Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices promote a more inclusive society and workplace. A recent industry report on DEI suggests that companies that promote diversity are 2.6 times more successful at retaining their workforce, whereas another report suggests that inclusive teams are 35% more productive.
A diverse and inclusive workforce values and embraces individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. DEI is not limited to just having a mix of employees with different demographics such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. It goes beyond these parameters to include diverse ways of thinking, problem-solving, inclusive communication, cultural sensitivity, and avoiding unconscious biases to name a few. Additionally, it fosters the development of an inclusive environment, promoting empathy, a sense of belonging, mutual respect, and empowerment of all employees to harness their unique strengths and perspectives.
DEI training is crucial for modern diverse workforces to help build a workplace culture where there are no biases or discrimination. This, in turn, helps organizations promote diversity, equitable treatment, inclusive decision-making processes, and educational efforts to raise awareness and foster understanding.
Importance of DEI Training for the Modern Diverse Workforce
DEI training is essential for global organizations to embrace differences by promoting cultural understanding and enabling effective collaboration. It addresses diversity-related challenges, such as language barriers, different legal frameworks, and varying social norms, by building inclusive global teams to drive innovations and achieve better outcomes.
An organization’s adherence to upholding ethical practices and respecting human rights globally helps enhance its global reputation by demonstrating its commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality on a global scale. DEI training can be useful in reducing the risk of legal and compliance issues by ensuring that employees are aware of and adhere to these standards.
By embracing DEI principles, global organizations can create an inclusive and equitable work environment that can adapt to changing markets, gain a competitive edge, and achieve success on an international scale.
6 Ways to Make DEI Training Effective
DEI training plays a pivotal role in building an inclusive environment in the workplace. However, organizations must strategically design DEI training to guarantee effectiveness. Parameters that can help organizations improve the effectiveness of their DEI training include:
Understanding an organization’s culture:
Organizations can support the integration of DEI principles into policies, processes, recruitment, performance evaluations, and decision-making. The content of DEI training should be crafted in such a manner that it addresses the needs and challenges unique to the organization, as understanding an organization’s culture creates transformation. Organizations should also encourage their employees to apply the concepts they have learned in DEI training to their everyday work for a deeper understanding.
Utilizing practical approaches for inclusion:
DEI training can be a useful tool in building a foundation for organization-wide inclusion. Therefore, it is recommended that organizations use practical approaches for inclusion, such as combining in-person workshops, online modules, videos, podcasts, and webinars, to ensure accessibility and engagement across the diverse workforce.
Tying learning to the business:
Leadership support is vital not only to support the training but also to lead by example. Getting senior leadership to demonstrate their commitment to DEI can send a powerful message and encourage employees to take DEI seriously. Organizations may also consider incorporating relatable examples that resonate with the employees to ensure alignment and understanding.
Using engaging learning formats:
Passive learning through lectures and presentations may not be as effective as interactive and participatory activities. Using interactive videos, simulations, gamification, microlearning, case studies, group discussions, role-playing, and experiential exercises are better options to engage participants and encourage active learning.
Embracing Emotional Intelligence in design learning:
This is especially useful in today’s high-strung work environments where employees’ stress levels are already high. Focusing on empathy, emotions, and self-awareness, while designing learning content, not only helps connect meaningfully with the learners but also creates a healthier, happier, and more productive workplace.
Humanizing the learning by motivating learners to participate:
When employees are provided with a safe space for open dialogue, questions, and discussions, they can better share their perspectives and experiences without fear of judgment or reprisal. Therefore, for DEI training, the focus should be to create an atmosphere that makes everyone comfortable.
Measuring Diversity Training Effectiveness
DEI training is an essential element of an organization’s overall strategy. It is, therefore, essential that DEI training is effective and delivers on the specified goals and initiatives. However, evaluating the effectiveness of training programs is a challenge for L&D professionals, as they often lack the right tools to aggregate data as well as the right methodologies. Further, the lack of a comprehensive evaluation strategy creates obstacles in linking training to development and optimizing performance.
That said, organizations expect their investments in DEI training to maximize their return on investments. Organizations must, therefore, establish a baseline, set measurable goals, and evaluate diversity training effectiveness on a continuous basis.
Some of the methods that can prove effective in evaluating and measuring diversity training effectiveness and impact of DEI training are:
Feedback is at the center of the cultural transformation that DEI training drives. Therefore, organizations must regularly seek learner feedback and employ insights to fill in any gaps and inform future training initiatives. This ensures continuous improvement in addressing the needs of learners. There are certain types of feedback that organizations can seek from the learners. These include:
- Pre- and post-learning surveys: Pre- and post-learning surveys are used to seek feedback on the training content, delivery methods, and overall learning experience. Pre-learning surveys are conducted before the training begins and are useful in establishing a starting point and identifying any knowledge gaps or misconceptions that may exist. Post-learning feedback surveys are administered after participants have completed the training program. They help assess the impact of the training and measure the changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. The comparison of responses from the pre- and post-learning surveys allows organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of the training program and identify areas of improvement. It also helps measure the knowledge gain, attitude shifts, and behavior changes that occurred as a result of the training.
- Individual interviews: Individual interviews help gain personalized and detailed insights from the participants. These interactive interviews are an opportunity to gather insights (beyond verbal responses), provide personalized understanding of the thoughts and feelings of the participants, and explore emerging themes. This, in turn, allows organizations to get immediate clarification of responses and address any ambiguities.
- Focus groups: Focus groups offer a dynamic and interactive approach to gaining feedback. They foster group dynamics and can stimulate conversation, encourage participants to build upon each other’s ideas, and uncover a range of perspectives and experiences which lead to more nuanced and holistic feedback.
- Cultural assessments: Cultural assessments provide a systematic approach to gain feedback about the culture of the participants. They help understand the cultural norms and values, facilitate dialogue and collaboration, and enhance cultural competence, which helps inform decision-making and track progress.
Use the cumulative result of the feedback received through the aforementioned methods to evaluate diversity training effectiveness. Analysis of the data can provide insights into the learners’ perceptions, such as: whether they have the same access to development and career opportunities, whether more training is required, and whether the training is effective in resolving any discrimination in the organization.
Analyze the data collected to determine if learners are able to develop the expected knowledge and if they feel more comfortable approaching workplace diversity after the training. Measuring diversity training effectiveness takes time. Since DEI is all about transformation of cultural and individual growth in an organization, it is essential to create a training evaluation process that can measure the efficacy of the learning.
Measuring the impact of an organization’s DEI initiatives will provide strategic insights for short- and long-term outcomes. Collecting and analyzing feedback help organizations identify the strengths and weaknesses in their DEI training programs and make necessary adjustments. By taking the time to measure diversity training effectiveness, organizations can enable a continuous improvement cycle that ensures that training initiatives evolve and remain relevant over time. The best results come from continually making improvements – from the leadership down.
A systematic and continuous approach to DEI training is crucial to creating a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. Similarly, an effective and process-driven DEI training can translate into positive change and help create a workplace culture where employees, with their unique backgrounds, cultures, and personalities, can attain psychological safety and establish a strong sense of belonging.
To ensure that the DEI training meets its objectives, it is essential to evaluate diversity training effectiveness through continuous feedback, analysis, and improvements. Organizations must adopt a policy-driven and leadership-backed DEI training strategy to build a more engaged, productive, and harmonious workforce.
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