Sensitivity Trainer Comments on USDA Sensitivity Training Controversy

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Experienced sensitivity trainer comments on the recent criticism of sensitivity training at the USDA. Dr. Deena Pargman, Ph.D. of DB Pargman Consulting LLC defends the role of sensitivity training in the federal workplace yet highlights how effective and appropriate sensitivity training programs may differ from what was revealed in USDA training videos.

The bottom line is it’s about the bottom line. An organization, be it a private company or a government agency, should invest in Sensitivity Training because it helps increase worker productivity and avoid costs of complaints and litigation.

Dr. Deena Pargman, Ph.D. founder and CEO of DB Pargman Consulting LLC, the national HR consulting firm specializing in Sensitivity and Anti-Harassment training, comments on the recent controversy surrounding Sensitivity Training at the United States Department of Agriculture.

Her comments, published this week on the Sensitivity Training Skills blog, respond to criticism concerning the mandatory nature, the expense to taxpayers, and the content of parts of the USDA training revealed in videos obtained by through a FOIA request.

“The bottom line is that it’s about the bottom line. An organization, be it a private company or a government agency, should invest in Sensitivity Training because developing interpersonal skills relating to the various backgrounds and experiences of people in the modern workplace contributes to worker productivity and helps avoid the costly distractions of litigation and complaints,” says Dr. Pargman. “Sensitivity training is risk management and loss prevention – and therefore an important investment.”

Dr. Pargman argues that quality Sensitivity Training programs are a legitimate mandatory requirement of employment. According to Dr. Pargman, required attendance is the right call because it communicates a clear message of the company’s values and expectations, and helps the organization to avail itself of legal protections. She points out the costs of training are a small investment compared to the legal fees, lost management and executive time, and lowered morale associated with harassment complaints and litigation.

Dr. Pargman distinguishes the content of her company’s programs from some of the messages contained in the USDA training. “I do not wish to malign the USDA program that I have not had the benefit of experiencing myself, but from what I can see in the videos, our Sensitivity Training programs are different: we would not focus on whether our founding fathers stole a government system from Native Americans, what debts of gratitude may or may not be due to a certain ethnic group, or the immigration status of the pilgrims.”

She distinguishes DB Pargman Consulting's programs as having a focus on legal and policy requirements and building interpersonal and conflict avoidance and resolution skills. “Our programs are about the facts, the law, and the skills” she says, “it’s not X Group Awareness Day or Y History Month.”

Dr. Pargman was not involved in the USDA training. Her comments in a series of blog posts were made as a subject matter expert third party observer with 13 years experience in providing sensitivity training programs to public and private companies and federal agencies.

DB Pargman Consulting LLC is a leading specialized provider of One-to-One Executive Sensitivity Training and Group Diversity & Sensitivity Training. When an organization and its Key People face conflicts, accusations, or potential litigation relating to diversity or sensitivity issues, DB Pargman provides prompt and remedial responses that meet expectations of legal compliance, and perhaps more importantly, restore and enhance the performance of Key People. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, DB Pargman serves a national client base of businesses, educational institutions, and governmental agencies. DB Pargman Consulting LLC is a federal GSA Schedule Contract Holder. More information at

Ben Pargman

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