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Workforce
Implementation: Managing Resistance to Diversity Training

Diversity is becoming an increasingly important facet of business culture in the 21st century. However, when most people think of diversity in business, they tend to think exclusively in terms of a business hiring a diverse body of employees, usually to meet a government-mandated quota of some sort. Ultimately, these tactics do not effectively promote true diversity in comparison to working effectively to integrate diversity into all aspects of a business, even on the supply side. In fact, working with diverse suppliers is an excellent way for a business to reap the advantages that diversity naturally brings to any market. By working with diverse suppliers, including minority-owned businesses, organizations can enjoy a greater range of supplier solutions to their needs, more innovative approaches to filling supply needs, and an assurance that, whatever the strategic context, they will have access to a supplier that can perform as desired. In this sense, adopting a policy of working with a desired range of suppliers can actually be considered a sound business strategy.

Resistance to Diversity Training

Nevertheless, because of the way in which diversity is incorrectly perceived at the cultural level, many organizations and their employees still feel a sense of resistance to diversity training. Because of the value that diversity can bring to an organization, it is useful to explore why this is the case. For one, employees have a tendency to think about diversity incorrectly, and perceive it only in regards to hiring policies. It is the responsibility of leaders to educate employees about the real nature and value of diversity.

Another reason for resistance may well be that certain employees not considered “minorities” can feel excluded from diversity practices. This is not a complaint with diversity per se, but rather with its inaccurate perception and implementation. Once again, it falls to organizational leaders to pursue diversity in such a way that all unique voices are heard and fairly considered, and that the needs of all employees are met.

It is also worth noting that oftentimes women feel a special sort of resistance to diversity practices. Research into the matter suggests this is because the main concern for most women in the workplace is not preferential treatment (positive or negative), but rather equality. Women may well feel as if the increased focus placed on them through diversity practices would in fact undermine their efforts to be treated as equals in the workplace. Again, this is a matter where leadership should clarify perceptions about diversity practices and re-emphasize that equality is the goal and essence of diversity training, as well as the market advantage to be gained by diversification within and outside the organization.

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