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How to Build a Successful Diversity Training Program for Your Employees

Read on to learn how a successful Diversity Training Program can greatly benefit your employees and the organization as a whole.

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Diversity and inclusion in the workplace have become a crucial focus for businesses over the last decade. Employees, no matter their position in the business or their background, need to feel respected, as well as provided with equal opportunities for growth and advancement.

One of the best ways for businesses to achieve this is through diversity training programs - also known as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs (DEI).

Designed to promote positive employee engagement, successful diversity programs will train employees on how to reduce discrimination and biases throughout the workplace.

In this article, we'll look at how to build a successful diversity training program for your employees and create a more welcoming and inclusive workplace culture.

What is a diversity training program? 

A DEI program focuses on helping teams understand and appreciate diversity. This typically covers how to identify and correct biases - conscious and unconscious - to avoid workplace diversity issues and ensure underrepresented people or groups are not marginalized. It should also help teach communication strategies and inclusive leadership, and build a respectful work environment overall. 

Ultimately, the goals of the best diversity training programs are to increase understanding, ensuring all voices are heard and no one is overlooked based on their background or identity.

Creating a diversity training program

Let’s have a look at the core stepping stones to help you create a comprehensive diversity training program for your employees. Remember, this program should be for everyone - business owners and temporary employees alike!

1. Understand diversity and inclusion training programs and how they can work for you

You cannot create a good diversity training program without understanding what it is or why it matters. 

Some people may think of diversity in quite limited terms - for instance, thinking solely about gender equality in the workplace. However, no DEI program is complete unless it addresses multiple aspects of diversity:

  • Age
  • Gender identities
  • Ethnicity
  • Race
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Physical and mental ability
  • Socioeconomic status

Next, your training must align with your company’s values, goals, and overall mission. Your inclusion training program needs to seamlessly integrate with your company’s principles to create a cohesive and authentic culture. Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be viewed as buzzwords but as fundamental aspects of how business is conducted.

2. Define the goals and objectives

As with any training program, you should have clear goals and objectives. This can help you create the ‘syllabus’, and work out what to focus on. They also help you check how effective the program is, as it gives you something to measure. These objectives can include:

  • Increasing diversity in leadership positions
  • Improving the representation of underrepresented groups through inclusive hiring practices 
  • Reducing unconscious bias and discriminatory behaviors such as sexual harassment
  • Promoting cultural awareness and understanding of diversity issues
  • Building an inclusive work environment
  • Strengthening retention rates, particularly among diverse talent
  • Aligning diversity initiatives with the company’s mission and values

To achieve these goals effectively, businesses can integrate ESG software solutions to analyze data on employee demographics, retention rates, promotion patterns, and other relevant factors. 

3. Hire experts in the DEI training field

Once your goals and objectives are set, you need to find a professional to deliver them. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming a member of an underrepresented group will want to run them for you - that’s the equivalent of asking the only woman in your marketing meeting ‘what the ladies will think of this’ (don’t do that either 😬).

After all, if you were running training on something like cybersecurity or SOX compliance requirements, you wouldn’t just ask an employee who is somewhat familiar with the topic and hope they were willing. Why should workplace diversity be any different? You want experts and skilled communicators with a deep understanding of the topic. You could even use online diversity training courses such as those from the SHRM-certified Compliance Training Group (CTG).

As well as helping with the training aspect, experts may also be able to offer valuable insights, best practices, and innovative strategies to address diversity and inclusion challenges within your company culture and organization. 

4. Provide the necessary resources

By this point, you will need to prepare all the necessary resources to ensure the delivery of your diversity training is spot on. As well as booking speakers, make sure you provide access to relevant reading materials, arrange facilities, and prepare technology as required.

If you have a remote team, make sure to include them through a virtual telephone system or video platform. Additionally, you will need to arrange access to online learning platforms and resources that they can explore at their own pace.                                                            

If your training session is being held in a physical location, ensure that it's prepared accordingly  - and somewhere people with disabilities can access it. For example, arrange seating in a way that encourages interaction and engagement among participants. 

Lastly, don't forget to provide sufficient time for employees to review the training materials and familiarize themselves with the content before the training begins. 

5. Keep your diversity awareness training going

Reminders of training scenarios from colleagues or external sources can help reinforce learned information. To help with this, you could have some 'quizzes' towards the end of training to assess how well the material has been learned - for instance, ask about the benefits of diverse groups, workplace ethics, and different types of bias. Knowing what sank in (and what didn't!) can help you plan future sessions.

Other than that:

  • Make diversity and inclusion part of everyday work life. Instead of occasional workshops, integrate diversity and inclusion training initiatives into daily operations with ongoing programs, diversity and inclusion activities events, and mentorship programs. 
  • See workshops as part of a bigger picture. Understand that diversity workshops are just one piece of a broader effort to promote diversity and inclusion. Successful companies know that training alone isn't enough; it's also about how the message is delivered and integrated into the company's culture.

Be sure to remind them when their refresher session is coming up too. You can do this by pinging a scheduled email reminder or using a Constant Contact alternative.

6. Collect and consider employee feedback

It should come as no surprise that gathering employee feedback is an essential part of finding out what worked and what didn’t during training. Diverse perspectives and feedback from employees are crucial for assessing the effectiveness of your basic diversity training program and identifying areas for improvement. 

Provide anonymous post-training surveys to participants to gather their insights on the relevance and effectiveness of the training content. Analyzing survey responses will help you measure the impact of training and make necessary adjustments.

The key is to create opportunities for employees to provide feedback - whether that’s through channels like suggestion boxes or one-to-one catch-ups. Just be sure that your website is secure before you start collecting personal data and feedback.

Start building an inclusive culture today 🎉

Diversity training is not a single three-hour workshop but an ongoing journey of learning and improvement. It takes time, dedication, and continuous learning, but the benefits are worth it. By creating a personalized and meaningful diversity training program, you’re one step closer to creating a positive and inclusive environment where individuals from all diverse backgrounds feel valued, respected, and heard.

Add some DEI team building experiences to your diversity training program. Contact [email protected] to find the perfect experience for your team’s needs.
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