Diversity and inclusion training is fundamental to your businesses’ success. Effective implementation of D&I initiatives leads to improved equality and better relationships among stakeholders, transforming your business from basic to remarkable. Knowing how to effectively assess and implement corporate diversity training programs requires professional expertise and guidance.
D&I requires a commitment to incorporating diversity as part of your businesses’ culture through regular diversity training practices. Building an awareness of the experiences of marginalized workforce populations as related to their role in the workplace is key to successful diversity training. Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of the do’s and don’ts of an effective diversity training program.
Why Does Diversity and Inclusion Training in the Workplace Matter?
Diversity and inclusion training in the workplace can result in thriving employees experiencing a diverse environment characterized by tolerance and respect. This can be achieved by increasing your employees’ knowledge and awareness of cultural, religious, or racial differences. D&I training empowers underrepresented workgroup members to voice their ideas while delivering information about how a person can change their behavior to be more inclusive.
Actively doing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work benefits all aspects of your company. Facilitating a greater appreciation of diversity and inclusion leads to greater employee retention, collaboration, and communication. Empowered employees lead to better customer satisfaction and loyalty. When underrepresented groups feel more valued and respected, it also motivates the driving forces that make a business successful including innovation, creativity, resilience, and engagement. And values-based consumerism means people scrutinize companies more to see if they are supporting businesses that are committed to their DEI initiatives.
These aren’t just ideas. There’s concrete data to back up these notions. Organizations with valued diverse workforces have been found to be “35% more likely to have above-average profit margins than companies with more homogenous employee bases.” This is because diverse employee bases are able to collaborate to offer unique solutions to modern global challenges under a successful DEI framework.
What Does Good Corporate Diversity Training Look Like?
Legislative policies resulting from decades of civil rights movements have helped make significant strides in implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives across various industries. Still, covert prejudiced practices that are less visible, like implicit bias, pose a challenge to a company’s ability to evaluate whether or not it has improved its diversity and inclusion efforts. To combat this issue, leadership must make a conscientious effort to make the invisible visible. They can do this by creating a more welcoming workplace by giving a voice to people who are often underrepresented.
It also means addressing workplace inequities shaped by experiences and perceptions of dominant workforce group members. This can be challenging as it requires a personal analysis of an individual’s value system. At best, group members of the dominant work population are able to reconcile implicit biases or prejudiced beliefs, developing their emotional intelligence.
Addressing workplace inequities leads to relationship-building among team members and a greater appreciation for the unique hardships that have shaped workplace experiences for marginalized group members. On the other hand, careless implementation of diversity and inclusion training can backfire, worsening perceptions of minority group members. That is why the way diversity and training programs are structured is crucial to their successful implementation.
An effective diversity and inclusion program operates under a transparent and positive environment. Employees should feel uplifted by DEI initiatives. Conversations around diversity and inclusion should become a normalized and regular part of company culture. This means that the discussions surrounding D&I are continuous; not a one-and-done, once-a-year initiative. It means supporting continual learning with a series of workshops, events, and celebrations. It means facilitating employee engagement with DEI initiatives through positive reinforcement.
Celebrating DEI requires continuous reflection and reapplication for company stakeholders. Diversio’s approach to DEI helps your business track where progress has been made and acknowledge which areas can improve through thoughtful continuous efforts.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach as each company’s needs will be unique according to the diverse makeup of their workforce population. Your D&I program should be tailored to your company’s specific needs. It should also draw from solutions with a proven track record that have been implemented across parallel industries.
Use an integrated approach when facilitating diversity and inclusion training. Recognize there are multiple ways to learn new information and employees respond differently to various forms of training. Engagement can occur in the form of lectures, discussions, and exercises. Offset cognitive dissonance, over-saturation of absorbing new information, and boredom by breaking down training into a series of sessions.
Foster marginalized work population group members by providing more access to mentorship programs and other opportunities that act as a conduit for continual learning. Ingrain DEI practices into your onboarding process for new employees to demonstrate it is a regular part of company culture. Use role-plays and real-life scenarios to make D&I training applicable and relatable. Utilize technology for games and e-learning to reinforce learning through another method of instruction. Your goal is to increase employee engagement to achieve greater retention of information using a hybrid approach with follow-ups and revisions.
From lower-level employees to senior leadership, set the expectation that D&I initiatives are the norm across departments at all levels. When leadership participates, it models that the company is committed in its approach to implementing its DEI initiatives and that no one is beyond learning to improve.
Invest in expert consultation. You may want to look internally to see if someone fits the bill for your company’s DEI coach. While you may have specific departments dedicated to improving diversity and inclusion, bringing in an independent consultant who can provide an outside perspective will lend more credibility to your efforts.
Does Diversity and Inclusion Training Actually Work?
Diversity training can be seen as “fluff” with not enough significant impact for the work required to make the implementation of DEI initiatives successful. Companies with diversity training programs may still find it challenging to measure their efficacy. Diversity training can call into question how a person views their own character or moral compass, which can trigger a defensive response. In order for D&I training to succeed, there are some things it should avoid. This includes:
- Dropping unrealistic expectations that D&I training will provide participants with a cure-all immunization against unconscious or implicit bias. Instead, encourage employees to tolerate differences and embrace diverse perspectives to learn how to work well with colleagues. Expect for some employees to experience cognitive dissonance when introduced to new information. Have professional support available to conduct appropriate training and provide follow up.
- Not using training as a form of punishment. Training should be a response, not a reaction to workplace prejudice. Take a proactive approach that lays a structural foundation that prepares to handle conflict when it arises. Ensure training is not initiated as a form of punishment or remediation for failing to meet expectations.
- Understanding that language is a tool and the way it is used matters. Language that is a list of negative consequences does not uplift employee morale. This could also deter employees from engaging in DEI learning. If training is mandatory, focus on using language that reflects that this is a collective effort and highlights the rewards. Use positive narration instead of singling-out negative behaviors to encourage what you want to see. Role playing can be engaging for some, while others may prefer an e-learning platform. Let people have options to receive the message in more than one way.
- Knowing that you don’t have to do this on your own. Using Diversio’s dashboard can guide you to the most effective DEI solutions for your specific business. You can also bring in a professional, third-party consultant who can offer a methodical approach and unbiased perspective. Diversio offers training and certification programs that can keep your business on track to successfully implement its DEI initiatives.
Diversio Corporate Diversity Training
DEI work is rewarding for all stakeholders, but it does require a committed effort of continuous evaluation, reflection, and practice. Part of that commitment means facilitating training programs, events, and celebrations that positively reinforce the DEI landscape and can be tracked over time. A good diversity training program should provide clear, easy-to-implement solutions that address barriers at the individual, structural, and systemic level to create an effective DEI framework.
Diversio’s solutions-based diversity training program simplifies the process of collecting qualitative data while establishing employee buy-in using an anonymous 4-minute survey linked to six KPIs. Language-intelligent technology is then used to analyze data to provide you with recommendations and training programs that reflect the diverse makeup that is unique to your company. Diversio’s tools allow companies to easily track the efficacy of its DEI implementation initiatives.
Our services feature a user-friendly dashboard of recommendations that can be implemented immediately in alignment with our follow-up training and certification programs. Request a demo to find out more about how our people intelligence platform helps companies of all sizes measure, track, and improve diversity and inclusion to drive meaningful change.