The Anti-Racism & Learning Technology Community
Dr Monica Chavez, University of Liverpool; Dr Teeroumanee Nadan; Tracey Madden, University of Edinburgh
The most common form of professional development for race equality is normally a one-day training workshop or expert presentation, or a pre-packaged programme or resource (Robb, 2000). As a sub-group, we are especially interested in a community of practice approach for the sharing of tacit knowledge beyond the traditional approaches to CPD. Communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991) embedded in social theories of learning provide a collaborative professional development model ‘where practitioners co-construct knowledge’ (Clarke, 2006, p. 10).
One of the most frequent themes we encounter during our monthly open community meetings are discussions around diversity and teamwork. The benefits of diversity on teamwork and how professional development can support the optimisation of diversity on team dynamics have been extensively discussed in different fields such as organisational psychology and human resource management. According to Mannix & Neale (2005) diversity influences teams in three ways:
- People are attracted to working with and cooperating with those they find similar in terms of values, beliefs, and attitudes
- People tend to categorize themselves into specific groups, and categorize others as outsiders or part of other groups. People treat members of their own group with favoritism, and may judge “others” according to group traits (e.g. stereotyping).
- However, diversity brings different contributions to teams. For example, a broader territory of information and range of networks and perspectives, enhanced problem-solving, creativity, innovation, and adaptability.
The table below from McKinsey’s research on diversity illustrates the case of the benefits of diversity in teamwork.
|Diversity management helps to…||Rationale|
|…win the war for talent||A strong focus on women and ethnic minorities increases the sourcing talent pool, a particular issue in Europe. In a 2012 survey, 40% of companies said skill shortages were the top reason for vacancies in entry-level jobs.|
|…strengthen customer orientation||Women and minority groups are key consumer decision makers: for example, women make 80% of consumer purchases in the UK; gay men and women have average household incomes that are almost 80% higher than average.|
|…increase employee satisfaction||Diversity increases employee satisfaction and reduces conflicts between groups, improving collaboration and loyalty.|
|…improve decision making||Diversity fosters innovation and creativity through a greater variety of problem-solving approaches, perspectives, and ideas. Academic research has shown that diverse groups often outperform experts.|
|…enhance the company’s image||Social responsibility is becoming increasingly important Many countries have legal requirements for diversity (e.g., UK Equality Act 2010).|
The sharing of personal stories around the theme of diversity and teamwork has been a key and highly enriching experience during the monthly open meetings of the community in the last months. Although the community principles clearly outline the expected behaviour from its members (see our first blog post,) we also understand that sharing personal and often difficult stories in a ‘public’ space might make the members even more vulnerable in terms of sharing racially charged incidents and events.
One of the principles of cultivating communities of practice is that, in addition to public communal spaces where knowledge is built and shared, private spaces should be provided for its members. To approach the challenge of supporting and developing colleagues, we have created “Bold Conversations for Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging”. These private spaces embedded in the Anti-Racism & Learning Technology Community aim to support and develop:
- Ethnically diverse colleagues who encounter particular challenges.
- White colleagues who would like to help but don’t know where to start or who to talk to.
- Anyone interested in improving their inclusive practice and doing something to bring about anti-racism in their workplace.
Sign up for our Bold Conversation for Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Launch event to find out more.
Clarke, D. (2006). Communities of practice: A framework for professional development. Proceedings of the 2006 Australian Teacher Education Association Conference (ATEA), Freemantle, Western Australia, 5 July8 July.
Hunt, V., Layton, D., & Prince, S. (2015). Diversity matters. McKinsey & Company, 1(1), 15-29.
Mannix, E., & Neale, M. A. (2005). What differences make a difference? The promise and reality of diverse teams in organizations. Psychological science in the public interest, 6(2), 31.
Robb, L. 2000. Redefining staff development: A collaborative model for teachers and administrators. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann