Creating a workplace that values diversity and inclusion is not only a moral necessity; it is also critical for encouraging innovation, boosting employee engagement, and improving organizational performance.
Setting up a diversity training program for your employees is one way to empower employees to promote diversity and inclusion, creating a more welcoming and productive workplace. This guide aims to provide a thorough road map for developing a workplace environment that embraces diversity and fosters equality.
Importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Your workforce should reflect your values and who you are as a company.
What does it say about a company that claims to value diversity and inclusion but does not employ a diverse workforce?
Can you say that your company is truly inclusive?
Ultimately, the principles of diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) should be fundamental in everything you do, including your training and development programs. The benefits of doing so are extensive. For example, an inclusive brand may find that they have a competitive edge over similar brands. In a recent survey, 59% of participants stated that they are more likely to buy from a brand that actively promotes diversity and inclusion.
Other benefits could include:
- Attract top talent
- Increased employee retention
- Higher employee engagement and satisfaction
- Reduce harassment in the workplace
- Foster better team collaboration and communication
- Higher levels of customer loyalty
As you can see from the benefits listed above, diversity and inclusion in the workplace can positively impact your brand in many ways. One clear step to promoting diversity in your organization is to begin with DEI training for your employees.
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How to set up a diversity training program for your employees
With all of this in mind, then, how exactly do you set up a diversity training program for your employees? How can you encourage participation, cultivate an inclusive company culture, and begin to reap the benefits of embracing diversity, equality, and inclusion?
The next section of this article provides a step-by-step guide on how to set up a diversity training program—so keep reading!
1. Conduct a workplace assessment and establish specific outcomes
Before you build a successful diversity training program, you must first understand why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve. Involve your employees at every step of this process to ensure they feel valued.
You should aim to gather as much relevant information as possible. This may include:
- Employee demographics – consider an employee census to establish the current make-up of your workforce and how much representation you have from various demographic groups. This could include race, gender, religion or age. You might even want to compare non-exempt vs exempt employee information.
- Specific training requests from your employees – asking employees about their own diversity training needs would be an excellent starting point.
- Preferred learning and training styles of employees – understanding how your employees learn best will help you design a DEI training program that best meets their needs.
Use the data to establish any under-representation in your organization as well as any gaps in training or challenges your organization is facing in relation to diversity and inclusion. In doing so, you can begin to build a customized diversity training program with clearly defined goals or specific outcomes.
Your goals might be to increase employee awareness, improve collaboration, foster a diverse and inclusive company culture, or to improve diversity outcomes in your hiring process.
Whatever your goals are, it is important to clearly define them before you build your workplace diversity training program. Clear goals and objectives will help you throughout the process and allow you to measure the success of your program easily.
2. Select diverse, knowledgeable, and skilled facilitators
Once you have analyzed your data and established the goals of your diversity training program, you need to select diverse, knowledgeable, and skilled facilitators. This may be a person or a team from within your organization, or perhaps you will choose to outsource the delivery of your diversity training program.
Ensure whoever will be facilitating your training program is confident using the technology you hope to use. If it is important for you to use video in your online training, then the facilitator should be aware of this and confident that they can meet your expectations.
3. Employ pre-training surveys for expectations and concerns
One important step in developing a diversity training program is to employ pre-training surveys. This can allow you to gather any concerns from your employees and address them accordingly. This will also give you another set of data to help you monitor and measure the effectiveness of your diversity training program.
You can also communicate the expectations for the training program. This might involve sending employees some pre-training materials or reading in order to prepare them for the program.
Participants of your DEI training program will appreciate knowing the goals of the program and the course agenda ahead of time.
4. Focus training materials on diversity, equity, and inclusion
It goes without saying that you will need to prepare appropriate resources and training materials. The format of your diversity training program will determine exactly what this looks like, but it might include:
- Sourcing and testing required technology
- Sourcing appropriate course materials
- Booking guest speakers
- Booking a physical training venue
Nowadays, many training programs take place online, so it is essential that you test the technology and ensure you and your employees have everything they need to access the course materials. For example, technology such as Vonage VoIP calls can allow you to connect with participants or guest speakers easily and reliably.
Remember to let participants know ahead of time what is expected of them and what they will need to access the program effectively. If you expect participants to join a video call or prepare answers in advance of the course, then this should be carefully communicated to them in plenty of time.
5. Cultivate open discussions on diversity issues
As you go through the process of creating a diversity training program, it is worth doing some wider work on your company culture and attitude towards diversity, equality, and inclusion. Expanding your company’s understanding of diversity through open and respectful conversations will act as a catalyst for your program’s success.
You might want to share articles related to the topics of your training program or perhaps have a weekly “big question” designed to facilitate discussions amongst your staff. However you choose to engage your employees, the goal here is to cultivate open discussions on diversity issues alongside your diversity training program.
6. Encourage active participation and leadership support
As you launch your diversity training program, you want to encourage active participation from your employees to ensure it is a success. However, engaging busy employees in training and development can be difficult as it may not be at the top of their list of priorities.
In order to encourage active participation, you might consider a game-based learning platform, which will likely be viewed as more fun by participants. You could also employ interactive tasks, quizzes, and group discussions to encourage your employees to engage with your diversity training program. Consider using the GoSkills course builder to create a learning program that really works for your organization.
You should also ensure there is clear support from the leadership team. When employees see that their leaders truly value something, they are more likely to take notice.
7. Create an accessible schedule and program for all employees
As well as the tips outlined above to encourage active participation, you need to make your diversity training practical too. Ensure that the training sessions are scheduled in advance and that all timings are communicated effectively to your participants.
It makes sense to schedule your DEI training sessions using a platform that is already familiar to your employees. For example, you could set up a calendar invite or send reminder emails for upcoming sessions.
8. Regularly assess program for progress and measure impact
It is essential that you measure the effectiveness of your workplace diversity training program and make sure it meets the needs of your organization and your employees. It should not be a tick-box exercise, but a meaningful element of your diversity strategy.
Use the pre-training data and workplace assessment information as your baseline and measure specific KPIs to understand the progress and impact of the program. Platforms such as GoSkills LMS can make this process simpler by providing a single solution for facilitating and monitoring your courses.
For example, you might consider measuring the following KPIs:
- Change in percentage of under-represented demographic groups
- Employee retention figures over time
- Participant satisfaction
- Employee behavioral changes
- Net promoter metrics related to diversity
Use a variety of methods for measuring impact in order to ensure your monitoring process is robust.
This might include data analysis, focus groups, or surveys to gather appropriate quantitative and qualitative data. Regularly monitoring and evaluating the impact of your program will only positively impact your organization’s approach to diversity.
9. Promote training principles at work
Of course, once the diversity training program is complete, you want to ensure that employees actually apply the training principles in their day-to-day work. Promote the principles of DEI across your organization and ensure your employees understand that it is part of your company culture, rather than a one-off exercise they need to tick off their to-do list.
Diversity, equality, and inclusion should be high on every organization’s agenda. Not only should all organizations aim to promote diversity and inclusion, but they should embrace DEI as part of their culture. In doing so, brands can reap a huge amount of benefits.
Developing a robust and effective diversity training program is a fantastic starting point for any organization hoping to revamp its approach to DEI in the workplace. Foster a company culture that embraces and values diversity by using the steps outlined in this article to create an effective diversity training program for your employees.