aren Stinson, Founder and CEO of Minneapolis-based ProGroup Inc.,
began her diversity training and consulting firm in 1986 with one goal in mind: to give workers from diverse backgrounds the support they need not only to succeed, but to feel respected, valued, and appreciated. In turn, she’s helped mega-companies like American Express, Target, and General Mills educate all their employees about tolerance and discrimination issues in the workplace and improve their corporate cultures along the way. Surely the positive aspects of increased recognition and understanding on the job influence the way formerly alienated workers feel about themselves. Meanwhile, those who attend ProGroup-sponsored training, read their materials, or simply hear about various forms of discrimination gain new insights that very likely influence the way they treat others at work and elsewhere. As Stinson puts it,
“We’ve changed hundreds of thousands of people’s lives.”
ProGroup offers a variety of services to help companies offer coaching, mentoring, training, electronic solutions, and innovative cultural audits designed to identify and address diversity issues in the workplace. Products offered include posters and books that target specific areas of concern. Resources such as 101 Ways to Celebrate Diversity, Religion in the Workplace,
and Do’s and Taboos Around the World for Women in Business
can be of use to individuals as well as organizations.
For effective and efficient on-line diversity training, consider “The Lobby,” ProGroup’s innovative “diversity courseware.” “The Lobby” helps participants identify their own biases, recognize how such biases impact their current interactions with other people, and learn skills to combat such biases and their impact on future interactions. Pretty nifty stuff.
I originally found the ProGroup site after reading about their annual Diversity Calendar.
Offered in print and on-line versions, this calendar is designed to help employers recognize “what’s important” to everyone in their organizations by highlighting religious and secular holidays celebrated around the world. The Diversity Calendar features an index divided by religion, culture, and country, as well as helpful tips on how to appropriately recognize all the holidays featured. Anyone interested in increasing awareness of diverse cultures could put this calendar to good use. If this one tool reflects the insights offered by ProGroup’s various other products and services, executives across the country would do well to consider how ProGroup could help them. Awareness is one thing; Karen Stinson and her co-workers at ProGroup seem to share a vision not only to raise awareness of diversity issues, but to give corporate leaders the tools they need to address these issues and include their employees in this important process.
“I believe in this,” Stinson states. And I’m happy to help spread the word.