue to the conclusion.

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