Ask the White Guy: Is Diversity Training Effective? What Would Make It Effective?

Is diversity training effective? The answer isn't a chicken-or-egg riddle.


Do you think diversity training is effective? What would make it effective?


Most of the "diversity training" I've seen is not very sophisticated. Some companies think "compliance" training is diversity training, but that's incorrect. In my opinion, to build a good diversity-training program, you have to first have a plan. To have a plan you need goals. And to get goals, you need measurement to tell you where you are. Here is a quick sequence:

1. Benchmarking (find out where your company is)

2. Engagement, broken out by race, gender and age (how the people in your company feel)

3. Understanding goals (approved by the CEO)

4. Diversity plan (to take from where you are and how your people feel to where you want to go)

5. Training (to help accomplish the plan)

DiversityInc has the most sophisticated benchmarking available—we use SAS software to crunch the extensive data we've collected (for 13 years) in the DiversityInc Top 50 process. We also use our own engagement survey to gain more perspective on the benchmarking data; if you can benchmark and survey by division, you can get very finite in finding where your opportunities are. In the past year, we've helped several companies align their diversity programs with the strategic direction of the company. This has the result of pulling in top management to the cause.

One more thing: Training for top management should be considered carefully. I've found that a discussion of legacy is motivating for senior executives. The recent presidential election has brought understanding about the business case for diversity in a way I've never seen before. There seems to be far more clarity on how effectively relating to people where they are is absolutely necessary to achieve the results you want. I've spoken at several meetings where I've seen an immediate change in tempo as a result of linking the reality around demographics and diversity-plan results to their roles as senior executives—and whether or not they're going to leave their organization better, or worse, prepared to meet the immediate future.

Luke Visconti's Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Video: Diversity is 'Un-American,' a 'Bunch of Crap,' Says Republican Congressional Candidate

Seth Grossman once said, "I do know of many Africans who wish their ancestors had been taken to America as slaves, and who are now risking their lives on flimsy boats every day to come to America."

In a room of among many of his peers — white, male conservatives — Seth Grossman pleaded his case that diversity threatens the "traditional ways that made America great" and is a "bunch of crap" supported by Democrats and communists.

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Howard Schultz Steps Down as Chairman of Starbucks

From the #RaceMatters campaign in 2015 to optional racial-sensitivity training last week, Starbucks is failing in diversity and inclusion.


Howard Schultz is stepping down as executive chairman of Starbucks, the company announced in a press release Monday.

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Clearly communicated policies and values build corporate diversity success — treating people right is not an option for a well-run company.

Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 18 years of experience publishing DiversityInc.

By making yesterday's diversity training optional, Starbucks revealed top management indecision about its own principles and how to treat customers.

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Two Different Cups of Joe: How The Coffee Bean and Starbucks Handled Racism

In an age of increasing racial confrontations, a business must have zero tolerance for discrimination.

In the Trump era, there has been a proliferation of Islamophobic and racist incidents across the country. When discrimination occurs at a place of business, it's apparent if the company's leadership and workforce support diversity and inclusion. A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café barista refused to serve a racist customer; meanwhile, a white manager at a Starbucks called the police on two Black men for no reason.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Executives from Nielsen, New York Life, TIAA and Toyota Motor North America talk about communicating their commitment to D&I management and backing it up with actions that get results.

At the 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 event, more than 400 people were in attendance during the day to hear best practices on effectively managing diversity and inclusion.

Moderator: Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc


  • Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen
  • Kathleen Navarro, VP & Chief Diversity Officer, New York Life
  • Steve Larson, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion, TIAA
  • Adrienne Trimble, General Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Toyota Motor North America