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Workplace Diversity: 3 Steps to Better Diversity Training

Posted by Surovi Dey Dhupar

Most organizations provide diversity training today—in fact, according to the Society of Human Resource Management, 68% of organizations polled have diversity training and mentoring in place. A multitude of factors have led to this need for diversity training at workplaces, including:

  • Digitization and technological developments, which have made today’s workplace more global
  • Increased diversity in the talent pool
  • Increased need for sensitivity to other people to become an inclusive workplace

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In today’s consumer age, it’s essential to represent the customer base among your own people. Customers are highly engaged in choosing the businesses they patronize—and it often starts with researching a company at the micro level—from values to leadership. To drive a truly optimized customer experience with high satisfaction, businesses have to get to know and resonate with a diverse customer base. There are many benefits of diversity training, including:

  • Better team communication
  • Better organizational culture through more sensitive and understanding employees
  • A workforce that is more adept at mirroring the present market and customers by connecting with and understanding them better
  • Shaping leaders and managers to be role models with an understanding of their own people and their needs
  • Creating a leadership team that can effectively manage employees from different backgrounds and support them in achieving personal and organizational growth
  • A healthy and thriving work atmosphere

3 Steps to Better Diversity Training

When setting up a diversity training program:

  • Ensure that trainees take a pledge to stay completely committed and to continue doing what the program requires of them. Many training program works well when participants sign up for a 30-60-90 day plan.
  • Create a rewards and recognition program for those who abide by the conditions of the program and are creating higher benchmarks. Monitor those who are sticking to the 30-60-90 day plan and recognize the participants’ achievements in relevant forums.
  • If some employees are deviating from the program, make a concerted effort to bring them to adhere to the program standards. For most training program, a well thought-through consequence management system works well.

When structuring your diversity program, the prime aspect to be considered is the roles of employees who will be involved in the training. The diversity training structure should augment the role of an employee and help them perform better. The program should be designed in such a way that it helps the trainee employees to learn essential aspects that they can incorporate in their everyday work life and help the organization achieve its goal, too.

To ensure that diversity is practiced across the organization, it’s most important that diversity be included in the organizations overall mission. Inclusion of diversity in the organizational goals helps employees understand the organizations priorities and work towards achieving those goals. To ensure better and more uniform employee compliance, diversity must be included in the company’s HR values and policies, as well.

Evaluate the Effectiveness of Your Diversity Training

  • Review your diversity training and measure its impact – The ultimate objective of any training is to develop people who in turn will help in better engagement and business performance Diversity training is no different and hence it’s important that the impact of the training is assessed from time to time. For example, if the organization is running a training program for Senior Leaders to create a more inclusive culture, conduct a feedback or survey with their teams to understand the impact of the training.
  • Make changes based on the results of your review as required however, ensure that the essence of the training (the objective with which it was started) remains unchanged.
  • Customize the content and delivery manner of your diversity training to suit the target audience and the geography where the training is happening. For example, the millenniums are more engaged when digital media is used for training while people from Gen Y may find the training more effective when learning through more traditional methods (like facilitator led sessions).
  • Keep an eye on changing market trends and make sure that your diversity training reflects these dynamic changes.

For most, understanding the need for a diverse culture isn’t inherent – it needs to be conditioned and reinforced with regular input and practice of learning. So be prepared for the long haul when setting up a diversity training program. It takes time for such abstract learning to be absorbed and applied by employees in their everyday behavior. Be patient when trying to see the return on investment – achieving diversity and inclusion in an organization cannot be rushed as a short term activity. Diversity is as essential to an organization as a sound business strategy is. Be sure to invest in it and drive it till you have achieved your goal.

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