The topic of diversity and inclusion has remained a popular topic of discussion over the past few years. In recent months, employees have been empowered to voice their opinions on the lack of diversity at many companies across the country. Firms implementing initiatives to address these concerns must include diversity and inclusion training as part of their strategy.
Corporate diversity and inclusion training is designed to make employees aware of unconscious biases and help them work better with individuals of varying genders, nationalities, and abilities – amongst other characteristics that make people unique. Participants are taught skills to better interact with others of differing backgrounds and perspectives in order to create an inclusive environment for all. Effective training is shown to have positive impacts on other areas of the businesses as well.
Benefits of Diversity Training
By now, you’ve likely heard of the many advantages of employing a diverse team, including better and faster decision-making as well as improved business innovation. Additionally, research has shown that companies with highly diverse organizations produce more than double the cash flow of firms with homogenous teams. Proper training emphasizes the true value of diversity by improving awareness of unconscious biases at the workplace. These programs also have many benefits of their own:
Promotes workplace sensitivity. Diversity training helps employees understand different perspectives and consider how certain actions could unintentionally offend others. Participants also get in the habit of thinking inclusively and begin to consider actions they can take to make the workplace better for everyone.
Encourages a collaborative workforce. Humans are tribal by nature. We tend to stay around people that are similar to us. In the workplace, however, this can lead to limited perspectives during team assignments. When employees feel comfortable associating with diverse groups of coworkers, collaboration is more effective and genuine.
Creates a safe space for employees. Workers that feel accepted at work are able to thrive without fear of discrimination or harassment. They tend to be more fulfilled by the work they do and strive for better quality because of it. D&I programs provide employees with a safe space to learn from each other while exploring the differences that exist between them.
When diversity and inclusion in the workplace is celebrated, everybody wins. Employees feel more comfortable being themselves at work and businesses are able to achieve higher levels of productivity and profits. However, D&I training programs must be developed strategically for the positive impacts of diversity to be fully realized.
Creating A Successful Diversity and Inclusion Training Program
Studies have shown that poorly developed diversity and inclusion training can actually backfire against corporations. The nature of its content can easily elicit feelings of defensiveness from the individuals who stand to benefit most. To avoid these negative externalities, consider the following tips for developing a successful training program.
Get Buy-In from Senior Leadership. These types of initiatives are typically headed by a small group of individuals that are highly dedicated to the cause. However, including senior leadership in the conversation as early as possible will only further these efforts at a quicker rate. It is important to have one or two leaders initially to help guide the vision and champion it amongst the greater executive team. This will cut down on the amount of bureaucracy to navigate when a plan is created and ready to be executed.
Run Audit and Collect Data. All important business decisions must be informed by some kind of data. The strategic development of your D&I training program is no different. Consider the demographic of your workforce – their age, gender, nationality, neuroidentities, etc. Create anonymous surveys to allow employees to share their unfiltered opinion on how your company is currently handling inclusivity in the workplace. This data will help you establish clear and relevant goals that can be monitored to track success.
Keep messaging light, positive, and never personal. There is no ‘standard’ curriculum for diversity and inclusion training. However, when delivered poorly, this content can cause team members to feel unfairly attacked. D&I training should avoid heavily negative narratives and remain light in nature. Promoting the initiative as a way to lean into a diverse workplace rather than making demands of employees will help ensure it is well received by your workforce.
Incorporating Neurodiversity Subjects into D&I Programs
While diversity and inclusion training is being heavily adopted by corporations across the country, many programs often exclude multiple neuroidentity groups from their teachings on diversity. The concept of neurodiversity is not new, yet is still widely misunderstood by the general public. Neurodistinct professionals are a growing demographic in the workforce as a result of their wide range of unique, valuable skills.
Business leaders should first take the time to deeply understand neurodiversity in the workpace. Humans are a neurodiverse species – our minds all operate in different ways. Incorporating these ideas into training modules will ensure that employees consider an often forgotten aspect of inclusion. When neurodistinct team members are included and acknowledged in discussions of diversity, they can achieve their full potential rather than being discriminated against by traditional processes and systems that prioritize a static method of processing information.
When corporate diversity and inclusion training is done correctly, the advantages are endless for the company and its employees. To be effective, however, these programs must include all forms of diversity – not just the ones commonly associated with the word. If your business has not yet implemented D&I training initiatives for your workforce, the time to begin is now.