Diversity resource group - challenges - i need a D&I expert


we have created a diversity group to help drive the culture of striving to better within diversity a common place within the business.

we have had many positive outcomes come out of the group where many employees joined and voiced there views on how we can be better.

unfortunately it also lead to a very small minority having very tough direct views which upset others and therefore could be challenged to be viewed as having un-intentionally  created an environment for one person where they felt it was hostile environment 

in a nutshell one person was upset by another's views and challenged them, this was then taken by the other person to feel their integrity was being questioned.

how have you managed a diversity group?

what actions did you take?

how did you manage the participants and their views?

i feel as though we have created a forum where we have fallen foul to people getting offended by others views.

do we have any best practice of this?

happy to have a call with a D&I expert :-) 


  • Hi Tam

    You may not need a D&I expert nearly as much as someone who's accomplished at disagreement and conflict resolution.

    Provided the group is generally leading to positive outcomes *and* provided that no individuals are from an 'objective' standpoint being treated unreasonably or unfairly then even though single individuals may *feel* upset then that's maybe just an example of not being able to please all of the people all of the time. If you can offer conflict resolution etc in order to help with the upsets then so much the better.

    Hope it all goes well for you.
  • I agree with David. They could be discussing any number of subjects and got themselves into a similar state. What is needed here is conflict resolution by a skilled facilitator. I'd also suggest getting the group to agree some ground rules on procedure to avoid conflicts in future: how they will disagree, treating each other with respect etc.

  • When you think about the difficult subject being addressed, a group where no one disagreed would be unlikely to achieve anything substantial except self-congratulation. I agree with others that your best option is in acknowledging that conflict as a natural consequence of dealing with challenging issues, and helping those involved to see themselves as part of a positive process.

    Not an easy ask, but good for everyone involved in such groups to reflect at the beginning that they may hear things that they find difficult, and to agree that the intention of everyone present is to find better ways of working and being.
  • In reply to Nina Waters:

    Additionally, but only via a fully-skilled facilitator, it may be worth looking at using the group as a vehicle for wider personal development of individual participants, which could potentially mitigate or even eliminate needless / counterproductive upset and result in a far more harmonious and effective group. T Groups or 'Encounter Groups' may be derided a bit these days as archaic etc but that may be throwing babies out with bathwater! - eg maybe

    static1.1.sqspcdn.com/.../About T-groups.pdf
  • In reply to David:

    Agree with David's comments about many tried and tested tools still having validity even if they are no longer "flavour of the month" or haven't appeared in the form of a smartphone app.......
    In a context of learning to accept the legitimacy of and the need for different viewpoints and analyses when looking at a problem I could cite de Bono's "six thinking hats" as an excellent example.....
  • Hi Tam, I am also new to the world of HR. However, I did run my own business that involved confidence-building and cultural differences.
    I did a face to face conference for a division of American Airlines where most staff came from different parts of the world. We talked about cultural mannerisms and language and how to make a universal culture that can work as one to meet organisational needs. The focus was on language (They also had an active workgroup called Language Matters). I set out a set of respect conditions from the outset and encouraged staff to talk about their own culture. I did a bit of role play right from the start and asked questions on that, whether or not they found my behaviour acceptable or not and why? By the end of the two-hour conference, they understood the importance of taking other cultural beliefs/behaviours into account. This was my first ever lesson and 87% of feedback from staff was very positive. I believe that if you are truly compassionate, you do not need facilitators. The American Airlines hold a cultural day whereby staff are encouraged to fly the flag of their country and bring in a dish that represents their country, this in itself helps the cultural divide and inclusion. # Just saying.
  • There's no easy answer and I'm not sure even the best Facilitator in the world will necessarily change anything and a mediocre one may well make things worse.

    We seem to be living and moving into a period in our time when no one is allowed, accidently or on purpose say anything which someone else finds offensive, disagreeable or gets upset about.

    A different take on this may well be , to ask, where does the problem lay?- (or who has the problem?) Me for being upset? or the person whose language I found upsetting?

    I think it is a noble idea to expect or hope that we can always spend time with fellow humans and strive to never say anything which is going to upset anyone. As others have said, this is impossible and idealistic given our different backgrounds, beliefs.

    A skilled counsellor, would see a person's anger as an opportunity to explore with them why that person allows themselves to let what someone else says upset them. Therefore it is an opportunity for positive change. Rather than blame someone else for how you feel it is an opportunity to discover what goes on that makes you get angry. You always have choices in our behaviour. You can't change someone else's behaviour, but you can change your own response to it. That is positive. Sticks and stones etc?

    Of course there is a balance and I'm not for moment suggesting it is acceptable to use that reasoning to allow someone else's views to be expressed in a deliberately provocative or argumentative way. Again a skilled facilitator or counsellor may be try to balance both but we don't live in a perfect world and therefore in an imperfect one we must sometimes accept that sometimes people will say things that upset us - and that is also a part of being human so we can accept that other people are not always able to express themselves in a way that won't upset anyone.