2, Number 3, May 2002
Towards Inclusion (page 2 of 3)
resolution project staff met its goal of ethnic diversity.
Some were "credentialed" and others were more
informally educated; some were connected to the community
and the streets, while others were connected to money,
power, and knowledge institutions. Three problems were
apparent immediately. 1. People brought very different
perceptions, work styles, and experiences to the implementation
of projects and programs. 2. There was the problem of
power imbalance -- the white folks had most of the CR
tools, computer expertise, and training experience. 3.
People who were new to CR tools and processes simply could
not afford to pay for expensive training and could not
afford to "intern" without getting paid.
What Could Have Happened: These tools could have
stayed in the hands of the dominant culture staff who'd
remain lead trainers while people of color would not move
beyond assisting the white folks. Over time, resentment
and distrust would increase dramatically.
What Did Happen: Experienced practitioners teamed
with people who were long on community experience but
short on formal training in conflict resolution. Everyone
was paid the same salary. New staff practiced and refined
their facilitation and conflict resolution training tools,
both "on the job" and through rehearsal and
video-feedback, and they identified key program development
tasks that they wanted to learn. Everyone learned how
to use computers. Two project staff who were new to this
work now integrate conflict resolution practices into
programs and services that they provide through other
Rule of Thumb #2: Name the power imbalances that
exist and discuss how people feel about them. Make time
to decide together how to close visible and invisible
power gaps. Ensure that the organization validates different
knowledge bases, approaches, and methodologies.
Rule of Thumb #3: Figure out some "creative
financing" so that new staff can be paid as they
learn "on the job." This is an essential step
in diversifying a staff. It may involve some personal
financial sacrifice; for example, experienced trainers
can agree to be paid less or not at all on some projects
so that interns can be paid. An organization may also
agree to turn down projects or grants which don't include
funds for internal staff development and mentoring.
Rule of Thumb #4: Block out time to explore differences
in how staff members communicate and work. New staff members
know you're serious if "getting to know you"
time is paid time. Encourage people to share their idiosyncrasies,
concerns, preferences around language, "buzz words,"
learning and work styles, and assessment and feedback.
Ask people to: a) identify the strengths and resources
that each individual brings to the group; b) discuss aspects
of the work that are easy and fun as well as the parts
that are scary or a drag; c) identify the tools and processes
that each person wants to improve or refine as well as
the kinds of support that will help them become more effective
in these areas. In other words, model in your organization
the process that you seek to model in your training.
full-time national office staff of a professional development
and training organization is white, middle class, and
almost exclusively from one region of the country.
What Could Have Happened: The organization could
continue to lack diversity at all levels.
What Did Happen: The organization has recruited
a diverse board of directors across regions and ethnic
groups. More importantly, the organization includes
many part-time training associates who represent a more
accurate picture of the nation's diversity.
Rule of Thumb #5: Develop a cadre of trainers who
have other part-time and full-time jobs. You can't always
hire the people you'd like to work with on a full-time
basis. But you can create a network of associates who
work three or four times a year. Part-time staff can
strengthen an organization in other ways. When you recruit
people from outside of the field of conflict resolution,
you add "outsider" perspectives that can keep
a vision from getting stale or too precious. Furthermore,
you build the capacity for future collaborations across
grants utilize university expertise and resources
in community efforts to address local problems. In
one case, university extension staff developed a leadership/conflict
resolution/violence prevention project involving young
people from four public housing projects. Full-time
university faculty, who are overwhelmingly white and
male, must participate in the implementation of extension
What Could Have Happened: University faculty,
who may not be comfortable in the "trenches,"
could have presented a program that was too "talky,"
failing to capture the attention and interest of young
What Did Happen: This extension grant was specifically
written with the requirement that local community
organizers and practitioners were project partners.
Rule of Thumb #6: Search out university faculty
or grant sponsors who are willing to be allies with
community people. Identify community people as partners
in grants, allocating sufficient funds to pay them.
You might also agree not to participate in grants
unless community people, teachers, or service providers
are involved in the development and implementation
of the project.
project of Campus Conflict Resolution
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
to CMHE Report
(Attn: Bill Warters)
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources Project
Department of Communication
585 Manoogian Hall
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48201.
send comments, bug reports, etc. to the Editor.
© 2000-2005 William C. Warters & WSU,
All rights reserved.