What is Diversity & Inclusion Training? Why is it important for Organizations?

Diversity is the practice of including people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, geographical locations race etc.

Workplace diversity is the new normal. Business leaders everywhere recognize diversity in

all its forms as a competitive advantage. Diverse perspectives drive creativity, innovation

and foster a feeling among employees that their opinion matters, which encourages them

to give their best effort and stick around. Inclusiveness takes it a step further by creating an environment where people’s differences of thought and experience are actually appreciated and viewed as a business advantage

No culture is perfect. Even at the best workplaces recognized for exceptional levels of trust, pride and camaraderie experienced by employees, there are gaps. Women report having a less-great experience at work than men. Also, front-line employees rate their workplace poorer than executives”

Diversity and Inclusion Training is a way of teaching employees about how to work with people from different background, culture, race, gender etc

There are roughly two classes of diversity training: awareness training and skills training. The first is about elevating people’s awareness and helping them to perceive the world through the eyes of someone of a different age, race, gender, etc. The second involves specific training to help people build skills, such as communicating better with people from multiple backgrounds and minimising the levels of unconscious bias in their decision-making. 

Like all exercises, diversity and inclusion training can take many shapes. Often, an expert facilitator will come into the workplace and run sessions for workers in which they break off into groups and complete tasks. But it could also be transported online or provided as written materials for employees to work through in their own time.

To ensure your organization’s diversity and inclusion work is implemented in a holistic

fashion, it is important to provide related training to all employees. Organization-wide

training should include a review of discrimination and harassment policies, education on the use of respectful (vs. harmful) language, and detail how your organization will support

an employee who has experienced and/or witnessed discrimination and/or harassment

Why is it Important?

When it’s done right, diversity and inclusion training can help companies notice its benefits, which comprise above-average financial returns, more revolution, better decision-making, happier employees and customers, and more.

It’s important to understand that diversity and inclusion training is not a remedy. Running a training session, or even more than one training session over time, can’t make a diverse and inclusive enterprise by itself. The training should be part of a broader program of actions aimed at promoting diversity, such as recruitment strategies, HR policies, promotion tracks, employee retention programs, and so on. Support of top management is of paramount importance if any organization has to promote diversity & inclusion in their organization.

Nonetheless, training is an essential component. No matter what other schemes you put in place, they won’t be effective if your employees are showing prejudice in their day-to-day decisions. Diversity and inclusion training can open your employees’ eyes to broader perspectives and help them perform even better.

Running orderly training programs also shows your own commitment to diversity and inclusion, which can have advantages of its own. A Deloitte study observed that when employees “think their organisation is committed to and supportive of diversity and they feel included,” there’s an 83% increment in their ability to innovate.

Focus

The training shall focus on 5 main things

  1. Observation skills, noticing what is going on and taking action to improve things
  2. Understanding the impact of prejudice, and how it is self-reinforcing
  3. How organizations prefer certain types of people, to the detriment of others
  4. How our own characteristics affect the way we perceive and react to others
  5. The accumulated stress on people based on the way they are treated.

How to provide Diversity and Inclusion Training?

  1. Begin With the “Why”

If individuals are going to get the most out of diversity and inclusion training, they need to understand why they’re there. 

That means elucidating the business case for diversity: why it’s important to your business and the ways in which it can benefit. Also, it means explaining the individual benefits. How will this coaching make people better at their jobs? What specific end result can they expect?

  • Blend Awareness and Skills Training

An-analysis of over 40 years of diversity training evaluations showed that diversity training can work, especially when it targets awareness and skill development and occurs over a significant period of time.”

This makes sense—after all, it’s obviously important to make people aware of things like unconscious bias and to help them see things through other people’s eyes. But it’s also important to go beyond notional thinking and give people solid skills that they can use in the workplace.

So, consider mixing things like insensible bias tests and privilege awareness exercises with exercises to help people build certain job-related skills, such as role-playing outlines to help managers communicate better, or programs customized for recruitment managers to teach them how to recruit with diversity in mind.

  • Make It Discretionary

Research shows something interesting. While compulsory diversity training led to unfavourable outcomes, voluntary training actually elevated the numbers of women and minorities in management positions.

This can be hard—the people who most need diversity training in your firm may be the least likely to show up. But the affirmation suggests that forcing them to show up doesn’t work too well, so maybe you can think of ways to use the carrot rather than the stick.

Be sure to highlight the positive aspects of the training too, framing it as an opportunity to learn valuable skills rather than a penal exercise.

  • People managers should be invested in the care and well-being of those who work for them and are responsible for ensuring their teams interact in a professional and respectful manner. Specific diversity and inclusion training for people managers helps ensure they fully understand this responsibility and know how to act on it.

People managers must be aware of the organization’s discrimination and harassment policies and their specific role in ensuring compliance. People managers are often the first point of contact for questions around health benefits, dress code, use of washrooms, etc. so it is important that they can answer questions confidently and respectfully, and know where to direct an employee if further support is needed. Many people managers will defer any uncomfortable questions to HR – for fear of “saying the wrong thing” – but a manager who understands the organization’s stance on these issues and is comfortable discussing it sets the tone for inclusion in their department. Training leads to confidence. And being an inclusive leader does not come naturally to all people managers

  • Uplift Mentoring

One evident aspect of the above chart is how good the results from mentoring are. This isn’t rigidly “training” so we won’t go into it in too much depth, but it’s an alternative development strategy that can be very effective in various ways.

Giving people the opportunity to pass on skills and understanding helps new members of the organization, many of whom may be from previously under-represented groups. But it also helps the senior members who are providing the mentoring to overcome their own biases by having more contact with people from other frameworks. 

So, make mentoring a key part of your diversity and inclusion scheme. Those datas speak for themselves.

  • Insert Diversity & Inclusion in Other Training

If diversity truly matters to your business, shouldn’t it be part of all your coaching, not just the dedicated “diversity” program?

For example, when you’re training new salespeople in the skills they’ll require for the job, you should ensure that you’re training them to sell to people from all types of different backgrounds. When you’re running communication skills coaching, part of that could be about communicating across different societies. When you’re coming up with role-playing schemes for other training programs, you could make sure that different groups are represented there too.

  • Set Objectives and Measure Progress

Projects tend to work out better when they have clear goals that are regularly measured to track improvement. That applies to diversity and inclusion training too—both on a company level and an individual level.

Pick something that makes sense for your business and compute it over time to see if the training is having the effect you want. Also take steps to make sure that the lessons are carried beyond the training itself, for example by including diversity and inclusion goals in people’s performance assessments or by having regular updates and improvement reports.

 Diversity and inclusion training may have a lot of challenges. When it’s done in the correct way, it can lead to a broad range of benefits for individual employees and for the whole company.

  • Support from the top Management

No training or intervention can succeed if it is not supported by the top management. To ensure success of Diversity & Inclusion Training Programs, it is a mandate to have support from the management of the organization.

Proud HR Services is an end-to-end service partner for the implementation of Diversity and Inclusion in organizations. We partner with companies on case redressal and policies to proactively promote diversity and inclusion in the organizations.

For more details on diversity, inclusion and prevention of sexual harassment, pls contact at info@proudhr.com

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