I have a particular interest in Equal Opportunities and Diversity. Over the years, I’ve written several course modules on this topic, including Breaking Out of Our Boxes, and The Witches of Glum, which was endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card and is used in schools around the UK. (It's available as free sample on Trainers' Library too.)
Colleagues and associates have made their own valuable contributions to Trainers’ Library. Frances Ferguson wrote the brilliant Unequal Opportunities, for example, and Valerie Fawcett contributed one of my all-time favourite learning activities, Land of the Nutritos.
It’s easy to become complacent about equal opportunities. After all, it’s 65 years since Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her bus seat for a white passenger, 57 years since Martin Luther King said, ‘I have a dream’, 51 years since the Stonewall riots. In the UK, there have been 45 years since the Sex Discrimination Act, 44 years since the Race Relations Act and 10 years since the Equality Act was passed.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that was enough time to deliver change and perhaps that’s why, in a lot of organisations, training around equal opportunities and diversity has become little more than a tick box exercise.
Of course, in many countries, there has been a lot of positive change in the last 50 years or so. But, if we’ve learnt one thing in recent days, it’s that there really is no room for complacency. And this isn’t just a problem for the US. Minority groups everywhere still face challenges and barriers that simply don’t exist for other people.
Writing the wrongs of hundreds of years is not something that can be fixed overnight. But we all have a role to play in confronting and challenging inequality where we find it.
And as trainers, I believe we have a special responsibility to drive forward change, in part by raising awareness of prejudice and unfairness and by building empathy and understanding between groups.
And we have a vital role to play in building diverse teams where every person is able to achieve their full potential. Where people of all shapes, sizes, creeds, races, beliefs, sexual orientations and identities trust and support one another.
The journey may have begun many years ago, but we are not yet at the destination.