What is Diversity and Inclusion Training?
What went wrong? Diversity and inclusion training is designed to make people more responsive to the people they work for, make companies more diverse, and help them take advantage of the many business benefits that diversity brings. Conversely, as we’ll see later in this article, some academic research shows that diversity and inclusion training has led to a decline in the number of women and minorities in management positions. Instead of seeing diversity as an opportunity to get to know others and work more effectively with them, many employees begin to resent or ignore it.
But there is good news. These challenges have also prompted experts to look for better ways to train diversity and inclusion, and have come up with a set of best practices that your company can become an expert to make the right choice at right time. So, in this tutorial, you’ll learn what diversity training is, why it’s important, and what form it takes. Then, before we learn how to do it better, we’ll see why so many diversity trainings fail. In the end, you’ll be empowered to avoid some mistakes and make your own diversity and inclusion training program effective and engaging.
1. What is Diversity and Inclusion Training?
Let’s start by defining diversity and inclusion training essentially; it’s a way to educate employees on how to work with people from different backgrounds. There are broadly two types of diversity: awareness and vocational training. The first is about raising awareness and helping them see the world through the eyes of people of different ages, races, genders, etc. The second is specific exercises that help people develop skills, such as better communicating with people from different backgrounds, and reducing the level of unconscious bias in decision-making.
Typically, professional coordinators come into the workplace and hold meetings for employees to group and complete tasks. But it can also be delivered online or as written material for employees to complete on their own time.
2. Why is diversity and inclusion training important?
Done right, diversity and inclusion training can help companies reap the benefits of diversity, which include above-average returns, increased innovation, better decision-making, happy employees and customers, and more. It’s important to understand that diversity and inclusion training is not a panacea. Running one training session, or even multiple training sessions, over time, you cannot create a diverse and inclusive work environment alone. Training should be part of a broader action plan aimed at promoting diversity, such as recruiting strategies, HR policies, tracking promotions, employee retention programs, etc. You can learn more about our other tutorials in this Workplace Diversity series.
However, training is an essential component. No matter what other programs you implement, they won’t be effective if your employees show bias or bias in their day-to-day decisions. Diversity and inclusion training can give your employees a broader perspective and help them perform better. Regular curriculum implementation also demonstrates your commitment to diversity and inclusion, which also has its benefits. A Deloitte study found that when employees “believe your organization is committed to and supports diversity, and feel included,” their ability to innovate increases by 83%.
3. Why Diversity Training Fails So Much
Now let’s get to the hardest part. Academics Alexandra Kale and Frank Dobbin analyzed three decades of data from more than 800 U.S. companies and interviewed hundreds of managers and executives. Mandatory diversity training has actually led to fewer women and minorities in management positions.
4. How to give Diversity and Inclusion Training Effectively
Now that we’ve seen what could go wrong, I thought it was time to see how to do it properly. What type of diversity and inclusion online training really works? You will learn some best practices in this section.
They start with the “why”
If people are to get the most from diversity and inclusion training, they need to understand why they are there. That means explaining the business case for diversity: why it’s important to your business and ways you can help. It also means explaining personal interests. How will this training make people work better? What specific results can you expect?
A striking aspect of the above table is how well the guidance results. It’s not strictly “training” so I won’t go into that, but it’s an alternative development strategy that can be very effective in many ways.