How to successfully implement workplace DE&I training

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By The Fetcher Team

How to successfully implement workplace DE&I training

7 mins read

how to implement de&i training
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Companies spend tons of time and energy on developing a successful product, effective sales and marketing strategies, and seamless onboarding processes. Building a company that embraces diversity and inclusivity is no different; it requires thoughtful planning and implementation.

As October is Global Diversity Awareness Month, this month’s blog posts will focus on ways that recruiters and HR professionals can foster a workplace where everyone is respected and encouraged to do their best work. We are kicking it off with the below questions to ask (and answer) when establishing DE&I trainings. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on meaningful diversity metrics and a real-life example of how one organization deepened its commitment to DE&I with Fetcher.

Why DE&I Training is Beneficial

Potential employees first get a sense of a company’s values during the hiring process. Creating inclusive job descriptions and seeking out ways to increase diversity in your talent pool are both effective in ensuring your team includes a variety of perspectives and backgrounds.

Including DE&I training as a part of onboarding new employees is also key to building a workplace that celebrates diversity. It will reinforce the company culture and values that you communicated during the hiring process. Plus, it will demonstrate that your company isn’t just talking the talk when it comes to DE&I; you’re proactively striving to be a welcoming workplace for everyone, from day one.

The main case for DE&I training is the human case, but there are additional benefits from a business perspective. Organizations that embrace diversity make better decisions 87% of the time, which in turn leads to highly innovative teams. According to a recent SHRM survey, 52% of organizations are providing or plan to provide new training on diversity topics. As the job market becomes more and more competitive, both candidates and employees are viewing DE&I in the workplace as a necessity, rather than an afterthought. The bottom line: ignoring or not understating the value of DE&I is no longer an option for companies that want to attract and retain talent.

What information do you want to cover?

DE&I Basics

First, it’s important to understand the key elements of DE&I in today’s workplaces, and where they are present in your organization. Don’t skip over the basics, because you can’t assume that everyone has had DE&I training at previous organizations.

These include (but are definitely not limited to):

  • The meanings of key terms like diversity, equity, inclusion, allyship, and microaggression
  • How diversity training is linked to preventing workplace harassment
  • Building awareness of unconscious bias
DE&I at your organization

After reviewing the basics, you can hone in on the specifics of your organization. Obviously the focus will vary be organization, but it can include:

  • How DE&I are incorporated into your core values and company goals
  • The policies, programs, and initiatives in place that are directly tied to DE&I goals
  • Examples of DE&I challenges at your organization and how they were tackled (without calling out individual employees)

How do you want the information to be communicated?

Throwing up a generic, lengthy video on the importance of DE&I seems like the easy route. However, it probably won’t keep anyone’s attention or demonstrate your true commitment to diversity.

What the training actually looks like will vary by organization, but keep in mind a few best practices:

Make it engaging. Celebrate DE&I, rather than turn it into a lecture of what not to do. Bring in a variety of speakers from different backgrounds, have small-group discussions, and survey employees on what they’d like to see from a DE&I perspective. You can also consider removing any presumptions about "diversity training" simply by changing the name.

Make it a part of your culture. Instead of a one-time workshop or annual “Diversity Day”, weave DE&I topics and resources into your company’s regular schedule to reinforce ideas and keep them top of mind. This can be through short videos at company-wide meetings, emails that share articles on diversity in the workplace, or even by suggesting DE&I-focused reads for the company book club.

Make it company-wide. All employees need to participate in DE&I training, from the frontline up to the C-suite. The presence of leadership is crucial to demonstrate the entire organization is committed to bettering itself. You may want to require managers to complete additional training that helps them learn how to lead diverse teams.

If you have team members with proven experience with DE&I trainings, you may be able to create your own training materials and program. However, many organizations will want to bring in a third-party expert or company that specializes in DE&I for a few reasons. One, it minimizes the chance that an internal team member’s bias about their own workplace’s culture will make its way into the training. Two, the variety of options for DE&I training continues to expand; regardless of your organization’s size and budget, you can find something that works for you.

A few options include:

  • Consulting firms like The Nova Collective and Feminuity, which can help you assess your company’s DE&I training needs and implement a long-term plan for success.
  • Online learning platforms like Tralient and ViewHR that offer a wide variety of courses for remote teams. For free options, look at Coursera.
  • Apps like Allie and Medallia that allow you to gauge employee sentiment about company DE&I initiatives, so you can continue expanding and improving your programs.

When and how will you see results?

When it comes to changing peoples’ deep-rooted, sometimes unconscious biases, there’s a lot to unpack. Widespread, drastic changes don’t happen overnight because unlearning old behaviors and adopting new ones can be awkward at best, and painful at worst. The end goal behind any DE&I program should be more empathy and authenticity between team members, rather than hitting business benchmarks.

However, there are meaningful ways to measure the impact of your DE&I efforts which we will tackle in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

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