The Missing Piece of Your Diversity Training
Talking about race at work is not easy. But it is vital to lessening the impact of bias on the careers, contributions, and well-being of every employee in your organization.
Organizational leaders want to build cultures that empower employees to contribute ideas and access opportunities, no matter their identity—so they engage consultants to facilitate training on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). However well-intentioned, though, mandatory DEI training can be demoralizing, disengaging, and frustrating.
In Interactive Theater, employees explore racism and bias by watching true-to-life scenarios connected to their own workplace, such as meetings, interviews, and career-development conversations, portrayed by professional actors who stay in character after each scene to answer questions. A facilitator helps support lasting, meaningful dialogue between the characters and audience members, in scenarios like these:
- When a Black woman asks her manager, a white male, for increased responsibility, she confronts a stereotype of Black women as he expresses concern about his team’s perception of her “angry” attitude.
- In a peer coaching scenario, an Asian-American manager offers guidance to a white colleague about how to manage blind spots, power, and privilege to become a better ally.
- During a calibration meeting, a global team discusses the accents, race, gender, and other demographic markers of employees in a reflection of both conscious and unconscious bias.
- A Black-Japanese woman in Tokyo and her colleague, an Indian man living in Singapore, explore intersectionality and allyship when they discuss the hurdles of colorism and ethnocentrism at work.
Interactive Theater focuses on a range of topics, including racial equity, unconscious bias, inclusive leadership, and human resources as a strategic diversity partner.
Learners can come away from Interactive Theater sessions with a new understanding of the impact of biased dynamics and systemic racism in the workplace. And because the sessions are rooted in real life, learners are better equipped to take action and make positive cultural change.
Engaging Learners Nontraditionally with Interactive Theater
This unique approach to DEI understanding enables learners to discern impact from intent. They can start to recognize how their behavior affects others and develop actions that align with their sphere of influence.
3 Reasons Why Interactive Theater Works
An Interactive Theater session is an opportunity to help employees process real-life challenges, empowering them to frame the conversation. Rather than being based in theory, or a list of do’s and don’ts, the technique explores the complexities and ambiguities of how diversity affects the way we engage with one another, and it does this by using three important tenets.
- Learners Are Engaged…Not Lectured
In traditional DEI training, audiences hear lectures from a facilitator who is positioned as an expert. In Interactive Theater, actors model characters whose vulnerability reflects various points of the DEI learning journey. Seeing that vulnerability helps learners engage with greater openness, trust, and ease.
Most of us don’t expect people to leave a DEI session saying, “That was fun and powerful. I want more!” And yet that is the most common reaction to Interactive Theater sessions.
- Scenes Speak to the Audience—No Matter Where They Are or What Unites Them
From country to country, local actors perform scenes localized and contextualized to reflect the setting of the employees’ organization.
Each scene is aligned with the needs, interests, and concerns of the target audience:
- Leaders build an understanding of how their words affect different people throughout the organization.
- Recruiters consider the biases at work in familiar on-the-job scenarios.
- Hiring managers discuss who gets access to career development opportunities.
- Takeaways Have Staying Power
“What would you do differently in this situation?”
In traditional DEI training, employees don’t always leave with an authentic answer to that question. But an Interactive Theater session empowers learners to develop a personal, from-the-heart answer. Participants practice what they would have said, and what they would have done, to achieve a more positive outcome.
A Flexible Solution That Fits Each Organization
Organizations can offer employees Interactive Theater virtually or in person and can easily adapt its content to support managers, executives, independent contributors, recruiting teams, and many other levels and roles.
A global appetite for nontraditional DEI learning has brought the virtual Interactive Theater training modality to thousands of employees around the world at organizations such as Stanford University, Hasbro, Inc., and Edgewell Personal Care Company, where Karen Anderson, director of DEI, said, “The impact can be felt throughout our company and has resulted in meaningful dialogue at different levels within the organization.”
Learn how IBIS can help your organization get started with Interactive Theater and boost your DEI training.
Credit byHarvard Business Review