If you’re looking to start, expand, or enhance your company’s diversity and inclusion training, look no further! This post is your guide to effective diversity training that actually works.
In this post, you’ll find guidance, best practices, and ideas to create an effective diversity training program. With these resources, you’ll be on your way to building an even more inclusive, welcoming, and affirming workplace culture.
A few of our favorite effective diversity training ideas:
Read on for more details on these ideas, and additional ideas!
- Include your team in the planning process
- Hire an expert to lead a diversity-related training course
- Dig into the data on creating diverse teams & inclusive cultures
- Uncover and address your own biases
- Celebrate what makes each team member unique while finding common ground
In this list, you’ll find:
- How to get employees excited about diversity training
- Why DEI training matters
- Examples of DEI training approaches and tactics that work
- How to create an inclusive environment for employees
- Best practices for planning diversity, equity, and inclusion activities
Watch the 5-minute video below for highlights and tips on effective diversity team building and training at work. Then, read on for all the details!
Effective Diversity Training that Works
How to Get Your Workforce Excited About Diversity Training
To start, your workforce’s excitement for diversity training in the workplace is vital to an effective outcome. The term “diversity” may have a spectrum of meanings among your employees. It is important to acknowledge that your employees will enter training with different definitions and levels of emotional openness.
Before jumping in, be sure to share with employees the company’s diversity training goals. Clarity around your intentions for diversity training will create a basis for honest communication and help you effectively achieve your collective goals.
Get your workforce excited about diversity training by making it an essential part of your company culture. By creating an environment that welcomes employees of all backgrounds, companies allow people to be their authentic selves. This is critical when it comes to fostering respectful and open conversations. Additionally, creating an inclusive workplace can help with employee recruitment and retention.
When employees are free to be themselves throughout the office, your workspace will value diversity as a point of pride. Your environment will welcome differences and benefit all. When individuals are proud of what they bring to the table, excitement will build for growing together.
Creating a culture that values employee engagement will naturally build excitement. Empower employees to practice kindness, empathy, and openness with one another. Not only can this enhance your diversity training, but your company’s success as a whole.
Diversity Training Topics
Diversity training can cover a multitude of topics that reflect parts of people’s personal identities and backgrounds. Many trainings aim to address characteristics of employee groups such as:
- Sexual orientation
- Physical ability
- Socioeconomic status
When discussing these topics, it is important to remember that the goal is not to simply tolerate differences. Effective diversity training should aim for employees’ perspectives to incorporate accepting one another. In addition, teams should openly acknowledge and value differences among team members. The aim of diversity training is to incorporate these values and foster a culture of respectful employee communication.
Benefits of Diversity Training for your Workforce
A diverse organization has been shown to outperform companies with little to no effort behind growing diverse workforces and cultures. Research shows that diversity changes companies for the better. From growing performance measures to heightened innovation and creativity, there is a long list of benefits your company can gain.
In addition, employees at diverse companies tend to be more engaged and committed throughout their work and time at a company. There are many challenges to this today with new trends such as “quiet quitting.” Plus, today’s workforce has five active generations requiring training like never before. Intentional efforts around diversity bring huge benefits to today’s companies of all sizes.
Check out McKinsey & Company’s report, Diversity wins: How inclusion matters, for the research showing the long-term benefits of diversity and its effects.
Different Approaches to Diversity Training
What makes diversity programs effective? This is an exceedingly important question to answer as companies are investing larger than ever budgets to provide training for employees.
Visionary ideas and confidence in risk-taking were once the standards for company culture and leadership. Today, the focus has shifted to valuing one’s inclusiveness and emotional intelligence. Today’s top approaches to diversity training highlight the latter more than ever.
Let’s dive into these approaches and what they offer for team training.
Approach Type 1: Building Awareness and Understanding
A commonly used approach focuses on addressing one’s own attitudes and perceptions. Education is at the forefront of this approach. It aims to teach participants about concepts such as stereotypes and highlight the biases that individual employees may hold.
One activity that has been used for several years in this approach is the Harvard Implicit Association Test. This online test presents a plethora of questions aimed at bringing unknown biases to the front of the mind. This approach offers individuals insight into recognizing stereotypes and biases that the test taker holds.
By bringing attention to one’s own biases, this training approach seeks to decline prejudice against people in marginalized groups. At the same time, it is important to note that this approach takes further steps to be effective in the long run.
