DDFR & Diversity: Can We All Just Get Along?

From the Lee Herald, Naples, FLRecent tragic events have called to mind the wise words of the late Rodney King, reminding us that violence is not the antidote to violence. As we look forward to the aftermath of this latest cycle of hurt, pain and trauma, there are already the usual calls for rooting out implicit biases, confronting white privilege, increased diversity training, more inclusive hiring policies, etc.

But are these the best solutions to what ails our wounded collective psyche? We’ve been doing these very things for many years…will more of the same lead to better outcomes?

The Promise of Diversity & Inclusion Has Not Been Realized

There has been a lot of research lately on the effectiveness of traditional Diversity & Inclusion practices.

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The Harvard Business Review, especially, has concluded that after 40 years of trying, the Diversity Paradigm has failed. In a series of articles, researchers have found:



Why Diversity Programs Fail

Decades of social science research point to a simple truth: You won’t get [people] on board by blaming and shaming them with rules and regulations.

Culture Is Not The Culprit

Culture isn’t something you “fix.” …cultural change is what you get after you’ve put new processes or structures in place to tackle tough…challenges…the culture evolves as you do that important work.

Diversity Training Doesn’t Work.

study of 829 companies over 31 years showed that diversity training had “no positive effects in the average workplace.”  In firms where training is mandatory or emphasizes the threat of lawsuits, training actually has negative effects on management diversity.

Across the spectrum, there is a rising flood of evidence hitting on this same theme that Diversity & Inclusion as it has been practiced has largely failed:

Psychology Today,

Diversity training doesn’t extinguish prejudice. It promotes it.


The goal of most…diversity programs is simple: to increase the percentages of certain minorities in the overall employee pool to mirror the country as a whole.  It’s a misguided approach, even when it comes with programs designed to help retain minorities that have been hired. 


Unfortunately, there is very little evidence that educating people about biases does anything to reduce their influence.

Bias Researcher

Dr. Anthony Greenwald

Unconscious Bias Cannot Be Eradicated

Blaming & shaming, making people confront their white privilege, trying to change cognitive bias at the organizational level, trying to change the way people think on the level of implicit bias…none of these traditional interventions have worked to end discrimination. In fact, Dr. Anthony Greenwald, professor of psychology at the University of Washington and a pioneer in bias psychology, makes the crucial observation that implicit bias is only one of many forms of unintentional discrimination, and that:

“It’s very difficult to prevent unintended discrimination… [and the changes necessary to do so] require institutional changes that are just not about to happen…that almost no one is motivated to do…we are not going to undo the social status hierarchies … that produce accumulating advantages and disadvantages …we’re not going to change the mass media content…and unfortunately, we don’t yet know how to undo implicit biases.”

Diversity Training Pioneer

R. Roosevelt Thomas

The late R. Roosevelt Thomas, a former Harvard Business School Professor and a pioneer in diversity management in the workplace, wrote that the field of “diversity” is stuck, cycling between managing Workforce Representation (efforts to assure that an organization’s workforce’s numerical profile mirrors that of society with respect to race, ethnicity and gender) and managing Workforce Relationships (efforts to assure harmonious, fair, non-discriminatory relationships among workforce participants.) As a consequence, leaders were missing out on the real value of diversity:

“…the true essence of “diversity,” and indeed, the key to sustainability …is creating an environment that empowers all members … to contribute to their full potential. …. Rather than go through deep, fundamental change, leaders often prefer to use band-aids. ..[i.e.] cultural celebrations, mentoring that instructs on how to fit in, training that leaves culture unchanged, or affinity groups that enhance organizational experiences for members with little or no change to the enterprise.”

What Actions Will Really Help Us All Get Along?

This is where Digital Diaspora Family Reunion can make a critical difference.

We say, now more than ever, we need to radically change the visual narrative of what it means to be American, of what an inclusive society looks like. We need to engage in a meta-dialogue about what really matters, who we really are, how we really see ourselves and what our shared values, common experiences and essential humanity truly are. Because these are the ties that bind us all together as one people, one race…the Human Race.


DDFR Training Session

DDFR is Radical, Subversive and Simple

What makes Digital Diaspora Family Reunion (DDFR) different is that it does not set out to change the world, change the way people think or preach, cajole, persuade, blame or shame anyone into doing anything…all we ask is: What matters most to You? Share a photo with us. Show us an image that means something to you and tell us why?


That radical, subversive and simple approach allows DDFR to thus become all things to all people. They come to our live events and public performances and interact with others who are also sharing their stories and images and in that small way…big things happen. Light bulbs go off. People “see” themselves in subtle, different ways. They “see” people they don’t know, and frankly would never have met, in new, meaningful ways. People find common cause, shared linkages, intimate values centered around the very people they love, admire and respect…their families…and a new extended family of fellow travelers within the DDFR community. DDFR really does impact hearts & minds…for the better.

DDFR Collage 2016

We provide a highly effective methodology for engendering community, building a safe space where individual narratives can be shared in intimate ways, in order for participants to discover their own connections with their peers and colleagues. Since 2009, we have been helping to transform strangers into family and bridge the artificial divides of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity; creating an inter-generational and cross-cultural conversation where people connect heart-to-heart, changing how we see each ourselves and The Other.

Let’s have a conversation about what DDFR can do

…for your team, your office, your company, your school, your college, your institution, your block, your neighborhood, your community, your city. Together, let us help answer the question

“Can we all get along?”

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