At first glance, you may not understand why a diversity training program is necessary or how it impacts the workplace. Most business leaders ask “What Should Diversity Training Include?” among a myriad of other questions. We will definitely answer that question below, however, our first focus should not be on what to include, but to understand the goal of a diversity program. And that is simple: “creating an inclusive workplace will improve the entire organization – for both employees and the employer alike.
Diversity programs should focus on employee training. These programs are about learning to create an inclusive culture for a diverse workforce. The first step in doing so is offering a high-quality diversity course.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about diversity courses, from what they are, what they should focus on, to the benefits they bring to the workplace.
Table of Contents
What Is Diversity Training?
Diversity training programs seek to educate employees on diversity metrics to create a more inclusive environment for all employees. Diversity issues are present in every workplace, no matter how big or small. When diverse backgrounds come together, clashes are certain to occur. How can you keep these diversity issues from getting out of hand and leading to bigger problems?
The point of mandatory diversity training is to improve the company culture by improving conflict management skills and ensuring that employees are treated respectfully by their fellow employees, regardless of their background. Diversity training programs aim to educate employees on how to acknowledge discrimination and their racial biases and tolerate differences and work towards a common goal.
How To Create Effective Diversity Training Programs
Now that you understand more about diversity training, important things to consider are what makes these mentorship programs effective for all employees? Diversity trainings cover several subjects and discussions that are essential in the workplace. How can you teach employees about fostering relationships with coworkers from different backgrounds?
An inclusion training program aims to highlight the importance and value of each individual voice on a diverse team. Here’s how you can encourage workplace diversity training and design a program that works for your team.
Reflect on the Workplace Environment
What does your company culture look like? What core values and beliefs can your diverse teams rally around? In most cases, company culture is cultivated naturally, but sometimes it needs a little guidance to help it grow. Diverse companies can recognize racial bias and root it out of the workplace by implementing employee training programs.
Are there complaints you receive from coworkers, or rumors you hear floating around the breakroom? Bias training can help identify and eliminate these alarming concerns before they get out of hand. Each workplace is different, and therefore the needs of your inclusion program should reflect that. Review what your workplace environment looks like so that you can train employees accordingly to align with company values.
Increase Awareness Among Employees
What is the established diversity in your workplace? Are there more white employees than any other ethnicity? This can often go unnoticed, especially by other white employees. Underrepresented groups in non-diverse companies struggle to have their voices heard and can often get drowned out by other coworkers. Make sure your program doesn’t create an us versus them environment which is sometimes called “othering.”
Acknowledging the unique backgrounds and experiences they bring to the table can only benefit the team. Awareness doesn’t mean switching the focus solely to another group but instead aims to share the spotlight equally so that every individual is heard and valued. A group of diverse employees has a lot to say, and they must be provided the space to do so.
Break Up Training Into Smaller Groups
When it comes to diversity training, there’s the initial push to do it all in one go. Doing so theoretically saves time and money, but realistically large meetings are ineffective for diversity training. The employees who need to learn about diversity issues are less likely to pay attention if the room is filled with others who are listening, meaning that you’ll likely need to hold further diversity training sessions in the future.
Additionally, by breaking up the diversity trainings into smaller groups, coworkers are allowed to gain a deeper understanding of their peers while learning about the key concepts. Effective training for different groups relies on each member playing their part and taking an active role in the learning process.
Discuss Training Company-Wide
A good way to spread awareness and improve the company’s reputation and public image is to discuss diversity company-wide. HR professionals can establish the programs within specific branches and ensure that the diversity training is carried out properly. Diversity and inclusion are important topics in the workplace that ensure every voice is heard and utilized to improve the company.
Those motivated by their own advancement will want to make connections early on, and so the skills learned in the training will help them do that. When diversity training is established on a company-wide level, every employee has the opportunity to better themselves and respect their coworkers.
How To Run A Diversity and Inclusion Training Program
Once you have established a program, how do you decide who will run it? How will they begin, and how will you ensure that the core values are being properly communicated to the groups involved? The last thing you want to happen in a diversity training program is for the participants to feel overlooked, minimized, or disrespected.
To validate your employees’ experiences, you must first identify the key objectives in the course to ensure you meet the mark. Here’s how you can narrow the focus of your message in diversity program.
What is the objective?
Identify what the goal of the program is. Is there a specific incident that prompted the diversity and inclusion (DEI) training? Discussions about racial and ethnic diversity must be handled carefully and respectfully. DEI efforts should appeal to all members of the team, hoping to promote further discussion and greater understanding of one another.
By identifying the objective of the training, participating employees will come into the meeting with an understanding of the subject, and be better prepared to receive the message.
How will you reach the goal?
How will you get the message across during diversity and inclusion training? As previously mentioned, breaking the session up into small groups can enable participating employees to actively engage with the content. If your message is to highlight the accomplishments of racial minorities in the workplace, how will you do so in an authentic way that doesn’t minimize or patronize them?
Effective diversity means finding ways to respectfully pay tribute to the accomplishments of others from all different walks of life. How will you take initiative to create an inclusive culture for your diverse workforce in the office? It’s important to consider this plan before you begin so that you can work towards the specific goal in mind.
Also, it’s important to understand that in order “reach your goal” you will need to actually set goals. Only then, will you be able to measure the effectiveness of your diversity program.
Who is the trainer, and what experience do they bring?
Who you appoint to lead the diversity training is vital to the success of the meeting. Employees will want to feel represented, but how do you select one person to lead a group of diverse employees? Whoever leads the discussion about diversity and inclusion needs to be sensitive to the subject matter and respectful towards their peers when leading the conversation.
