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Can I refuse to attend my company’s diversity training? Ask HR

Can I refuse to attend my company’s diversity training? Ask HR

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.
 |  Special to USA TODAY
Johnny C. Taylor Jr., a human resources expert, is tackling your questions as part of a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest HR professional society.The questions are submitted by readers, and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.Have a question? Do you have an HR or work-related question you’d like me to answer? Submit it here.Question: My manager just shared that our company will conduct a new diversity training. I’m all for the intention but I’m afraid, given how 2020 is going, it might be too political or even politically biased. Can I refuse to attend? – Anonymousaylor: I’m glad to hear your company is providing diversity training. In a year full of difficult conversations, it’s more important than ever for employers and employees to come together to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.You’re also right about your other point – 2020 has been a contentious year. In fact, 44% of HR professionals report intensified political volatility at work in 2020 compared to previous years.I understand your hesitancy to participate in a program you fear could be politically charged. For us in HR, your response isn’t surprising. After all, we’ve actually been socialized not to talk about politics, religion, or race at work. But in today’s changing landscape, diversity, equity, and inclusion training is one important step to bridging this divide. If the training is done well, these conversations create productive workplace cultures of inclusivity – not incivility.Whether you opt out of diversity training depends on your company and its requirements– but I strongly encourage your attendance. I’m of the firm belief that change requires us to learn from one another and grow in order to create progress in our workplaces –and in the world around us. If you’re still concerned about your upcoming training, touch base with your manager or HR to share your thoughts and to get more information. They might be able to provide you with an agenda and let you know how they plan to handle any potential discord. Should you choose to attend, I hope you find this diversity training not only improves your workplace culture but strengthens your working relationships companywide.Gannett, USA TODAY commit to making workforce as diverse as the USGannett, the owner of USA TODAY and over 260 local news operations, announced an initiative to make its workforce as diverse as the country by 2025.USA TODAYQ: I am on track to graduate next year with a degree in Human Resources. What are some things I should be doing to make my résumé look good for a job in HR? – AnonymousJohnny C. Taylor Jr.: I might be a little biased, but I am happy to hear you’re considering a career in Human Resources! It’s a challenging but rewarding field where you can truly help shape the work and workplaces of the future. In fact, 87% of HR professionals report their work has been especially crucial to their employer since the COVID-19 pandemic began.First, before you fill out any job applications or go on any interviews, I want you to consider this question: Why HR? If you can articulate how you want to impact the workplace in a meaningful way during an interview, you’ll likely be better positioned to secure a job.  More pay: Should I request a raise during the pandemic? Ask HRHoliday party: How do I politely decline during COVID-19? Ask HRWith the above in mind, I have a couple of tips to help bolster your resume and prepare for a future HR career:• If possible, try to attend virtual HR events and training. You do not have to be an HR professional to network or complete programs – many may be open to students like you. Not only can you get a wealth of information, but this is a fantastic way to start building connections and solidifying your network within the HR community – giving you a competitive edge over other recent graduates.• Think of any HR-related activities or previous work experience that may have aligned with HR that you can list on your résumé – for example, any jobs where you worked with other people. Coaching, customer service, or volunteer work could be applicable.• On your résumé, list any relevant courses taken or student/professional groups you belong to that include transferable skills or knowledge that applies to HR. I also recommend taking advantage of everything professional groups and student societies have to offer, and many host career fairs, professional development training, and networking opportunities.• If you haven’t already, start looking into HR internships, if feasible. There are some great, roll-up-your-sleeves opportunities to get your foot in the door and see if you enjoy working in the HR field.• Additionally, consider working toward a certification. After getting a year or two of experience under your belt post-college, new HR professionals can obtain the SHRM-CP designation. It alerts employers that you understand HR and can help your organization break down complex HR issues.As I write this, I also want to share something I’ve learned along the way: Many people think HR is intuitive – that everyone can do it. But the reality is, HR is a science and an art. As you start your career, I hope you take the time to learn the ins and outs of HR. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation, and I wish you luck in finding a job that’s a good fit for you!

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