DEI and Unconscious Bias Training Just Isn’t Cutting It

December 7, 2021

Yes, we need to explore and appreciate our differences. And it's imperative that leaders have the tools to effectively manage and lead their diverse teams. But a whole room full of high intensity emotions from people I barely know. Seriously?!

“Good intentions gone awry.” That was my thought after my recent diversity training experience. And while I was sitting through the session, all I kept thinking was, “Seriously? A whole room full of high intensity emotions from people I barely know. How can this possibly end well?!!” I didn’t know whether to jump in or just protect myself from all the crazy swirling around the room.

It’s sad, when you think about it. Of course, we need to explore and appreciate our differences. Of course, we need to know that not everyone is having the same experience of reality. Of course, there is painful history in this country that has never been reckoned with. Of course, we all have to do better. But are we going about this in the right way?

I don’t know about you, but I do better in one-on-one conversations.

I’m more open and curious. I listen better. I’m rarely defensive. I enjoy hearing people’s stories and sharing my own. When it comes to group settings, I can freeze up, feel exposed and I’m reluctant to take too many risks. So, take a topic as potentially explosive as diversity and I can tell you for certain, I won’t be at my best.

No one I spoke to after our training session told me, “Wow, that was fantastic! I totally see my blind spots now and I have the tools to do better.” Instead, what I heard was…well, not repeatable here.

So, here’s a crazy idea. Can we dispense with the group training sessions and get back to the lost art of great dialogues with one other person? Give me time in my schedule to sit for an hour with someone I don’t know, someone who comes from a different place than I do. Give me 10 hours to do that with 10 different people. And maybe remind all of us how to talk with each other. You know that quaint thing we used to do before texting?

And maybe if you heard my story, you wouldn’t think I’m such a weirdo anymore.

The Messy Truth About Leading People believes the best way of appreciating and employing diversity of all kinds is to have a meaningful one-on-one dialogue.
Contact us if you are ready to take your leadership skills to the next level by unleashing human potential through diversity.