Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is becoming an increasingly important topic for organisations in every industry. Strong D&I in the workplace can help your company attract the most talented and loyal individuals, cultivate innovative ideas, and more. Therefore, D&I training has become necessary now more than ever for any company wanting to improve D&I initiatives and achieve more effective results.
This blog post aims to explain the definition of D&I training, its importance, and how it can be applied in the workplace.
What is diversity and inclusion training?
Diversity and Inclusion training is the process of educating employees on the benefits of establishing and harbouring a diverse, open-minded workforce that ultimately is discriminatory and prejudice-free.
The training enables employees with different backgrounds, races, cultures, or religions to work more collaboratively.
Biases that arise from different perspectives must be addressed in the D&I training program because they are the primary cause of people not working well together. The training should also help identify the negative impacts of biases as well as find solutions to overcome discrimination if any.
The main goal is to have a diverse yet inclusive workplace that also fosters a sense of belonging where people from different backgrounds feel comfortable and respected. When employees collaborate well, they can achieve higher performances and creativity.
Essentially, there are two types of Diversity and Inclusion training:
1. Awareness training: where employees learn how to identify and understand the biases and differences in cultures, race, genders, and so on.
2. Skills training: where employees sharpen a variety of skills to communicate/work efficiently with others from different backgrounds, thus reducing discriminatory acts and unconscious biases at work.
Why is diversity and inclusion training important?
When applied effectively, D&I training helps businesses realise the immense benefits that come with a diverse workforce, including but not limited to enhanced morale and productivity. It also contributes to employees' development.
According to McKinsey reports released in 2017 and 2020, diverse companies are 35% more likely to gain above-average profit margins and achieve more long-term value creation than non-diverse companies.
Besides higher profitability, addressing shareholder pressure is another advantage that D&I brings. Some companies have implemented training programs to follow government compliance regulations. Due to increasing pressure from stakeholders, companies must publish their diversity and inclusion information in some countries, such as the UK.
D&I training is also critical for retaining current employees and attracting new ones. Nowadays, a high salary is no longer enough to keep employees happy; it's a comfortable and friendly workplace. Jeff Weber, senior vice president of people and places at Instructure, states that candidates are now asking more about the D&I strategies of the company. Companies with a good D&I training program can make a positive lasting impression on potential future employees.
However, it is not always easy to become more diverse and inclusive. Reports from McKinsey also point out the struggles that some companies face when trying to become more diverse, namely difficulties in implementing an effective diversity and inclusion training program and finding a solution to that difficulty.
How can diversity and inclusion training be applied?
Firstly, companies should set clear goals for the training program. Try to understand what D&I training is and what you want to achieve after the training. Setting goals leads to achieving them.
Secondly, the training should be voluntary. Employees need to be interested in and understand the benefits of having an engaged and diverse workforce to attend the training, not because they are obligated to do so.
D&I training is not a one-off activity; it should be ongoing. More important, it needs to become an integral part of the overall organisational culture. The information and programs also need to be modified and updated over time to suit various employees from different backgrounds.
It is also critical to have experts in D&I training to give advice and know-how to develop an effective training program. The trainer will instruct, monitor employees' performance, and recognise limitations and improvements.
The training should aim at maximising connections and reducing fear. During the training, there should be plenty of practical exercises for employees to apply what they learn.
To further promote the idea, organisations can define metrics to assess the diversity and inclusion level. For instance, tracking lateral development into acting positions or monitoring the percentage of using inclusive language in all communications.
In general, D&I training requires a lot of effort. But when applied successfully, it can greatly benefit both individuals and the company as a whole. Nevertheless, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, nor should your D&I training program be set in stone. It is a continuously evolving process that requires meticulous planning and frequent feedback cultivation from both employees and managers.
You may have started to see a couple of young talents belonging to the Gen Z cohort sprouting up here and there in the office. In just a short couple of years, they will be the ones that dominate the workforce along with the Millennials. Moreover, Gen Z is incredibly diverse, open, and proactive.
You may have to tailor your D&I initiatives to suit this specific group. Let's start with understanding them with our whitepaper below. Download it now!