Discrimination means treating someone worse because of their age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, or other characteristics. In the workplace, this can mean workers are overlooked for promotions, not hired, or face cruel comments while doing their jobs.
A number of U.S. laws specifically make workplace discrimination illegal. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals because of their religion, color, race, sex, or country of origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their age if they are 40 or older. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) prohibits employers from paying men and women different wages for equal work. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it illegal to discriminate against qualified workers because they are living with a disability.
With these and other laws making discrimination illegal, you’d think it was a solved problem. You’d be wrong. Close to 60% of American workers report they have seen or experienced discrimination in the workplace.
Anti-discrimination training works to address this issue.
What Is Anti-Discrimination Training for Employees?
Employees don’t set out to act in a discriminatory way. Some workers aren’t aware of the laws or how to apply them at their job. And all of us have unconscious biases, which can be fed by media portrayals, movies, and the content we consume.
Many workplaces begin by creating anti-discrimination policies. These documents outline what is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace and set disciplinary measures for anyone who breaks the rules.
Policies are a great place to start because they define and set expectations, but on their own they’re usually not enough. Workers might not always read, remember, or understand these policies. They might not know how to apply concepts in a policy to the work they do every day.
Combining robust anti-discrimination policies with anti-discrimination training gives your teams the tools they need to create a more inviting workplace. Training builds on policies, making them actionable. It can show workers examples and even give them a chance to act out different scenarios so they can explore how to react to discrimination. This type of training teaches workers several things.
- Relevant anti-discrimination laws & how to apply them in the workplace
- What language is most inclusive
- How to spot discrimination & how to report it
- Embracing diversity
- Organization-specific anti-discrimination policies
- How to recognize, avoid, & address microaggressions
- What unconscious bias is & how to address it
- Why discrimination happens
- How to manage unwanted behaviors
- How to embrace more empathetic listening styles
Getting Anti-Discrimination Training Right
There’s no one-size-fits-all magic formula for anti-discrimination training in the workplace. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it is possible to create training that is supportive and engaging, so it helps your team make better decisions.
Start With Metrics
To get the best outcome from training, you’ll want to set goals for what you want your employees to learn. And to know what they need to learn, you first need to analyze what they don’t know.
Anonymous surveys and other data-gathering tools let you find out whether your workers are seeing bullying or discrimination in the workplace. It lets you determine which employees are most likely to experience discrimination and therefore what kinds of anti-discrimination training should be a top priority.
Offer Multifaceted Learning
Even if metrics show that your company needs training that addresses ageism the most, for example, it pays to offer a range of training experiences. In addition to anti-discrimination training about specific types of discrimination, you might want to offer DEI training more generally, classes on more inclusive communication, and other types of training.
Offering a variety of experiences in learning helps your employees connect the dots and address all kinds of discrimination when they see it. Some of the concepts also overlap, allowing your workers to revisit and reinforce what they’re learning.
When offering training, look for different types of learning as well as different subjects of study. Offer video courses, in-person discussions, and self-paced programs. Team up employees to have them practice what they learn. Since everyone learns differently, using many different approaches to study helps people really retain and understand each idea.
Create a Learning Culture
A learning culture is one where workers are open to finding out more. In this type of workplace, anti-discrimination training and other types of learning aren’t one-time events. Instead, learning becomes an ongoing process — one that everyone in the organization takes part in and takes responsibility for.
So how can you create a learning culture at your company, so you and your team can continue to learn together and grow? Here are a few ideas.
- Encourage regular discussions about what you’ve been learning in anti-discrimination training
- Be transparent about what team members at all levels of the organization are learning
- Allow leaders to express their commitment to learning & their gaps in knowledge
- Ask questions & normalize the process of seeking more information
- Make it clear that it’s OK to not know something & to learn more
- Have different options for learning, such as formal training, lessons, book clubs, & lunch & learn sessions about discrimination & related topics
- Bring in experts & share resources such as websites & articles about discrimination & DEI in the workplace
- Reward & recognize workers for showing commitment to learning
Work With a Trusted Partner
Developing your own DEI training or inclusion training can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never created a lesson before. What should you teach? How can you organize the information to make sure your team pays attention? Fortunately, you don’t have to try and become an instructional designer yourself. There are solutions like Diversio that can guide your team in learning.
If you’re looking for solutions in anti-discrimination and DEI training, Diversio is a leader in this field. We’ve developed the world’s first AI-powered DEI Platform and a data-informed suite of solutions to help you. We gather, analyze, and benchmark data so you understand where the gaps are, allowing you to focus on training in specific areas.
Our training solutions for your team make training accessible and engaging. Diversio Academy offers customizable learning for your company, so your executives, managers, HR professionals, and employees all get the specific training they need. Identify your areas of focus, target the topics you need to cover, and start learning with professionally designed, bespoke training plans.
See for yourself what Diversio can do. Schedule a demo today.