It helps if the speaker has a master’s degree, proving that they are qualified to lead the conversation thanks to years of proper preparation and training. An organizational psychologist can help support the trainer and offer suggestions for how to train the employees.
So, Exactly What Should Diversity Training Include?
While your diversity training programs can take on various forms, they should all prioritize the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. Several specific subjects need to be discussed to ensure your workplace diversity training takes effect and impacts how things are run.
To create an inclusive environment, diversity training needs to focus on discovering unconscious biases and how to combat them with positive affirmations, superior leadership, and guidelines that allow employees to come forward should they feel disrespected or slighted.
All Diversity Courses Should Include the Following Key Components:
Discovering unconscious bias can be difficult. Whether the bias revolves around socio economic status, sexual orientation, religion, gender, ethnicity, or disability, every individual needs to be made aware of the assumptions they make based on harmful stereotypes or their own experiences.
Every individual needs to relearn that new people they meet are essentially blank slates. Previous experiences with groups of people are not meant to set the standard for expectations as they are but one piece of a much larger whole. Some people in the workplace need to be reminded of this so that they can conduct positive interactions with their coworkers.
Diversity and Inclusion
To ensure there is diversity and inclusion in the team, it’s important to openly discuss what that looks like in your workplace. Diversity training should not be a checklist of different identities and backgrounds that need to be met, but an open discussion about how each member brings something unique to the team and how a lack of diversity can harm the company.
Including new voices shows effective diversity training, so in the sessions make sure to focus on how to do so. Every voice in the workplace deserves to be heard, no matter how big or small. Diversity training is essential to teaching team leaders how to find and listen to these voices.
Physical and Mental Ability
Take into consideration how to be inclusive when it comes to the physical and mental abilities of your team. You don’t want to discriminate against older employees by giving them physically strenuous tasks, and it may be embarrassing for them to admit as much to you or the team. To avoid putting your employees in uncomfortable positions that make them feel excluded, discuss a plan of action for how tasks will be distributed.
How might one’s mental ability and mental health affect their work? Diversity and inclusion training means considering each individual’s experiences and abilities when assigning tasks, but not discriminating against them because of it. There is a careful balance to find and maintain within the workplace that such training sessions should go over.
Often, trouble with diversity and inclusion occurs in the hiring practices, discriminating against applicants without necessarily meaning to. Inclusion training should cover how to recognize bias and how it affects the hiring process. Training should also go over how to move past that initial bias so that each applicant is treated equally.
In the modern workplace, positive interactions boost employee morale. Inclusion training needs to focus on how to create and maintain these attitudes throughout the day in the workplace. Negative attitudes towards the training can impact those who stand to benefit most from it. Framing the training and content as positive can help establish a more receptive audience.
An important thing to focus on in training is holding company leadership accountable. The adage “lead by example” still holds weight, especially when it comes to treating employees equally in the workplace. Good leadership that promotes diversity unites the workforce, encouraging the team to work together and reach out when they are in need.
Leadership within the company is also responsible for enforcing the rules of the workplace, which means following protocol whenever diversity problems occur. The bottom line? Business success depends upon dependable leadership that looks out for both the company and its employees.
Training should also cover the importance of setting rules and boundaries to protect the employees within the workplace. Those who don’t grasp the concept right out of the training will need guidelines to help them. Additionally, those guidelines set the standard for how people are supposed to be treated. Employees who cross any lines will face consequences, therefore protecting the safety of those at risk.
The rules should not be discriminatory themselves but aim to eradicate such behavior in the workplace. Training will go over what these rules should look like and how to properly enforce them to reduce further harm.
Benefits of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Training Programs
There are many benefits to diversity and inclusion training programs, both for the company and the individuals who help run it. The training program is the first step to overall change company-wide, so it’s important to know what benefits it will bring to your team.
Whether you have your employees sit down in the office to talk or educate them via mobile learning, diversity training programs are designed to bring about positive changes that will reshape a business from the inside for the better.
Increasing Diversity in the Workplace
By increasing the amount of diversity in the workplace, more voices are being heard. Each voice has a unique experience to share, and that expertise can further the company’s goals. Additionally, diversifying the workplace can make other employees feel more represented and included.
Seeing peers that come from similar walks of life can boost morale and keep employees happy. It also shows that the workplace is inclusive and welcoming, having an open-minded approach to business and productivity.
Diversity training raises awareness in the company that the higher-ups are aware of the issue and are pushing for change. This can boost morale and also help employees understand the importance of representation within the workplace. Underrepresented groups are likely to feel more welcome knowing that they work with a company that cares about making them feel seen, heard, and valued regularly.
Additionally, the company will see an increase in support from the public as consumers like to see and support businesses that appreciate a team of diverse people.
Above Average Profit Margins
Diverse hiring has benefits that extend beyond company morale and help employees feel welcomed. A diverse team can improve profit margins across the board. On average, companies that employ diverse teams see profits that exceed their respective national industry medians.
Hiring female leaders can improve employee retention rates, helping bring unique perspectives to the leadership team. Companies that are led by women, or have women in leadership roles, tend to see more profits. It’s worth looking into the business benefits of a diverse workplace to see how it will reward your company as a whole.
Diversity training workshops are a great way to welcome new employees and establish company goals and values when it comes to inclusion. Reviewing not only what needs to be the focus of the training, but how to best deliver the content will ensure that employees are receptive and accepting of it. Knowing what needs to be focused on will make preparing to host these important discussions all the more inclusive.