Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training for employee morale in workplaces has become an important part of many DEI strategies. This training can help address unconscious bias, help companies create more inclusive workplaces, and give teams actionable ways to support each other at work.
While training can be good for DEI, can this training impact worker performance and morale?
Analyzing the Impact of DEI Training on Employee Performance
In theory, DEI training should be able to improve employee performance. Learning to use accessible technology such as voice recognition, for example, can not only help employees living with disabilities do their jobs, but it can also help all workers who type or process information to do their jobs more effectively.
DEI training can also help make more workers feel more comfortable in the workplace, in theory by reducing microaggressions and prejudice at work. This could make workers more empowered to speak up and contribute, which could improve productivity and performance overall.
Finally, DEI training is important for employees because its lessons go beyond diversity and inclusion. In these classes, learners gain speaking, listening, and communication skills as they learn to create a more inclusive workplace. These same skills are essential for workplace performance overall and can be used every day at work.
How does DEI training impacts employee performance?
More research needs to be done about how DEI training impacts employee performance, but some studies do suggest this training can help employees improve:
- There is a positive correlation between diverse & inclusive workplace cultures & financial performance. Gartner reported that 75% of organizations with diverse teams surpass their financial targets.
- A study presented at the International Conference on Management & Economics at the University of Ruhuna examined research that involved handing out over 120 surveys to determine the effects of workplace diversity on employee diversity. Researchers concluded that diversity in workplaces has a “positive & significant impact” on employee performance.
- Another study published in the Journal of Management Info examined the impact of diversity on workplaces in the higher education sector. Researchers concluded that high gender, age, & education diversity in these workplaces produced “a positive & moderate relationship” with employee performance.
- The Harvard Business Review examined DEI bias-focused training & concluded such training had a positive impact on workers with unconscious bias against women. After training, these employees were more likely to understand gender-based discrimination & to support initiatives to address such discrimination.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Training for Employee Morale
In theory, DEI training should boost employee morale. After all, it can make workers feel more able to speak up when they see or experience discrimination. It also shows a company cares about making employees feel included. This should make workers feel more confident and valued.
Diversity and inclusion training can improve inclusion in the workplace and this has been shown to have a positive impact on employee satisfaction and morale. For example, one study of 92 workgroups found that “social category diversity positively influenced group member morale.”
Some studies, though, have shown that some types of diversity and inclusion training can have a less-positive impact on employee morale. Researchers writing for the Harvard Business Review, for example, concluded that mandatory DEI training, especially, can potentially have a negative impact on employee morale, sometimes leading to “defensiveness.”
Essentially, some types of training, may make workers feel lectured to. It can make workers feel like they’re in the wrong, even when they act with good intentions. Instead of making employees feel enabled to take positive steps, some types of training can make workers feel like they’re saying or doing the wrong thing.
Implementing Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Training for Employee Morale
There are things organizations can do to make DEI training a positive experience that improves team morale and performance:
Don’t just rely on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion training for employee morale.
One study found that training can become more effective when it “was complemented by other diversity initiatives, targeted to both awareness & skills development, & conducted over a significant period of time.” DEI strategy at your company & an ongoing commitment to diversity & equity shows your team that your DEI journey is here to stay. It also gives workers many options for joining the effort.
Make all DEI trainings voluntary.
As the Harvard Business Review study found, mandatory training in particular was linked to resentment. By allowing workers to choose which training, if any, to attend, organizations get learners who are eager to learn. Companies with voluntary DEI training also let employees join DEI efforts at their own pace when they’re ready to make a contribution & are open to learning. There may be some legally required training—some jurisdictions have made sexual harassment training mandatory for some organizations, for example, and California as well as other locations may require anti-discrimination training—but where it’s not legally required try to keep it voluntary.
Make DEI training diverse.
Consider enabling learning opportunities among different levels of an organization, from leadership to casual leaders. Where possible, make each learning experience a diverse mix of people from different backgrounds with different lived experiences. Diversity allows training sessions to access different viewpoints. Writing in The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf interviews a reader who talks about the importance of diversity in training, not just training about diversity: “There is a difference between hearing, say, about the importance of pronoun use from a nonbinary employee as compared to a training module. A discussion about labels with a diverse set of employees drives home the message that the “correct” term for a person can’t just be looked up”
Choose the right Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion training for employee morale.
Consider DEI goals & what sort of training teams want before selecting training. Ensure training comes from experienced instructors or a company experienced in offering engaging training. Look for training that goes beyond theory & into practical action. Learning that includes practice & real-life examples can help team members learn to implement what they’ve learned.
How Diversio Can Help
You don’t have to develop a learning strategy from scratch. Diversio is a people-first, metrics-driven DEI solution. Our DEI training for managers, leadership, and everyone at your organization is designed to help your teams get practical insights and actionable best practices about data collection, inclusivity, recruiting, and workplace culture.
The Diversio suite of training can tackle unconscious bias in the workplace, allyship, workplace flexibility, and more. If an organization needs a public-facing way to show its commitment to DEI training, Diversio also offers Diversio Certification.
Diversio is about more than training, too. We help companies gather, analyze, and benchmark DEI metrics and then act on their findings. We’re a trusted business partner for portfolios, government agencies, and organizations of all sizes, supporting leaders and teams on their journey toward measurable DEI progress.
Find out for yourself what working with us is like. Schedule a demo today to experience our AI-powered DEI solution.