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How To Build An Effective & Inclusive Diversity Training Program

How to Build an Effective & Inclusive Diversity Training Program

Use this guide to build an effective & inclusive diversity training program for your team. DEI training can enhance workplace culture, employee relations, and even profitability!

Diversity and inclusion are words that have become increasingly popular in the modern workplace. Before building diversity training in the workplace, it is important to define these terms. In short, diversity and inclusion acknowledge the presence of things that differ from one another and intentionally involve and welcome differences.

Read on to learn how to create an effective workplace diversity training that will benefit your company, your employees, and your community.

There are many amazing reasons to plan a diversity and inclusion training, such as:

  • Effective diversity training empowers employees to be themselves in the workplace
  • Awareness training creates a more inclusive workplace culture
  • Diversity training creates a company culture of embracing one another’s differences 
  • Successful diversity training programs foster collaboration and teamwork
  • Workplace diversity training can be customized for every industry
  • Inclusion and diversity training benefit both the workplace and the community at large

In this guide, you’ll find:

  • How to build an effective and inclusive diversity, equity, and inclusion training
  • Tips on how to assess the diversity and inclusion training needs of your organization
  • Steps to designing your workplace diversity training for employees
  • Planning successful diversity and inclusion training for managers
  • How to implement diversity and inclusivity culture development programs
  • Strategies to evaluate the effectiveness of your diversity and inclusion training program


how to create a diversity training program

1. Assessing the Needs of Your Organization

Careful preparation prior to designing your diversity training program can help ensure it’s a success for all involved. First, assess the needs of your organization. Before you can build your training, you must identify where your team or company could use some additional education, training, and connection.

Ideas to consider when preparing for your training include noting the training styles that best engage your employees and the level of comfort your employees have in talking about diversity issues in the workplace. Additionally, consider any past or current hurdles your company may be facing when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Or, any specific training that employees have requested.

Assessing your organizational needs like these and more will help in creating a modern, customized strategy for an effective and successful DEI training!

Define the Goals and Objectives of the Training Program

Next, work to define the goals and objectives for your training program. Clear goals will help to guide you throughout the training development process. Goals and objectives to consider include:

  • Increase employee awareness about different types of diversity or specific topics
  • Gain greater appreciation and understanding of coworker diversity
  • Provide training strategies for employee’s interpersonal communication skills 
  • Incorporate DEI sensitivity in recruitment and management training
  • Initiate DEI policies in interview training and the hiring process
  • Foster a diverse culture of belonging amongst employees 
  • Update organizational policies on diversity issues

Outlining your company’s goals and objectives for your diversity training help to provide a clear guide of what topics to address and specific measures to test effectiveness later on. 

Check out Vervoe’s list of 39 Awesome Companies Leading the Way in Diversity to gain insight as you set your diversity goals.

diversity and inclusion training

Gather and Consider Feedback from Employees

Intentionally gathering and considering feedback from employees is another important step in preparing for your training. As a result, you can analyze the current state of diversity and inclusion in your workplace. 

Consider dispersing individual surveys to employees at all levels of your organization via a tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. Questions can include what topics staff would like to see incorporated into trainings. Or, how could the company’s culture of diversity and inclusion improve?

You can also conduct interviews or provide a virtual suggestion box. Plan to tap into topics that are mentioned most frequently and ways employees view the organization’s culture can grow.

2. Designing the Diversity Training Program

Once you have assessed the needs of your organization, you are ready to start creating a diversity and inclusion training program. First, select the training format that best suites your employees. Then, determine the content and subjects you will be covering. From there, create a comprehensive training plan with timelines and milestones for long term success.

Read on for more details on how to effectively move through this process and design your diversity training program for employees!

workplace diversity training

Select an Appropriate Format

Choosing the appropriate format for your organization is vital to preparing a successful training. Today, training formats include e-learning modules, webinars, interactive games, guest speaker sessions, and more! 

Helpful guidelines to choosing the best fit for your teams include considering how your employees learn best, how your employees enjoy engaging with one another, and determining your training budget. The answers to these questions can guide you in choosing the best type of diversity training format to engage your team!

You can also choose to go with one method, then get feedback and recalibrate for the next session. After all, your diversity comes from your people. Focus on your people and what they need and want for your training, and customize your efforts to fit your teams.

