The missing part of your diversity training

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The missing part of your diversity training

Talking about race at work isn’t easy. But it’s vital to reduce the impact of bias on the careers, contributions, and well-being of every employee in your organization.

Organizational leaders want to create a culture that empowers employees to contribute ideas and access opportunities regardless of identity, so they engage consultants to facilitate diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) training. As well-intentioned as it is, mandatory DEI training can be demoralizing, discouraging, and frustrating.

In Interactive Theater, contributors explore racism and prejudice by looking at real-life scenarios related to their own workplace, such as meetings, interviews, and career development talks, played by professional actors who stay in their character after each scene to answer questions. A facilitator helps support sustained, meaningful dialogue between the characters and audience members, in scenarios like these:

When a black woman asks her manager, a white man, for more responsibility, she confronts a stereotype of black women as he expresses concern about his team’s perception of her “angry” attitude. In a peer coaching scenario, an Asian-American manager offers guidance to a white colleague on how to deal with blind spots, power, and privilege to become a better ally. During a calibration meeting, a global team discusses employees’ accents, race, gender and other demographics in a reflection of both conscious and unconscious bias. A black Japanese woman in Tokyo and her colleague, an Indian man living in Singapore, explore intersectionality and alliance as they discuss the barriers of colorism and ethnocentrism at work.

Interactive Theater focuses on a range of topics, including racial equality, unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, and human resources as a strategic diversity partner.

Students can emerge from Interactive Theater sessions with a new understanding of the impact of biased dynamics and systemic racism in the workplace. And because the sessions are rooted in real life, students are better equipped to take action and make positive cultural change.

Engaging students in a non-traditional way with interactive theater

This unique approach to DEI understanding allows students to discern the impact of intent. They can begin to recognize how their behavior affects others and develop actions that align with their sphere of influence.

3 reasons why interactive theater works

An Interactive Theater session is an opportunity to help employees work through real-life challenges, empowering them to frame the conversation. The technique is not based on theory, or a list of do’s and don’ts, but explores the complexities and ambiguities of how diversity affects the way we interact with each other, using three key principles.

Students are engaged… not taught

In traditional DEI training, the audience hears lectures from a facilitator positioned as an expert. In Interactive Theater, actors model characters whose vulnerability reflects different points of the DEI learning journey. By recognizing that vulnerability, students can deal with more openness, trust and ease.

Most of us don’t expect people to leave a DEI session saying, “That was fun and powerful. I want more!” And yet that’s the most common response to Interactive Theater Sessions.

Scenes speak to the audience – no matter where they are or what unites them

From country to country, local actors perform scenes that are localized and contextualized to reflect the setting of the workers’ organization.

Each scene is tailored to the needs, interests and concerns of the target audience:

Leaders gain insight into how their words affect different people across the organization. Recruiters consider the bias at work in familiar on-the-job scenarios. Hiring managers discuss who will have access to career advancement opportunities. Takeaways have lasting power

“What would you do differently in this situation?”

With traditional DEI training, employees do not always leave with an authentic answer to that question. But an Interactive Theater session allows students to develop a personalized, heartfelt response. Participants practice what they would have said, and what they would have done, to achieve a more positive outcome.

A flexible solution that suits every organization

Organizations can offer employees Interactive Theater virtually or in person and can easily adapt the content to support managers, executives, independent employees, recruiting teams and many other levels and roles.

A global appetite for non-traditional DEI learning has thousands of employees around the world at organizations such as Stanford University, Hasbro, Inc. and Edgewell Personal Care Company brought the virtual interactive theater training modality, where Karen Anderson, director of DEI, said: “The impact is felt throughout our company and has resulted in meaningful dialogue at different levels within the organization.”

Discover how IBIS can help your organization get started with Interactive Theater and boost your DEI training.


This post The missing part of your diversity training was original published at “https://hbr.org/sponsored/2022/03/the-missing-piece-of-your-diversity-training”

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