January 14, 2021
The movement for racial and social justice and a global pandemic has focused a spotlight on diversity training and its role in building a workplace culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). As part of a multipronged strategy, diversity training can be a valuable tool in the DEI toolbox to engage, educate and motivate employees to be more inclusive in their thinking and actions.
A modern, interactive approach to training offers HR leaders new ways to:
1. Amplify senior leadership’s commitment
Diversity & sensitivity training provides CEOs and senior leaders with a dynamic platform for communicating the organization’s commitment to DEI, the importance of everyone participating in training and other initiatives, and setting expectations for behavior.
2. Raise awareness of unconscious bias
Unconscious bias or implicit bias − hidden attitudes based on social stereotypes which everyone has − is another concept that is part of the conversation on race, discrimination and DEI. Managing unconscious bias begins with making employees and managers more aware of their biases and providing practical insights and actions to minimize their influence on workplace decisions and interactions.
3. Address workplace microaggressions
Microaggressions are subtle slights, snubs or insults — whether intentional or unintentional — that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages about a co-worker’s race, gender, age, sexual orientation or other characteristic. Often stemming from unconscious bias, there’s nothing ‘micro’ about the impact of microaggressions. They may appear to be a compliment, but they perpetuate stereotypes and can negatively affect an employee’s engagement, mental and physical health and productivity. Training raises awareness and understanding of what microaggressions are, the different forms they take and constructive ways to respond as a target, bystander or perpetuator.
4. Promote cultural competency
Educating employees on cultural competency − the ability to interact effectively with people of different backgrounds, cultures, races, genders, beliefs and experiences – goes to the heart of fostering a culture of belonging. Promoting the benefits of collaborating with a wide range of people and being sensitive to the differences and comfort levels of others removes a major barrier to inclusive teamwork and decision-making.
As part of a multipronged DEI strategy, diversity training can play a meaningful role in raising awareness and understanding of what employees, teams and organizations can do to create a more inclusive, equitable workplace culture for everyone.