A lot of people are interested in diversity training now. It is the “hot” thing in many industries, especially in the awakening of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killings. America is officially “woke” to some degree. At a minimum, organizations realize that racism is not productive and that in 2020 you can not ignore the disruptive nature of both real and perceived workplace discrimination. Human resources directors are rushing out to find qualified or sometimes the cheapest trainer they can find. Some, not all, are just checking off the boxes to appease workers who are upset, who feel unheard, and who are daily fighting to stay motivated in oppressive workplace systems. If you are looking to check off that, “Yeah, we did workplace diversity and inclusion training” box, then stop reading this post. I am not the trainer for you. There are many folks out there that are happy to take your money and move on. But if your human resource department or diversity, equity, and inclusion office are serious about DEI, then you need to consider the different types of diversity training that are available and the solutions they offer your organization.
Diversity training effectiveness depends on the specific training method used, the personality characteristics of those who are trained, and the specific outcomes that are measured after training concludes.
Have a clear purpose for every activity and training that you commit too. Successful DEI is not throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. It would be best if you had a clearly defined strategy. Everyone from the janitor to the CEO needs to understand the purpose of the training and the desired “change” that the company or organization hopes to occur.
Here is a list of the different types of diversity, equity, and inclusion workplace training that your institution or organization might consider. This list is not exhaustive, and many companies follow through the levels simultaneously.
Basic Diversity Training (Awareness & Knowledge)
Basic diversity training programs focus mainly on generating understanding and empathy related to issues of culture and identity. Basic training programs might not change workplace behavior, but it will create a common understanding and an awareness of expectations. You can’t skip this step if you want to create an organizational culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Common Ground—is the first step in defining terms, values, and priorities. This training jump-starts change in your organization and gets everyone on the same page.
- Facilitated Town Halls—a non-threatening way to bring out issues, layout contextual challenges, let people be heard, and give important feedback for the needs or pain-points in the organization.
- Cultural Sensitivity Training—helps participants become aware of other cultures and lifestyles to increase empathy among co-workers. The training may help address the elephant in the room: Poor cross-cultural communication, resentment, and competition for advancement opportunities.
- Human Resource Compliance Training—is basically how not to get sued or how not to get fired training. It gives employees the legal basis for DEI compliance.
Intermediate Diversity Training (Knowledge & Skills)
Intermediate diversity training begins to give employees and members the tools they need to implement changes and create an inclusive organizational culture. More than awareness, this training should leave people in the workplace with tangible skills and a deeper understanding of working with people who are “different.” Generally, the organization should expect a measurable shift in perspective and behavior. Also, expect some forward momentum in changing institutional culture. Not only is personal behavior discussed, but systemic issues are addressed as part of this training.
- Unconscious/Implicit Bias—identify and mitigating bias in the workplace.
- Accommodation—working with people who have different beliefs, values, or abilities and how to address the necessary workplace accommodations.
- Microaggressions and belonging—is about learning how to communicate and collaborate in a way that avoids harmful stereotypes, implicit bias-based expectations, and actions that create a hostile workplace.
- Inclusive management, allyship, inclusive Interview, and hiring—training supervisors and workers to identify and address overt and covert acts of discrimination. This can include specific skill-based training and planning for human resource managers and diversity officers to dismantle biased systems and practices within the institution.
- Intercultural Communication—communicating across cultures and understanding how cultural expectations and conflict influence the communication process.
Advanced Concepts (Action/Advocacy)
- Specific anti-oppression training (Anti-racism, anti-sexism, sexual discrimination, etc.)
- Leading diverse teams—specific training to give supervisors the skills they need to successfully lead an increasingly diverse workforce in a society where individuals are increasingly aware of their cultural identities.
Sign up to learn more about Glen’s online course Leadership Diversified, coming soon.
- Community and industry engagement—connecting organizational values beyond the institution, but to the community it serves. This training helps organizations that want to move beyond internal change but are connecting their DEI goals to being more inclusive related to clients, providers, and the respective industry.
- Senior management training/coaching—institutional change starts at the top. Senior leaders need to be skilled in DEI. Sometimes upper management may wish to add more diversity, but there are barriers. An outside consultant can be the first step in bringing in diverse viewpoints or helping leaders “safely” thing through pressing issues.
Never forget there is a cost to doing DEI wrong. In business, we cannot afford to waste time nor resources. Are you ready to go deeper and accomplish your mission with less stress, reduced risk, and greater efficiency?
Make sure you check out my post on Four Questions You Should Ask When Developing Your Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, as you plan your next steps.
Glen is a qualified administrator (QA) of the Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®). The Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®) is the premier cross-cultural assessment of intercultural competence that is used by thousands of individuals and organizations to build intercultural competence to achieve international and domestic diversity and inclusion goals and outcomes. IDI research in organizations and educational institutions confirms two central findings when using the IDI:
- Interculturally competent behavior occurs at a level supported by the individual’s or group’s underlying orientation as assessed by the IDI.
- Training and leadership development efforts at building intercultural competence are more successful when they are based on the individual’s or group’s underlying developmental orientation as assessed by the IDI.