5 Ways To Improve The Effectiveness Of Your D&I Training Programs

5 Ways To Improve The Effectiveness Of Your D&I Training Programs
Summary: D&I training is an essential tool for any company. Learn how to improve the effectiveness of your D&I training programs with these tips.

5 Ways To Make D&I Training More Effective

Do you know why it's so important that your workforce be diverse? Because it reflects the diversity that's in your own clients! But to build a truly diverse workforce, you need a diversity and inclusion (D&I) training program. It'll improve your culture by reducing bias and promoting a positive environment. Ultimately, it'll boost your employee engagement levels, increasing employee retention and reducing employee turnover costs. Now, implementing a D&I training program that's effective is easier said than done. So, we decided to give you a hand and compiled a few of our best D&I training tips.

What Is D&I Training?

When we talk about diversity in the workplace, we're referring to employees of varied:

  • Genders
  • Ages
  • Races
  • Ethnicities
  • Sexual orientations
  • Religions
  • Educational levels
  • Socioeconomic statuses
  • Languages
  • Nationalities
  • Physical abilities
  • Mental abilities

And when we talk about inclusion, we're referring to developing interpersonal skills in staff members. As a result, they'll:

  • Work better together despite their diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and identities.
  • Respect and embrace the difference that's inherent to human beings, in their peers, team members, supervisors, partners, and clients.
  • Consider everyone's inputs and perspectives worthy.

If your organization is already hiring a diverse workforce, that's terrific. But in some organizations, D&I doesn't come naturally, and hiring a diverse workforce won't do the trick. These organizations need education to shift mindsets and engage in D&I practices. That's when training comes into play. These are the results of implementing D&I training programs in companies:

  • An increased awareness that some employees might feel discriminated against because of bias
  • A shared sense of responsibility across the organization for making the workplace a safe and harmonious environment.
  • A place where all staff members are appreciated and heard regardless of their background, beliefs, or identity

Listen, D&I can't just look good on paper. It has to be a cultural trait, a trait that's active and lives inside each employee—executives and board members included. All of them must understand what D&I is about and embody it, every day.

Why Is D&I Important?

If you think that D&I only matters to some staff members, you're wrong. D&I is fundamental to putting an end to prejudice in the workplace. And the consequences of not addressing workplace prejudice affect not only staff members but also the business itself. Fortunately, you can use D&I training to address this (sometimes deeply installed) way of thinking and behavior in companies. For instance, D&I training breaks the stereotype that certain positions—such as executive roles—belong to those with specific backgrounds, beliefs, and identities. Another example is the gender wage gap, which is still a reality nowadays [1]. D&I training also reduces the odds of civil rights violation lawsuits for sexual harassment and workplace discrimination. And even if your country or state doesn't require D&I training by law, you can—and should—put it in place. Here's a list of other D&I training benefits:

  • Offers equal employment and promotion opportunities, as it removes subjective variables such as bias from the hiring and performance appraisal processes.
  • Tears down socioeconomic barriers at work by ending biased thinking.
  • Raises self-awareness of unconscious bias to identify the signs and prevent discrimination and sexual harassment from happening in the workplace.
  • Becomes more profitable: McKinsey reported that organizations with gender-diverse and ethnicity-diverse executive teams are 25% and 36% more profitable than other organizations.
  • Humanizes the workplace, which appeals to all employees by making them happier with their jobs, leading them to stay longer at the company and be more productive.
  • Drives customer satisfaction by mirroring the diversity that exists among clients, which is something that clients notice and cherish.
  • Improves the interaction between co-workers, as an inclusive work environment fosters collaboration and teamwork.
  • Creates a learning environment at work because everyone will feel like their insights and viewpoints matter.

D&I Training Topics

This is what you should cover in your D&I training program:

  • Bias
    Both conscious and unconscious bias, and how to recognize it (the latter particularly).
  • Stereotyping at work
    The simplistic assumption and expectation that specific groups of employees behave in a certain way, which is a perception that shapes interactions in the workplace [2].
  • Microaggressions
    How to address this behavior, whose root is usually unconscious bias, and which damages both the victims and non-aggressive staff members.
  • Sexual harassment at work
    Its consequences for the staff, legal impact on the organization, and harm to the brand image [3].
  • Legal implications
    Implications of overlooking D&I and discriminating in the workplace both at the federal or national and state or regional levels.
  • D&I policies
    For example, hiring for a diverse workforce and unbiased promotions.
  • Cultural awareness
    The comprehension of the cultural differences that exist among staff members and in clients and partners.
  • Cross-cultural communication
    How to manage conversations about sensitive topics.

