I was a Motivational Speaker for the CUPA HR Southern Regional Conference this week. It was an amazing event evolving around the themes of engagement and diversity.
One of the sessions for the higher education HR professionals was a team of diversity speakers from Valencia Community College,Vicki Nelson and Joe Nunes.
Cutting edge, motivational and interesting speakers, the Circles of Belonging diversity workshop activities presented were exceptional, raising my awareness and understanding of diversity and its strengths.
The speakers presented the following Myths about Diversity:
- Diversity is a problem to fix
- Diversity is H.R.'s responsibility
- Diversity is only about race and gender
- Diversity is a passing trend
- Diversity is about labeling
The Valencia Community College diversity speakers offered several advantages to a diverse workplace such as innovative ideas, fresh perspectives, dynamic talent pool and expanded horizons. Today's changing global workforce needs to recognize a range of beliefs, perceptions, values and behaviors.
To help organizations do this, Valencia Community College has developed a 4 hour diversity workshop, Circles of Belonging. The speakers at the HR conference condensed this content into an hour and a half.
Below are 4 of the best Diversity workshop exercises I have seen:
1. The Silent Interview.
Hand out forms with questions like... What is your favorite hobby? Where did you spend your childhood? What is your favorite music and food? What position or department are you in? What do you value the most (ie work, travel,family)? What languages do you speak in addition to English? This interview happens with no words; you simply look at your partner and guess the answers. This activity forces you to be aware of stereotypes placing people in mental files. Compare your answers with your partner's legitimate responses and see how far off you are.
2. Find things in Common.
Pair up with someone you don't know and discover the similarities you have. This is a great activity because you realize how much in common you can have with a complete stranger.
3. Memory of First Difference.
Remember the first time you felt different from others. How did it make you feel? What did you do with that memory?
The diversity workshop leaves participants with an increased understanding of similarities and differences.
Another interesting, consciousness raising practice I took from the workshop was this: Before being hired by the college, every candidate is asked What is diversity?
Many people embrace the familiar and resist the unknown, which is exactly what makes stereotypes grow.
The find out more about the Valencia Community College Diversity speakers and workshop click here.