As mentioned on our Diversity and Inclusion Training webpage, inclusive workplaces allow employees to feel valued for their contributions and have the same opportunities for advancement as their co-workers. Organizations can use diversity and inclusion training as a tool to create a culture of inclusion by raising awareness of unconscious bias and setting expectations for a respectful workplace.
According to McKinsey & Company, there are demonstrable business imperatives to building diverse and inclusive organizations. The COVID-19 pandemic and movements around #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have become catalysts for change, and have demonstrated a need for a more diverse, inclusive workforce.
While hiring a diverse team is a critical first step, a diverse workforce does not necessarily guarantee an inclusive workplace. Addressing diversity is only part of the process. Employees who feel like they belong show higher levels of engagement, which is why inclusive workplaces have more satisfied and involved employees. Gartner states that workers in highly diverse and inclusive organizations result in a 26% increase in team collaboration and an 18% increase in team commitment.
Rebuilding your diversity and inclusion training program
Rebuilding a diverse and inclusive workplace is not an easy task. It has to start from the top down. Leaders need to align and influence the organization by ensuring that every individual, from C level to the front lines, understands the vision and importance of their role and takes ownership for their actions. Diversity should be built into the core values of an organization, including ensuring that all underrepresented groups are valued and treated with respect.
Below are some steps to consider when building your diverse and inclusive workplace:
- Ensure equal access to career development programs and build gender equality into your employee programs: Leaders need to create gender equality in training and development opportunities. They also need to ensure that all employees feel supported in their career paths and allow them to build individual confidence as they grow in their careers.
- Acknowledge biases: Training and development programs raise awareness of unconscious bias and obstacles to acceptance of differences. They illustrate what respectful workplaces look like and what they do not look like – giving all employees a reference point for appropriate and acceptable behavior.
- Embrace differences: Diversity and inclusion training should celebrate experiences and values that diversity brings to your organization. Include input and feedback from your team to see if the diversity training is reflective and forward-thinking.
- Consistently be improving your workplace culture: Having a successful training programs in place strengthens relationships throughout the organization. Make sure that you’re consistently getting feedback and keeping up with changing circumstances, while including them in the process.
By improving your employee engagement through stronger diversity and inclusion training, you will drive employee engagement, which will then drive profitability. The more diverse and inclusive your work environment is, the more successful it will become.
What additional benefits come from diversity and inclusion training?
Putting an investment into your diversity and inclusive training can bring several benefits to your organization. Not only will there be an increase in engagement for employees on an individual level, but you will also see more cohesion throughout teams in your organization. Employees will be able to better understand each other and acknowledge and work through their differences.
Another benefit of an inclusive workplace is lower employee turnover, keeping the best talent on your team. Employees who feel strong connections to their organization and more likely to have a commitment and a sense of loyalty to their organization. These employees are also more motivated to put in extra effort and increase performance. Employees will trust one another and create an environment of collaboration. When your employees are happy, it shows, and attracts more top talent to your organization.
In an inclusive workplace, employees feel a sense of belonging, which enables them to freely express diverse viewpoints. This, in turn, benefits the company because it increases innovation, creativity, and employee contributions. A diverse team is a creative team. When your employees learn and grow with each other, and understand others, they can open their minds to creative solutions. Different perspectives result in more creative solutions, and employees willingly contribute more authentic ideas.
Organizations that focus on building diverse and inclusive teams have a better reputation. By including underrepresented individuals and diverse cultures, your organization has a wider reach and relates to more people. Inclusive and diverse ideas reach additional markets and aid in building a competitive advantage. Reaching more demographics and markets, and ensuring your organization stays competitive requires teams to think in an inclusive manner. Make sure your leaders consistently include diverse backgrounds to expand your customer base, increase market share, and build reputation.
Don’t let your diversity and inclusion training programs fail
Many organizations have run into their diversity and inclusion training programs being ineffective. How can your organization produce genuine change? L&D teams have some hurdles to jump over in order to create effective diversity and inclusion training programs.
Be aware of the following when rebuilding your training programs for a more diverse and inclusive organization:
- Absence of leadership: One of the most common issues when introducing diversity and inclusion training programs in lack of direct involvement from executive leadership. Leadership teams can often be resistant to change or believe it’s not possible. Set a good example by leading from the top down.
- Inconsistency: A lot of times diversity and inclusion training follow an incident or problem that already occurred. If this is the case, employees will see it as inauthentic and ungenuine. Consistency is key here. Integrate your diversity and inclusion training into your L&D programs regularly. Implementation is also critical, and do not necessarily need to be traditional instructor led trainings. Consider microlearning opportunities for employees to train on their time.
- Embrace resistance: Another common issue that may arise from diversity and inclusion training is employee resistance. This can happen for several reasons: employees believe changes won't actually happen, or they often feel victimized or singled out which can often cause more animosity towards teams. This is where you’ll want to organically introduce the training programs pre-emptively and not follow an issue that already occurred.
Your diversity and inclusion training program should be constantly evolving. A diverse and inclusive workforce is not just a popular trend, but a key to higher employee engagement and increased profitability. Take an important step toward ensuring your employees feel like an integral part of an organization that knows, sees, and listens to them by offering training programs that reflect and honor the diversity among you teams.