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Home > News > July 2004 > 26-Jul-2004

Apples and art helping diversity training

Apples, shop mannequins, bus stops and Leeds Art Gallery are just a few of the tools Leeds-based igen has used to develop a novel training programme for its staff to raise awareness of the region’s diverse culture – encouraging people to look beyond visual first impressions.

In light of recent and forthcoming legislation to facilitate equality and diversity in the workplace, career and personal development services company, igen, is aiming to heighten awareness of the subject through a number of creative exercises.

The scheme, branded 'Diversity Awareness', was praised after it was presented at the International HR Conference in Limerick this summer.

"The whole issue of diversity is at the forefront of most peoples’ minds and igen’s eighty personal advisors constantly help young people from a range of cultures and backgrounds", said Ian Wood, training and staff development manager at igen. "Consequently, we have developed our innovative training scheme to ensure the subject is reinforced in a fun and interesting way. We recently showcased our work at the annual International HR Conference in Limerick, which was attended by representatives from 200 organisations."

The unique day-long training sessions begin in igen’s offices with simple tasks to help participants define the meaning of diversity, using description and identification of everyday objects like apples.

The next stage moves onto the streets with a visit to Leeds Art Gallery, where trainees stop to discuss bus stop advertising and shop window displays, describing their opinions on the ethnicity, religion and sexuality of men and women featured in the images.

At the gallery, learners split into three groups to look at specific works of art, which show a range of different individuals from all backgrounds. The learners are asked to envisage the beliefs and favourite conversation topics of the portrayed person – they are then invited to share their views with the other groups for comparison.

The 'Diversity Awareness' programme is due to be presented at an international conference on creativity in management this September in Paris.

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