SHRM Announces Program to De-Polarize Workplaces, Offer Businesses Unifying Alternative to Mainstream Diversity Practices
Research conducted by SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) shows that 95% of U.S. employees have been involved in polarizing workplace discussions, whether as participants, bystanders, or managers. Couple this with the fact that 41% say they have quit jobs because their values are stigmatized by colleagues, and the conclusion is clear: Work environments are powder kegs of us-against-them toxicity.Addressing the urgent need for empathy and respect, SHRM is partnering with Moral Courage College to distribute an innovative inclusion program, Diversity Without Division. It is informed by the science of how to unify people in tense times.SHRM Chief Knowledge Officer Alex Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, says, “Diversity is so much more effective when contesting views are respected. But most companies don’t know how to handle polarization, let alone leverage it as an opportunity to enhance belonging. Diversity Without Division is a game-changing solution.”“Inclusion should be exactly that—inclusive not only of different demographics but also of varied viewpoints, since diversity exists within groups as much as between groups,” says Irshad Manji, the New York Times bestselling author and founder of Moral Courage College,
which developed Diversity Without Division.“This program doesn’t tell anybody what to think or believe,” Manji adds. “It teaches everybody to lower their emotional defenses so that contentious issues can be turned into constructive conversations and healthy teamwork.”According to additional SHRM research, nearly 62% of HR professionals cite “increased willingness of employees to express/understand different perspectives” and “increased collaboration among colleagues” as organizational priorities. These figures are consistent with national data that shows 77% of Americans are exhausted by divisiveness and looking for ways to work together.
Diversity Without Division participants gain the skills to:
- Build trust with those who have dramatically different opinions.
- Create common ground and not just seek it.
- Reduce anxiety during disagreements.
- Ask questions that are sincere rather than judgmental.
- Listen to understand instead of to win.
Dr. Cornel West, the renowned scholar and democracy advocate, recognizes the impact of Diversity Without Division, calling it a “powerful force for good.”Industry leaders such as global enterprise TEKsystems, and smaller businesses such as The Stelter Company in Iowa, have adopted Diversity Without Division modules. So have more than 70 organizations across the U.S. and Canada.Says Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of SHRM, “Our own Blue Ribbon Commission on Racial Equity has found that it’s impossible to foster genuine inclusion in the absence of empathy. That’s the revolutionary work of Diversity Without Division. It equips people with the tools to heal our deepest divides—as well as our ourselves.
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