An evaluation of diversity training: Effects of trainer characteristics and training focus
Holladay, Courtney L.
Dipboye, Robert L.
Doctor of Philosophy
Reports of discrimination in employment practices are filed with the courts on a frequent basis (e.g., Labor Law Reports, 2004). Organizations manage the benefits and costs of diversity by implementing diversity training for employee participation. The present study takes a step toward building the area of diversity training research to support the practices in place within organizations. An integrated model for training evaluation was used based upon work by Kirkpatrick (1976), Alliger and colleagues (1997), and Kraiger and colleagues (1993). The results of the evaluation showed that trainees attending diversity training reacted with less backlash toward the training, exhibited greater behavioral and cognitive learning, and used race and gender to a lesser degree in a hiring decision task than trainees in a control training condition. There was no difference between these individuals in terms of their self-efficacy, attitudes toward diversity, perceptions of team processes, or conflict situational judgment test (SJT) scores. In addition to the training evaluation, design features (trainer race and gender, focus of training) were examined. The results showed that reactions toward the trainer were dependent on the trainer's race and gender as well as the content of the training course. Furthermore, those trainees attending diversity training who reacted more favorably toward the trainer exhibited greater affective and cognitive learning. These trainees also perceived more favorable group processes in a simulated diverse team and relied on qualifications in addition to race and sex of the applicant in a hiring task. There was no difference between trainees with low and high reactions toward their trainer in terms of conflict SJT scores. Finally, trainees who focused on similarities scored higher on a conflict SJT than trainees who focused on differences. The use of applicants' race or gender in the hiring task was dependent on the trainees' focus during training; however, there was no difference between these trainees in their perceptions of a simulated team's processes. This study shows that diversity training can be effective in terms of modifying trainees' reactions, learning, and transfer outcomes and can be further enhanced by the design features, such as trainer characteristics and the training focus.