Diversity Disaster to Partnership
As one of six, nationally selected firms to conduct legislated diversity training for 75 governmental agencies employing 60,000 employees in the State of Connecticut, we were selected by an 1800 employee agency for high level expertise and customization. It previously conducted diversity training with disastrous results, creating greater animosity and divisiveness. It also was experiencing significant change led by their new Commissioner. Mandated diversity training at this time was going to be problematic at the very least. We needed to develop a highly customized program that would deliver mandated curricula, get participants beyond anger of the past and create a solid level of understanding and commitment to diversity and inclusion. And, we had to utilize Train-the-Trainer methodology to support their budget constraints.
We conducted a survey with all employees and a number of focus groups to understand the scope, depth and prevalence of issues within the agency. In addition to D&I findings, employees raised serious issues related to management. Before we could move their staff toward D&I, we had to let them know they had been heard.
We created and conducted the Train-the-Trainer class for eighteen managers and professionals – some with training experience, many without. With high sensitivity on this topic, we worked with staff who had experienced the former program to create a program they could champion with confidence. Initial sessions were conducted in partnership with one of our consultants.
Our manager program gave individuals better understanding of their organizational dynamics and the business case for diversity for their agency. The mid-managers then partnered with us to carefully develop strategies and action plans to effect a diverse and inclusive organization. Through these manager sessions, we enhanced camaraderie, provided a compass to improve their organization, and met the mandated criteria. Employee sessions then rolled out with teams of agency trainers. Follow-up with our client the following year continued to be positive. The trainers had become champions of diversity within the organization, the managers understood and were exhibiting behaviors of inclusion, morale was continuing to improve, diversity now had a positive connotation and leaders were working to resolve critical issues with mid-managers and labor.