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Home > News > January 2007 > 25 January 2007

Audit Commission takes dramatic approach to learning

Drama-based learning company Steps Drama is helping the Audit Commission promote diversity by co-delivering a training workshop called Managing Change for Diversity & Equality.

The workshop combines presentations from senior managers at the Audit Commission with drama scenarios, delivered and facilitated by Steps, that are designed to bring the issues to life.

The programme has been delivered 32 times at locations throughout England, with around 30 Audit Commission staff attending each session.

"We're using these workshops to actively promote diversity and to help create an inclusive environment that respects and values difference," said Loraine Martins, head of diversity at the Audit Commission. "We needed an organisation with a knowledge of diversity and organisational development, which could help us to refine our thinking and create enjoyable and thought-provoking sessions."

A senior manager from the Audit Commission introduces the workshop and outlines the importance of the training and how diversity and respect fit into the context of the organisation.

Three actor-facilitators from Steps run an initial drama scenario, portraying employees in a parallel workplace who have narrow views and negative attitudes to issues such as work-life-balance, sexual orientation and disability. The delegates, as a group, question each character and give advice on how they might change their behaviour in the future.

After facilitating a discussion exercise exploring the scope of diversity, Steps deliver three additional drama scenarios, depicting issues around racial insensitivity, sexual orientation and bullying.

After the drama scenarios, the delegates work in small groups to discuss what they, as individuals, can do to foster a culture that embraces diversity and respect. They then agree a series of actions that their team or directorate will undertake to bring about a cultural change. The Steps facilitator contacts a spokesperson for each cohort, three months after the workshop, to discuss the group's progress in implementing its action plan.

"We encourage the delegates to take ownership of the need to influence and promote a culture of diversity, equality and respect," said Robbie Swales, director of Steps Drama. "Each group commits to an action plan and we follow up to ensure the groups are on track with their intentions."

Loraine Martins added: "Steps have a refreshing approach to drama and this is particularly effective because it actively engages the delegates and gets them thinking about the issues and the underlying challenges. Feedback shows that the workshop has been very successful in raising awareness and creating a greater understanding of diversity."

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