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Actors have dramatic impact on attitudes

Actors do not usually appear at in-service training, but they certainly make an impact.

"The approach was novel," said management studies tutor Bruce Smith. "It was the first time I'd seen that, and because it was different it was very effective."

Ionann Management Consultants' actors, from a variety of ethnic groups, role play work situations to staff. After each sketch, employees discuss the issues in groups of people they do not normally work with.

The day began with a scenario in a staffroom, where lecturers were wondering why they needed to waste time on diversity training when they knew all about it already. This made it clear that the scenarios would deal with everyday issues, said Mr Smith, and most were about attitudes.

Trainers agree that diversity can be a difficult subject. Some of the participants may have had personal and humiliating experiences they find hard to be open about with colleagues. But a play performed by outside professionals can be a good starting point for discussion.

"It's a delicate area and people are wary of expressing an opinion," said Mr Smith. "The role-play was very entertaining and it gave everybody common ground. You're not talking about your own experience, so that took some of the sting out of it."

He was also interested in the way Ionann delivered their material. "Most people I've talked to have appreciated it very much. It's made me think about how I'm going to handle these issues as a tutor in class, it's a good way of generating discussion."

The management studies team already use role play, and as a result of the training, Mr Smith is now considering using case studies and videos.

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