How to Make this Approach Effective
Though frequently used, this approach can fall flat if the gap between gaining awareness and taking action is not closed. It is not enough to simply gain awareness. Without action to change biased views and behavior, this type of training can even become harmful.
Due to this, empowering employees to take actionable steps upon uncovering held biases and stereotypes is imperative. Training should offer tactics for managing biases, steps for changing behavior, and long-term guides for individuals to track their progress.
Another key to finding effective outcomes from this approach is employees extending the learning process past one training session. Changes cannot always be made overnight, especially when they require emotional growth.
Building awareness and understanding amongst your employees will require a workplace that welcomes experimentation for behaviors and skills. It requires an environment for honest and respectful feedback. Space for employees to learn from one another and gain feedback about their behavior. Furthermore, it is key to not create an environment of stress and shame while encouraging action.
Dive deeper into building effective training on unconscious bias with the insight from The Harvard Business Review article, Unconscious Bias Training That Works.
Approach Type 2: Perspective-Based Training
A second type of diversity training is focusing on bringing people together. Different than the first approach, this angle highlights similarities that bring people together, rather than the differences between identity groups.
Perspective-based training incorporates group learning. This tactic aims to directly immerse individuals in diversity. Forbes’ article Diversity Training Works But Not Necessarily: What Works, What Doesn’t states, “this approach is very powerful from a psychological perspective.”
A commonly utilized activity in this approach is to create spaces for employees to meet new groups of people. Interacting with groups that one might normally not expands one’s viewpoint. The goal of these interactions is to get to know one another better through conversation. It puts the action at the forefront of the training.
In real time, participants can recognize biases and stereotypes that may arise in their minds. Then, employees bring attention to how their actions correspond. The goal is for employees to learn from the social dynamics and to begin building better behaviors during the training. Through in-depth conversations, individuals are able to learn from one another and gain insight into diversity on a personal level.
How to Make this Approach Effective
These activities, just like the first approach, require a space for feedback. It is not effective to host training that only leaves people with interactions filled with microaggressions and negative feelings. To make this approach effective, training must highlight the growth of soft skills among your team.
Soft skills such as empathetic listening and growing one’s perception are key to this training type. With these skills, employees can enjoy interactions with one another that highlight the humanity amongst our differences. Connections can be made on similar experiences, viewpoints, or histories.
This experiential approach allows employees to appreciate the differences among one another. Facilitating training that begins with social interactions may seem like jumping into the deep end. However, it is a surefire way to build community and comfort with diversity.
Just like the approach of building awareness and understanding, perspective-based training required a workplace that welcomes honesty and respectful feedback. When interacting with different people, behaviors and actions may need to be called to attention. Creating a culture that encourages employees to share and gain feedback with one another will provide the most effective diversity training.
Transforming Diversity Training Into Long-Term Culture Shifts for Your Company
As mentioned above, when planning your diversity training efforts, it is important to outline your company goals. The effectiveness of training can be swayed by what you hope to achieve with your workforce. Moreover, by outlining clear goals, your employees are able to collectively strive towards growth together.
After setting goals for effective diversity training, be open to exploring how to achieve your success. Keep in mind that raising awareness might not be enough. Incorporate action plans for training that focus on constructive, real change. To gain long-lasting impact, training must incorporate intentional interactions with a diverse set of employees.
Moreover, training must be continuous. Diversity training is never effective when treated as a one-step assignment. Your company culture will not be affected by training that does not engage employees on an ongoing basis. For best results, incorporate employee feedback at every step and throughout the decision-making process.
Employee buy-in is critical to effective diversity training. Without the excitement and willingness of employee participation, any effort can be misguided. Be encouraging of employee engagement for both training and building your company culture together.
After all, your diversity comes from your people. Focus on your people and what they need and want for your training. Customize your efforts to fit your teams. Check out Vervoe’s list of 39 Awesome Companies Leading the Way in Diversity to gain insight as you set your diversity training goals.
Still not sure where to start when it comes to DEI team building?
Unexpected Virtual Tours offers unique, turnkey virtual programs on a wide variety of DEI topics. From Black History Month and Women’s History Month to LBGTQIA+ Pride, Juneteenth, Hispanic Heritage Month, and more – these interactive sessions are designed to spark meaningful conversations and culture shifts.
Additionally, programs come with add-on treat boxes (pictured above). 90% of our treat box items are created by BIPOC-owned and women-owned companies, so your session will have an even greater impact on diversity in the workplace!
Book with us today to see why some of the world’s most successful companies come to Unexpected Virtual Tours for their diversity training!