Do you find yourself terrified any time someone brings up diversity and inclusion workshops? Have you rolled your eyes at the idea of taking yet another class that tells you what you’re doing wrong? Or, perhaps you’re waiting for one of these opportunities to help you affect actual change.

Too many offerings in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) space do not address what you and your team genuinely want or need. And they don’t provide the tools for you to be an ongoing part of conversations and solutions. 

The team at WMFDP | FDP Global has been changing the face of D&I for two decades. Our immersive workshops offer a transformative experience that is changing workplaces around the globe. 

The WMFDP | FDP Global Open Enrollment labs and caucuses provide a safe space for participants to gain the knowledge and confidence to continue their journey with bravery and conviction. We’d love to hear from you with any questions about how this process works.

How to Make Your D&I Experience Meaningful

Diversity and inclusion education is a hot topic, pushed to the forefront of workplaces after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police in May 2020. But it isn’t new.

Training in this area has been available in corporate settings for decades, particularly gaining force in the 1970s. Early iterations of D&I classes often relied on shame and a “new rules to follow” mentality rather than true education.

But the conversation is shifting and evolving, and so are the learning opportunities. Individuals, teams and entire corporations are acknowledging that old-school tactics aren’t helpful. Instead, training and teaching need to be immersive, authentic and involve all the players. 

If you’re looking to grow from a diversity and inclusion workshop, here are three ways to make the most of your experience.

1. Do Your Homework When Choosing a Diversity and Inclusion Workshop

Spoiler alert. Not all D&I options are wonderful. Or effective. Or ethical. Many companies have chosen to jump into the space to capitalize on current sentiment, not because they’re ready to commit to the hard work of making meaningful change.

Dig into all available information before choosing a class, leader or workshop. Look at their history and review their mission and vision statements to get a clear idea of how they educate and support their clients. 

Doing your homework ahead of time can help you avoid staying in the frozen cycle of paralysis and fear. 

Historically, the burden of educating the insiders has fallen on the shoulders of the outsiders. Who is represented in these different groups? 

The insiders are those overrepresented in leadership positions, typically white men. The outsiders, on the other hand, are generally white women and men and women of color. Outsiders not only bear the weight of systemic inequities, but we also expect them to do all the teaching to undo centuries of oppression. 

That’s not a solution. It’s a continuation of inequity. 

Look for a setting that is collaborative and comprehensive in its approach with its clients and team. Seek out a company that courageously and deeply explores the fact that a company’s leaders are who can most readily move the needle on workplace inclusion. 

2. Name Your Fears, Or At Least Your Concerns

If you’re considering attending a D&I lab or workshop for yourself, kudos for taking this brave step. And even if you feel ambivalent about attending, you can still celebrate the work and learning that you will experience.

To move beyond just showing up and get the most possible from the experience, you need to acknowledge how this process makes you feel. When you bring your heart to the journey, you can step into the life-long process of showing up bravely for inclusion—including for yourself. You’ll also have the tools to stay in the process even when it is difficult. 

It’s common and typical for diversity and inclusion workshop participants to feel any or all of the following:

  • Angry
  • Scared
  • Curious
  • Bewildered
  • Annoyed
  • Eager
  • Skeptical

For many people, entering into the D&I space brings up feelings of deep shame, not being good enough and being blamed for everyone’s difficulties. It’s necessary to recognize and honor what comes up for you. 

If the workshop or training does its job, you will feel pulled and pushed in surprising ways. Effective workshops should honor feelings of blame and shame with compassion and empathy, not make you feel more shame. 

You should expect to feel discomfort, though, because it signals growth and change, which is the whole point of this work. It’s liberating to survive the fire of discomfort and emerge on the other side, ready to help create a world where people of all backgrounds feel valued, heard and seen. You’ll decide it’s worth it. 

3. Ask Plenty of Questions

Any authentic diversity and inclusion work involves moving into an unknown space. So it will absolutely bring up questions, confusion and uncertainty.

When you’re in a leadership position, you might be more comfortable answering than asking questions. But to make the most of your experience, dive into inquiry. Ask! 

Rarely is there only one right answer. The leaders and consultants understand that it’s difficult to use certain words or ask uncomfortable questions. That’s why this work exists. 

Working toward authentic learning and growth means having facilitators and partners you can trust and turn to for guidance and insights. 

It’s nearly impossible to shock someone leading one of these groups. They’ve likely heard it all. And, if you’re thinking it, someone else is probably wondering the same thing. Or, you’ll provide an opportunity for others to experience a different point of view. 

The other side of this coin is learning to be open to the responses. 

As humans, we naturally want to find out that we were right all along. It’s completely normal to want that. But to make meaningful change as individuals and communities, we have to take down our defenses to be receptive listeners. Listening is a vital skill for inclusion.  

Ready to Learn More?

With so many D&I opportunities available, you may feel overwhelmed trying to decide where to start. The WMFDP | FDP Global team works with leaders around the globe and across industries to bring a transformative experience to their companies. 

Too many businesses try to “solve the diversity problem” by forcing all D&I work onto the shoulders of women, people of color, or the LGBTQ+ community. Rather than building an inclusive workplace through leadership, they simply try to stack their hiring numbers.