One of my greatest diversity training challenges started when I was asked to train a group of employees from four different cultures and four different languages in Manama, Bahrain. I must admit I was nervous. I have trained in many countries overseas, but never to such a diverse audience where English is a distant second language to many of the training participants.
I am well aware that many international training participants are very nervous when they are told they have to attend a English based training; after all, they are more comfortable speaking in their own language. So my first challenge was design a diversity and inclusion training that used exercises to teach diversity and teamwork. After I designed the exercises, I still grappled with the challenge to have the training participants immediately enter into a diverse and inclusive training environment. Enter the multicultural teamwork tent card.
I wanted to training participants know their culture and language was recognized so I directed the Manama client to create tent cards that listed all of the languages used in their workplace on the front of the card next to their name. If the participant was bi-lingual, they were free to check off more than one language. The training participants loved it because they felt that they did not have to leave their culture and language “at the door”. They knew the diversity training was an English based training, but it meant a lot for them to put a check mark next to their native language.
I also wanted to give them the ability to non-verbally express their interpretation of teamwork on their tent card; so I designed the back of the tent card give the participants space to draw a picture of teamwork. Again, this encouraged the participant to incorporate their culture into their tent card. Their drawings were wonderfully insightful and we had so much fun listening to the teamwork stories behind some of the drawings. The laughter started out the class well, after all laughter is the same in any language. Plus, when you laugh, you learn.
In this case, the tent card was more than a card with a name, it was a critical diversity and inclusion tool.
Thank you for reading!
Eric L. Guthrie, Esq.
Certified Director of Training
Certified Diversity Executive