Coaching Tools

Using the Diversity Awareness Ladder in Coaching

Like so many tools and techniques in coaching, the diversity awareness ladder comes from the world of mentoring. Now widely used in diversity training, the ladder was created in the mid-1990s to support large scale diversity management programmes in the UK National Health Service and other, mainly public sector organisations, including the police.

The principle behind the diversity awareness ladder is that, even we avoid talking to someone we see as different, there is still an internal conversation taking place, mostly unconsciously. To give a personal example, quite a few years ago, I was at an HR conference, with a large exhibition attached to it. In a prominent place within the exhibition was a stand for a publisher for the LGTB community.

I made a mental note to talk to them about a mentoring project I had learned about in the US, involving professional people, who were also gay. I had walked through the hall several times before I realised I was about to do so again without stopping at this stand – indeed, I had unconsciously chosen routes that would not bring me immediately past it.

Here’s what happened next:

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