For more ideas, tap into these examples of effective diversity training! And, for turnkey DEI team building sessions, check out our ready-made virtual programs designed just for teams like yours.

Determine the Content and Subjects to be Covered 

Your diversity and inclusion training program can include a wide range of topics. Whether you are starting with the DEI basics or are interested in digging deeper, there are specific topics you won’t want to miss. Check out this list of diversity and inclusion topics to potentially include in your training:

  • Unconscious bias and implicit bias
  • Microaggressions in the workplace
  • Combatting stereotypes and racial biases 
  • Diversity and inclusion policies
  • Racial sensitivity
  • Intentional inclusion
  • Accessibility
  • Identity topics including race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, and more

Be sure to include the topics of interest shared through employee feedback when determining your training content!

diversity training programs

Create a Comprehensive Training Plan

Once you have established the topics your diversity training will cover, create a comprehensive training plan. 

Comprehensive training plans can include lesson plans, course materials, and other resources. Furthermore, your comprehensive plan should include all the content you plan to teach, discuss, and incorporate throughout your training process. This plan will help you to execute training effectively and smoothly.

In addition, incorporate a broad range of course materials within your lesson plans to keep employees engaged. Materials can include worksheets, online videos, webinars, surveys, polls, group discussions, games, definition sheets, and more! 

Check out these virtual diversity and inclusion activities for effective ways to put content into action!

Establish Timelines and Milestones

To avoid training pitfalls, establish realistic timelines and milestones for your diversity training strategy. This will keep the program on track and ensure that it’s delivered within a specific timeframe. 

When determining your timelines, be sure to incorporate employee schedules. You do not want to make training inconvenient by being too frequent or causing delays to ongoing work. At the same time, avoid hosting trainings too infrequently if your aim is to make diversity, equity, and inclusion ongoing topics of discussion.

Take careful consideration when creating your training timelines and milestones. We encourage incorporating employee feedback in this process. This allows all voices to be heard and encourages employee buy-in from the start.

3. Implementing the Diversity Training Program

Now you are ready to implement your diversity training in the workplace! Remember to share clear communication, provide easy-to-access resources, and encourage employee engagement to complete your effective and inclusive DEI training program!

inclusion and diversity training

Communicate the Program to Employees

Do not spring training upon staff. This may lead to resentment and disinterest. Instead, properly communicate with your teams what you will be expecting of them. In addition, begin communicating weeks in advance of the training.  

An effective communication plan can include email announcements, calendar invites, posters, internal chat messages, verbal reminders, and more! This communication can even share content previews for guest speakers and activities. Or, send pre-training readings and materials to prepare employees for training topics.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to share articles related to training topics you plan to lead, such as The Harvard Business Review article, Unconscious Bias Training That Works. Gaining insights from other effective training may help to prepare your team to dive deeper together.

Lastly, begin your training by communicating the agenda and desired outcomes your employees. It is important to not keep information hidden from employees so they can know what to expect.

Provide the Necessary Resources

Next, prepare all necessary resources for your diversity training program ahead of time. This can include course materials, booking facilities and speakers, and preparing technology. 

No matter the format of your training program, you will need items to make it successful. Review your comprehensive training plan to know what you will need throughout all training sessions.

If you are utilizing printed materials, be sure to have these ready the day of. Or, if you plan to have a guest speaker, collaborate with them ahead of time. Ensure you have all needed technology for their presentation such as microphones and screens.

If your training will take place online, have all needed websites and links queued to share with employees. In addition, if you plan to utilize virtual video calls or webinars during training, be sure to let employees know that they will be expected to be on camera and joining discussions.

diversity and inclusion training program

Schedule and Conduct the Training Sessions

Scheduling your training sessions in advance is vital to ensuring participation among employees. Be sure that employees know well in advance when they will be expected to participate in training, and aim for a time that’s convenient for most people.

To make access to the schedule as easy as possible, one strategy is to utilize the platforms your company already uses on a regular basis. Examples include calendar invites and verbal announcements in team meetings. In addition, we encourage sending reminder emails for upcoming sessions. 