All companies are somehow unique. They have different D&I goals and face different D&I challenges. This means you might not need to include all the topics above in your D&I training program. Identify the areas within your company where bias, D&I barriers, or unresolved D&I conflicts exist. Then, select the topics your employees need to work on the most. To bring impartiality into the D&I self-assessment, hire an external expert. They won't fear asking uncomfortable questions about installed ideas and behaviors.

Making Your D&I Training Programs Work

If workplaces were diverse and inclusive, we wouldn't be discussing D&I. And if creating a more diverse and inclusive place to work was straightforward, you wouldn't need the following tips.

1. Understand The Importance Of Cultural Transformation

D&I is all about cultural transformation. Do you know why? Because unless something is culturally accepted within an organization, it won't stick around for long. Now, transforming the culture of a company is really hard and takes a lot of time! But just like a brand new house, you build it from the ground up, and in the case of D&I, the foundation is D&I training.

2. Write Down A Clear D&I Vision Statement

Grab a pen and put the cultural transformation you envision for your organization on paper. Don't know where to start? We'll help you. Start by listing the areas where you found evidence of bias within the organization. That's not your D&I vision statement, but rather, a starting point. From there, clearly describe how you envision those areas being respectful of diversity in the future—that'll be your D&I vision statement. If you find it hard to describe, think of the outcomes of implementing D&I training programs. The D&I vision statement is the cornerstone of your D&I training program. It sets up expectations for everyone at the company, and it must tie in with the company's mission, vision, values, and goals. If it doesn't, the program will never be effective.

3. Develop A Blended D&I Training Program

A blended D&I training program includes:

  • Both online and in-person learning
  • Online courses
  • Recorded webinars
  • Mobile learning apps
  • Microlearning
  • Instructor-Led Training, whether virtual or in-person
  • Classroom sessions
  • Live webinars
  • Virtual classes

Online training offers the flexibility and convenience of learning anytime, anywhere, at the employees’ own pace. On the other hand, Instructor-Led Training allows employees to interact with each other and receive real-time feedback. Blended learning is effective at building new interpersonal skills and gaining confidence in putting them into practice. Additionally, D&I training programs benefit a lot from:

  • Giving real-world examples
  • Analyzing scenarios
  • Role-playing (especially in person)
  • Having discussion sessions

4. Ensure That All Employees Participate

D&I training is for all staff members within an organization, and it should be mandatory regardless of the role or seniority. There should be no exceptions, and the CEO should take the training program too! This is why:

  • To demonstrate that leadership takes D&I seriously and the entire company is committed to it.
  • To communicate that D&I training can make anyone a better version of themselves.

5. Measure The D&I Training Effectiveness

To measure the effectiveness of your D&I training program, you need training evaluation data, and to collect it, you need tools such as:

  • Surveys
  • Individual interviews
  • Focus groups [4]

Whether it's post-training or in the long run, here's what you should try to figure out:

  • Do all employees feel like they have the same access to employee development and career progression opportunities?
  • Did your workforce engage in more training initiatives after you implemented the D&I training program?
  • Do staff members who usually get discriminated against at work feel that the training program raised D&I at your organization?

Training evaluation data will help determine if employees developed the interpersonal skills and knowledge you expected. They should feel more comfortable approaching workplace diversity after taking the program. But the only way to conclude that is by gathering appropriate data with the right tools.

A Few Last Notes

Let's get this straight before we go: we're all biased to some extent. Some of us have stronger and more complex biases than others, and some are more conscious of their biases than others. But we all have to combat our biases. We must all learn not to judge skills or knowledge, or limit opportunities at work based on them. D&I training isn't about learning to agree with someone else's backgrounds, beliefs, and identities. It's about respecting and welcoming all of them. Practicing D&I in the workplace is practicing empathy. All staff members wish to feel like they belong to their teams and the company. And whereas biases separate a workforce, that need for belonging unites it. Remember: neglecting bias in your organization is damaging and comes with a price. So, it's time for a world-class D&I training program!


[1] Gender pay gap in U.S. held steady in 2020

[2] Stereotypes

[3] What is brand image and how do you measure it

[4] What is a focus group?

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