Rapidly changing demographics and globalization has spurred a plurality of organizations to invest millions of dollars annually in diversity training, with the primary aim of improving the experiences of underrepresented employees. However, the results of diversity training to date have not proven encouraging. Positive outcomes of diversity training have generally been confined to increased awareness and improved attitudes towards diversity, with implicit and explicit prejudice and behavior remaining unchanged. The aim of this study was to understand the transformational learning experiences of participants in a non-traditional diversity training program and the impact of their transformational learning on their behavior.

A phenomenological embedded case study design was employed. Data was collected through semi structured qualitative interviews. A pilot study of two participants was conducted to preview the interview protocol and strengthen the main study design. The main study was conducted with eight participants and also included the two pilot interviews for a total of 10 participants. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to analyze the data from all ten participants. Results revealed the value of incorporating an interdisciplinary approach and transformative learning design in diversity training in order to impact affective and behavioral outcomes.

Findings from the study provided practical implications for diversity and inclusion in HRD and for higher education practitioners, managers, and leaders as they seek to engage and empower a workforce that is global, multicultural, and interdependent. Contributions and implications for theory and future research, drawn from the findings of the study, are discussed.

Date of publication

Spring 5-17-2017

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Andrea Ellinger, Rochell McWhorter, Placida Gallegos, Jerry Gilley


Ph.D Human Resource Development