I wonder how many of you were watching Gogglebox on Friday (a guilty pleasure) and witnessed what Channel 4 did in the interval. If you didn’t, I urget you to take a moment to watch it now, even though you might find it shocking.
I felt an enormous well of gratitude to Channel 4 and their advertising partners for highlighting online hate, even if watching the film made me feel sick to the stomach.
For those of us who believe in equality and diversity, the film is a reminder that there is still much to do. But, coming as it does against a backdrop of rising hate crime, I’d like to go further and suggest that perhaps it also highlights the failure of a lot of equal opportunities training, which is often little more than a tick-box exercise.
When hate crimes started to show a dramatic increase a couple of years ago, my partner expressed the view that we’d been somewhat naive in believing a lot of the problems of race hate, religious hate, homophobia etc. had gone away – it had, in his view, simply become unacceptable to publicly express views that many still held in private. The worst aspect of recent political events is that it may have falsely empowered some haters with a renewed sense of legitimacy.
My personal opinion is that perhaps too much equal opportunities training has focused on rules and on adopting ‘correct’ behaviours, and ‘correct’ terminology – has focused too heavily on applying a veneer of political correctness. Very little equal opportunities training, has, in my experience, looked at beliefs, where they come from and the impact these have on behaviours, real people and on society.
Education is like any change journey – it’s most successful when we capture hearts and minds, rather than simply give instructions and force people to follow certain processes. Training that focuses on should and must, without properly exploring the why, without building real understanding of the issues, risks delivering resentful compliance.
Before we get too depressed, things have improved – for some minority groups. As a gay man, for example, I can walk down the roads holding my partner’s hand in our somewhat conservative little seaside town, and the only negative reaction tends to be slightly bemused, confused looks from some of the older residents.
But, it’s worth remembering that for some minority groups, things have got a lot worse.
I hope that Channel 4 will allow their film to be used by all organisations in their training – I’ve asked, and we’ll let you know what they say.
In the meantime, there are other ways we can help. Of all the exercises in Trainers’ Library, I’m most proud of the materials we’ve created that help people understand why Equal Opportunities and Diversity really matters, including:
- Witches of Glum – (Endorsed by Show Racism the Red Card and available to every organisation as a free sample.)
- Unequal Opportunities.
- Land of the Nutritos.
- Acts of Recognition.
- Are You OK With This?
- Breaking Out of Our Boxes.
- Minority Reports.
We’ll continue to develop exercises like these, because, as Channel 4 has shown us, there is still a lot more to do, and we cannot afford to be complacent.
About Rod Webb
Rod is co-founder and Commercial Director at Glasstap® (www.glasstap.com), the company behind Trainers' Library® (www.trainerslibrary.com) and Managers' Library (www.managerslibrary.com).
Rod has overall responsibility for the Glasstap brand and the day to day operations of the business.
Through its innovative Trainers' Library® service, Glasstap® provides trainers with easy access to its unique range of innovative, experiential learning materials, including detailed trainer's notes, handouts, participant briefs etc. The service is used by professional trainers in over 50 countries.
The recently launched Managers' LIbrary aims to help line managers become better at fulfilling their part in the leraning and development cycle providing loads of short training activities that can be used in team meetings and lots of self-development tools for the managers themselves.
Rod is the author of an extensive catalogue of experiental training materials, available through Trainers' Library®, which includes teambuilding games like Murder at Glasstap Grange and Jack Fruggle's Treasure. He now works with a team of authors who continue to develop new material for Trainers' Library and Managers' Library.
In his spare time, Rod enjoys creative writing, reading, walking, cycling and spending time with his horses and dogs. He's currently creating a new board game.