Corporations still struggle to present diversity training to their workers. Case in point: recently leaked Target diversity training documents in which theoretical scenarios are meant to teach its supervisors how to deal with, for example, workers who are scared of Muslims, stereotypes about African-American employees, and other situations related to diversity and discrimination that may come up in the workplace.
Obtained by The Huffington Post, “Diversity Scripts for Stores” is a 49-page internal document with explanations for how to deal with potentially inflammatory workplace issues. This as Target faces a discrimination lawsuit filed by three former employees earlier this month. Each script, which have titles like “‘Terrorized’ Team Member” and “No Hablo Español,” is composed of three parts: a set-up, a conversation and a debrief. According to Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder, these types of conversations can be “deeply personal.”
“Because of that, this resource was created to help ensure our team continues to handle diversity conversation in the most sensitive way possible,” she told HuffPo. “This was one element of a larger program designed to foster open, honest, respectful conversations.”
But according to Jim Beard, a human resources expert and a professor of management at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, these types of training methods are often used by companies to “cover their rear ends.”
Look at the scenarios, says Beard. “Each scenario laid out in the document is so specific, the scripts are probably based on real problems that Target has had to deal with in the past,” writes HuffPo. On the downside, many of the scripts may be “exacerbating some of these stereotypes rather than mitigating them,” Beard told the website.
These situations may or may not be fictitious but Target is dealing with a real-life discrimination lawsuit, one which mentions Target’s diversity training documents as evidence of the company’s insensitivity. Three former warehouse workers suing the retailer in California’s Yolo County cite a document distributed to warehouse managers that addressed Hispanic stereotypes in their suit. The cited document, called “Organization Effectiveness, Employee and Labor Relations Multi-Cultural Tips,” actually notes that not all Hispanics eat tacos and burritos, dance to salsa or wear sombreros.
“According to their complaint, the workers took offense to the generalizations and claimed that their supervisors, who were nearly all Caucasian, frequently used racial slurs when talking to Hispanic employees,” writes HuffPo.
Target has acknowledged the document, but said it was used without approval from the corporate office at one warehouse and has apologized for its contents.
The other “Diversity Scripts” are corporate-approved and distributed to Target stores.