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Working with diverse individuals and communities is a business reality and being effective in these interactions is critical for organizational success. Internally, it is critical to create an inclusive environment, where all employees feel valued and respected. Externally, inclusion, sensitivity, cultural competence and respect determine public perception, the effectiveness of the organization in the community it serves and your ability to attract the right people to your agency. Although knowledge about the rule/laws surrounding diverse interactions is critical for every employee, what is often missing from diversity training is the focus on increasing our personal awareness of and reactions to diversity. Since the majority of organizations have access to lawyers and HR staff to provide training/updates to policy/law, this workshop will not cover these issues. Instead the main focus of this course will be increasing awareness of how participants react to aspects of diversity, the biases they hold, and learning how these dictate our behavior and perceptions. Participants will be challenged to step out of their comfort zone to look at themselves honestly, and gain some insight and awareness/understanding of those different from themselves. Although my hope is that your participation in this course will lead to some new insights and beliefs, this is not a brainwashing session where everyone has to leave with the same understanding of diversity. The course is designed to meet you where you are at and by doing that and providing some interactive, hands-on and educational experience, I hope is that you will arrive at some new insights as a result of this course.
Topics for this course vary, but generally include: defining diversity; assessment of personal values, beliefs, biases, and projections; setting of personal goals for the course; discussion of how diversity issues play out in the organization; education about hidden aspects of diversity and an exploration of diversity in terms of race/ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability status, SES, and health/mental health status.
This type of course can be developed as a general overview on the topic, but will be most effective if it is tailored to the needs of your organization/community. Additionally the course is most beneficial if it is at least two days, so participants can have some time to reflect and complete some brief homework assignments that will be utilized the next day. This reflection time enhances the awareness of participants and can deepen discussion as the course continues. However, if a one day class is best for your organization, Dr. Miller will happily develop an effective course within these parameters.
This course utilizes a variety of approaches (e.g., videos, lecture, small and large group discussion, experiential exercises, personal reflection/assessment exercises, role plays and scenarios) to fully engage participants in the topic, provide opportunities for increased awareness, connection and understanding among participants.