Beyond Diversity Training – What Works (Part Two)

Diversity Training: Maintaining Local Nuance when Addressing a Global Challenge

This is Part Two of a guest blog post by Richard Eastmond. Richard is the former Senior Director for People, Operations, and Corporate Services at Amnesty International. He currently serves as an independent consultant. For Part One, see above. Richard is solely responsible for the views expressed in this post.

In Part 1 of this two-part guest blog on diversity training, we address how often-maligned “mandatory diversity training” for an entire organization can actually play a vital role in a much longer journey by providing quick wins early on. A related phenomenon INGOs must address when tackling the need for greater diversity and inclusion is how to maintain local nuance while applying a global strategy to address the problem.

Any one action reverberates across the entire organization

On the one hand, there is a challenge, in an era of acute sensitivity to ethics and accountability in INGOs, where the impact of one individual within a single part of a federated organisation—which, in many respects, acts an independent entity—can cause a reputational tsunami for the global brand. On the other hand, the question when endeavouring to make a change such as increasing diversity, therefore, is how to best balance the need for a global, standardised approach with the reality of implementing such a complex change across a global network of entities of very different scales, resource levels, and leadership maturity. (And this is all without even mentioning the local cultural differences and understandings of what “diversity and inclusion” mean that deeply affect the people on the ground.)

Allowing for local nuance in implementing diversity training

Due to these myriad factors, INGOs need to carefully think through them and their nuances before adopting a “levelling up” or standardised approach to implementing diversity training. For instance, an approach that may be wholly appropriate for a European context might totally miss the zeitgeist in North America and have little relevance in countries in Asia and Africa. What is deployed needs to be adaptive, flexible, and localised, and must recognise how perspectives differ from country to country due to social norms, legacy factors, and the political and cultural context.

When developing an approach to diversity training within your organization, it is therefore necessary to use the following question as a guide:

  • How do you account for different ways of thinking and the need for local nuance when approaching diversity awareness at a global level?

I look forward to hearing your perspective: please reach out to me on LinkedIn with your responses.

Richard Eastmond, January 2021