Food Systems Unlimited Diversity 3rd Annual Training

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Food Systems Unlimited announces our 3rd Annual Diversity Training and partnership with Dr. Lapchik and the University of Central Florida's Team Leadership Institute. Food Systems Unlimited has a strong commitment towards teamwork through Diversity and collaboration.

As a member of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, each college and university is offered the successful and impactful, TEAMWORK Leadership Institute (TLI). Created in 1990 by Dr. Richard Lapchick, Executive Director for the National Consortium for Academics and Sports and former Sport in Society Associate Director, Lin Dawson, TLI provides diversity training to organizations across the United States, focusing mostly on college and university administrations and athletic departments. The mission of TLI is to help senior administrators and athletic department staff, through the provision of diversity training services, to apply the principles of teamwork to all areas of athletic departments. Challenges that stem from cultural prejudice, intolerance and poor communication can be proactively addressed in intelligent, safe and structured ways. Athletic administrators can anticipate, recognize and address the problems inherent to diverse teams and staff. Diversity training is a principle means of assessing and responding to needs within a department and on a campus. Training demonstrates that diverse people have a great deal in common. Rather than being divisive issues, racial, ethnic and gender differences can serve as building blocks that strengthen the department.

Workshops incorporate sports-related material.

The training program, which incorporates a significant amount of sports-related material, includes a variety of exercises and discussion points. Facilitators lead skill-building exercises that focus on self-identity and how we develop stereotypes and prejudice, especially in regards to race and gender. Participants brainstorm ways to challenge stereotypes that interfere with effective teamwork and look at ways athletic departments and student-athletes can provide better understanding on campus. Sports-related videos are shown to stimulate discussion, and there are interactive exercises that prompt workshop participants to voice their opinions on topics. Actual case studies are used from colleges and universities, providing real-life scenarios. The schools, of course, are never named.

Adapting to each organization's needs.

Each workshop is slightly different, depending on the needs of the organization. Some of the needs are discovered through interviews with the department head, and some through a confidential TLI survey, which is distributed prior to the actual workshop. The surveys are analyzed by TLI staff and that information is incorporated into the training curriculum.

The final step of the diversity workshop can be the most important. Workshop participants create an "action plan" to implement programs that enhance racial diversity and reduce gender bias on campus and in their departments.

While TLI has worked mostly with athletic departments at the collegiate level, work has also been done at the professional sport ranks and with private organizations, and the curriculum can be modified for corporations and high schools. The basic ideas do not change, because Lapchick believes the sports metaphor translates well to any organization. Each training workshop is adapted to the specific needs of the group. A special version of TLI training has been designed to meet the needs of NBA front office personnel and coaches. At the start of the 1996-97 season, 80% of the league's players were African-American. Furthermore, the NBA employs a more diverse management and support staff than any other professional sport. This combination of a majority African-American players' group and a substantially diverse workforce make the league a leader in diversity issues in sport. More than 125 college athletic departments have used TLI services.

Email Keith L. Lee for more information or call (407) 823-4770.

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