Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are associated with many benefits: from better productivity to stronger employee retention. As an example, according to a report by Deloitte, when people feel “included” in the workplace, innovation is increased by 83%.
However, developing workplace diversity and inclusion takes effort, organization and consistency. This post will look into the strategies a company can use to achieve better results from its diversity training process.
What Is Diversity Training?
Diversity training is a process to develop a better understanding of cultural and other differences between team members. It is specifically focused on teaching employees to appreciate these differences and recognize them as strengths that can be harnessed for better performance.
In most cases, a diversity training program will include a mix of learning materials, lectures and talks and real-world application practices.
Types of Diversity Training in the Workplace
Diversity training in the workplace can take on different forms — or combine a variety of formats.
The most popular types of workplace diversity training include:
- Peer learning,
- And combination approach.
Coaching typically presupposes hiring an out-of-house trainer (coach) who will work with the teams. The coach’s task, in this case, would be to analyze the personality and motivation of each staff member. During the group coaching, they will then offer solutions for improving team communication and interaction to achieve better results in the workplace.
This method can be beneficial to target issues within a specific team or workgroup. With that, it may not be easy to scale this approach to a large company as it would be quite resource-demanding. Companies can even make a life coaching contract for their employees and teams.
Peer learning is a more decentralized approach that focuses on individuals. In this case, team members are encouraged to share their own experiences and advise each other on diversity and inclusion practices.
Typically, in peer learning groups, employees would meet for a round table discussion. One group member would be selected to act as a moderator. The moderator would be responsible for leading the discussion, asking for input, assisting open dialogue and more.
The ultimate goal of peer learning is to encourage all employees to share their opinions and perspectives. Eventually, this would lead to improving understanding and addressing challenges that stand in the way of productivity.
Just as the name suggests, gamification is a method that relies on games to reach the needed results. This approach is based on the same principle as online games. People from different countries, backgrounds and walks of life interact and work towards common goals
In this case, employees are assigned tasks with specific instructions that they need to complete as a team. Throughout this process, they will also receive coaching and tips that they will later implement in day-to-day work.
Micro-learning is typically used as an extra to complement other diversity training methods.
It involves breaking down the training course into smaller lessons (five to ten minutes long). Employees are then asked to go through these mini-lessons regularly over a specific period.
Micro-learning is often paired with more comprehensive training programs. It has proven to be a good way of improving information retention and boosting training results.
While one of the methods above may be perfect for your company, it is more likely that you will need a mix of the few. Typical combinations include:
- Coaching alongside peer training,
- Gamification as a follow up to theoretical learning sessions,
- Micro-learning to complement a full-length training program,
- And more.
A combination approach can cover a lot of the drawbacks of each single training method. Plus, it is a good way to tailor diversity training programs to a particular company or team.
How to Organize Diversity and Inclusion Training in the Workplace?
Before launching diversity training in your company, it is essential to do some preparatory work. This may include:
Completing an Internal Census
This is where you define where you currently stand when it comes to demographics. Typically, this stage is focused on conducting surveys to learn more about your employees. This often includes race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, age, family status and more. For efficiency purposes, try using existing employee data to answer most of the above.
Identifying Challenges and Setting Goals
Once you’ve collected the needed data, you can use it to identify existing and potential challenges. You may also try to pinpoint where these challenges are concentrated — when it comes to departments, teams or employee groups.
Outlining the Diversity Training Program
Once you have identified key challenges and focus areas, you can create an outline for your training program. It should aim to make specific changes in targeted areas that will have a direct effect on diversity and inclusion. Potential practices that you may want to include are:
- Adjusting company policies,
- Re-evaluating hiring and training processes,
- Educating HR teams on diversity recruitment,
- And more.
Another important thing to resolve at this stage is figuring out how you will measure progress. Analyzing the efficiency of your training program and making adjustments to it is essential for achieving desired results.
Possible training efficiency markers include:
- Changes in the percentage the underrepresented demographics,
- Diversity and inclusion survey results,
- Performance metrics that demonstrate team output,
- Employee retention evaluation,
- Results received from digital tools like productivity trackers,
- And more.
Selecting the Diversity Training Program Content
At this stage of the process, you will need to decide how to source content for your training program. When selecting a content provider, make sure that the information they use is recent and applicable to the specifics of your workplace.
It is generally a good idea to combine several content formats (as mentioned above). You can try mixing elements of coaching, e-learning, gamification and more.
Other tasks at this stage may include:
- Reviewing your company policy documents to make sure they reflect diversity and inclusion changes,
- Updating your company branding materials,
- Incorporating new practices into your interviewing and onboarding processes,
- Ensuring that all changes are clearly communicated at all company levels,
- And more.
Once you have set up your content foundation, you can move on to scheduling and arranging diversity training sessions.
Evaluating Training Results
Once you have launched your training program, you must keep track of how it is going and whether it achieves the needed results.
Use the markers that you have selected to evaluate the efficiency of training sessions. You can also use additional tools to see how the training process is affecting productivity. Time trackers for Mac or Windows can come in particularly handy here.
If you are not seeing the results you were hoping for, you can adjust to the ongoing training process. Another important thing to take into account is how the training is received by your employees. Consider conducting regular anonymous surveys or casually chatting with team members to get their opinions.
Finally, it is important to understand that no training program is perfect. Getting the results you want will probably take time, patience and numerous adjustments to the training process.