Once scheduled, make the most out of your trainings. Sessions should empower your employees to participate and gain knowledge. To set yourself up for the most effective trainings, create a conducive learning environment, manage attendance and participation, and deliver content in an engaging way. You can also use interactive tools like the chat box and hand raise feature found in many video call platforms to boost engagement.

Encourage Participation and Engagement

Engaging employees might not always be an easy task. Especially with other projects, deadlines, and emails on their mind. To break through this barrier, encourage participation and engagement from employees in every step of the training program. 

Utilize group activities, interactive games, and even quizzes to keep employees engaged. For example, game-based learning platforms like Kahoot can turn learning and implementing new information fun for all during webinars. 

In addition, avoid speaking directly at your employees. This does not create an inviting environment to collaborate or stay mentally present. Instead, encourage employees to actively share throughout your session, prompt your team into physical movement if they are able, and create a variety of activities to keep people interested.

4. Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Diversity Training Program

Evaluating your diversity training programs is essential in measuring their effectiveness. Training should not be implemented to simply check off a box. Rather, your organization should routinely evaluate your company’s diversity and inclusion growth throughout the training process.

Read on to set yourself up for success by developing an evaluation framework that measures the impact of programs, gathers employee feedback, and more!

effective diversity training program

Develop an Evaluation Framework

Develop an evaluation framework that includes specific metrics. Metrics can include participant satisfaction, learning outcomes, behavioral changes, and more!

By outlining specific evaluation measures, you can consistently track your organizational DEI progress. When choosing specific metrics, select quantifiable outcomes. For example, create a scale from 1 to 10 when measuring participant satisfaction. This will allow data to be easily readable and comparable across teams and sessions, allowing changes to be implemented if needed.

Bear in mind, not all DEI topics can be quantified. It may be a challenge for participants to reflect an experience onto a scale. Be sure to include feedback options such as open text fields that can be incorporated into your evaluation framework.

Measure the Impact of the Program

Measuring the impact of your diversity program is a great way to ensure its effectiveness. Tools to measure your impact can include surveys, focus groups, or interviews with participants and stakeholders. 

We suggest using a variety of ways to measure your program impact. This ensures that feedback is robust and offers perspectives from individuals and groups. Plus, past training measurements play a vital role in planning future programs and workshops!

A study by Statista found that finances put toward employee training in the United States grew to 42.4 billion by the year 2020. Measuring the impact of your training is an important tool to know you are getting a return on your investment.

diversity training for employees

Gather Feedback From Employees

It is important to gather feedback from employees and other stakeholders about your diversity training programs. Collecting feedback provides insight into what types of training your employees enjoy, what topics may need further discussion, and ensures employee input is not hidden from management. 

Through surveys and focus groups, collect unfiltered feedback from all or a broad range of employees willing to share their experiences. As a result, you will be better equipped to measure your impact and provide enhanced future training.

Keep in mind that your responses may be more forthcoming and honest when employees are allowed to share feedback anonymously.

Use the Feedback to Improve the Training Program

Use the feedback you receive from employees to make necessary changes to your diversity training program. It is important to make ongoing improvements to your training program, both to keep up with your company’s needs and to keep pace with an ever-changing world.

As a result, you can ensure your training effectiveness and employee satisfaction. Training materials should act as living, breathing documents. Don’t be afraid of change. Allow your training to grow and enhance over time, knowing it only benefits your employees and your organization.

diversity and inclusion training for managers

How to Ensure Inclusivity in Your Training Program

LinkedIn defines inclusivity as “the idea that making employees feel valued and safe at work is every employer’s responsibility. It fosters employee uniqueness and allows leaders to create effective teams by embracing each employee’s individual qualities and being open to every employee’s feedback.” 

Inclusivity is essential to creating an effective diversity training program. Inclusivity allows all employees to authentically be themselves in the workspace. In addition, an inclusive workplace culture fosters open communication and respect for all people’s identities.

Ensure inclusivity throughout your training program by setting clear expectations of respect and polite communication amongst employees. Otherwise, employees may feel deterred or unsafe from participating in DEI training activities and webinars. 

You can also incorporate different learning styles and methods. For instance, some participants might love sharing about themselves, while others may feel put on the spot. Some team members may learn best by listening, while others learn by doing. Aim for some variety to keep everyone engaged and serve all learning styles and ability levels.

Avoid Common Mistakes and Pitfalls

Actively avoid common mistakes and pitfalls that could undermine inclusivity in your diversity training programs. Common mistakes include using jargon, making assumptions, and stereotyping. 

These actions can create misunderstanding and potentially harmful effects to individuals and groups. To avoid these mistakes, be sure to frequently update training terminology and activities. By doing so, you can avoid mistakes that undermine your organization’s inclusivity.

If you realize that you did make a mistake during your session, take ownership and share how you’ll do things differently moving forward. After all – DEI training sessions are all about learning more and evolving processes to create a more equitable work environment.

dei training at work

Incorporate Diverse Perspectives in the Program

It is important to incorporate diverse perspectives throughout your diversity training program. Do this by highlighting different voices, perspectives, and experiences. As a result, you will create a more comprehensive program.

To broaden your training sessions, incorporate speakers, videos, and webinars that reflect experts and viewpoints from people of all backgrounds. This includes content from a range of genders, racial backgrounds, ages, abilities, and more. Take inclusive action by giving all backgrounds an active voice throughout your training.

Check out McKinsey & Company’s report, Diversity wins: how inclusion matters, for the research showing the long-term benefits of diversity and the effects of diverse perspectives in the workplace.

Address Sensitive Topics

Diversity training programs often address sensitive topics, and it is important to be prepared to address sensitive topics as they arise. When addressing these topics, it is vital to create a safe and respectful environment.

As a result, this allows participants to engage in open and honest discussions. Be sure to set clear communication boundaries before diving into training. 

Addressing sensitive topics may make employees uncomfortable at times. Be open and honest about this. Encourage employees in open dialogue around emotions that arise. By initiating a safe and respectful environment, employees will be more likely to engage.

safe and welcoming environment diversity training training

Create a Safe and Welcoming Environment for All Participants 

Create a safe and welcoming environment for all participants in your diversity training program. This includes creating a supportive and inclusive atmosphere. Plus, provide opportunities for all participants to engage and ask questions.

In addition, consider instilling communication guidelines such as asking employees to use “I” language, refraining from generalizing, and approaching the conversation with sensitivity when asking questions. By creating clear expectations of employee engagement, your training offers a more safe and welcoming environment.

Does Inclusion and Diversity Training Actually Work?

This is a common question throughout diverse workforces. Many are speculative about the true effectiveness of diversity training and dedicating the resources needed that must go into it to make it effective. But the answer is yes – when done correctly!

For inclusion and diversity training to actually work, it’s important to actively assess whether or not the training was effective. Ways to do that include collecting data from employee feedback, being open to diversifying your training approach, and experimenting with training techniques. 

Your training should never be stagnant. Ensure that the effort your company puts into diversity training is effective by continuously monitoring employee changes, satisfaction, and being willing to change tactics when necessary.

Check out The Harvard Business Review’s report, Does Diversity Training Work the Way It’s Supposed To?, for more on whether or not inclusion and diversity training actually works!

Build an Effective Diversity Training Program with Unexpected Virtual Tours

In summary, this guide outlines how to best build an effective diversity training. Steps include:

  1. Assess the diversity needs of your organization
  2. Design a comprehensive training plan specific to your company needs
  3. Execute training with clear communication, engaging activities, and promote a safe and welcoming environment that encourages employee participation

Ready to get started? Unexpected Virtual Tours is here to help!

virtual dei training program

Our radically creative DEI team building events offer live, interactive diversity experiences unlike any other! We embed DEI training concepts into a host of group activities tailored for you. In other words, your employees will want to attend our diversity events!

We know most diversity training fails because employees aren’t engaged. As a result, they don’t retain the information and put it into practice. In contrast to this, our experiences get your team responding, creating, and collaborating!

Our live-streaming guides will lead your team through cultural history, encourage learning, and actively promote employee engagement. Plus, our DEI sessions are specifically designed to help your team consider perspectives and lived experiences that may be outside their own. Explore topics like Black History, Pride Month, Asian-American heritage, women’s history, and so much more.

Ready to start building your diversity and inclusion program? Browse the Unexpected Virtual Tours catalog of virtual DEI team building experiences! From DEI topics and cultural holidays, our virtual programs are trusted by teams at Google, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, UPS, and more.