In today’s global landscape, diversity is more than just a buzzword; it stands at the forefront as a vital component for workplace success. Increasingly recognized as not merely a moral imperative but a crucial business asset, the importance of diversity cannot be overstated. Embracing diversity fosters a more inclusive environment, which often translates to greater employee satisfaction, reduced turnover, and a broader range of perspectives.

However, understanding the concept of diversity isn’t enough. Companies must invest in diversity training to harness its myriad benefits fully. This article dives deep into the intricacies of effective diversity and inclusion training, presenting its benefits, illustrating with real-world examples, and highlighting relevant statistics that underline its paramount significance.

All About Diversity Training

The importance of successful diversity training has never been greater than it is now. Today’s workforce is one of the most diverse in our nation’s work history. With such diversity comes differences in work style, team expectations, communication, and many other needs.

To maximize the impact and effectiveness of your diversity awareness efforts—and of course, to ensure compliance with many federal and state mandates that require training for all employees—it is critical to implement diversity awareness programming organization-wide, from staff to faculty to administration.

What is Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Training?

While the definition of diversity training continues to evolve, it is generally provided to help employees gain a better understanding and appreciation of the differences that come from these varying perspectives and backgrounds.  Additionally, D&I training assists organizations in creating shared expectations of respect, collaboration and a culture of belonging.

Does diversity training work? Not in isolation. Even the most effective diversity and inclusion training experience will not create and sustain a culture of mutual acceptance, respect, and understanding if it exists as the only tactic that is disconnected from other strategic efforts.

Preventing bias, discrimination, and injustice is more than just a program — it’s a process.

Successful organizations prioritize diversity and inclusion at all levels of the workplace and prioritize training as a key initiative as one part of an ongoing, institution wide strategy that delivers on targeted outcomes.

Workplace diversity initiatives share a number of key elements:

  • They include clear goals that are monitored continually
  • They leverage mentoring programs
  • They incorporate targeted recruiting programs
  • They provide diversity training to everyone – with specific support for  supervisors and managers
  • They have a defined diversity manager
  • They reassess their efforts and make improvement frequently
  • They transparently communicate their diversity goals internally and externally

Diversity training isn’t something that’s done once a year and then forgotten.

Strengthen Your Diversity Training

DEI and Harrasment & Discrimination Training Work Better Together.

Effective Diversity Training Programs

Diversity drives innovation through the support of varied viewpoints and a culture that supports seeking, listening, and supporting those viewpoints. The evolution from conceptually valuing diversity to actively supporting inclusion requires both intention and skill-building.

Many diversity and inclusion training programs include a specific focus on unconscious or implicit bias. There is ample research that demonstrates the potentially undermining effects of unchecked biases on equitable decision-making and respectful interactions. Promoting inclusion in the workplace through unconscious bias training and fully invested leadership develops strong teams that can recognize and overcome implicit bias in the workplace.

An additional consideration of effective diversity and inclusion training is to connect it to harassment and discrimination prevention efforts. Promoting diversity helps prevent discrimination and builds a strong workforce that is more attractive to today’s job seekers. In fact, according to Deloitte, the vast majority of millennials, who represent almost 50% of the workforce, say they prefer to work for companies that actively foster inclusion.

Diversity training programs when done well, can make a real difference in the culture of your workplace to drive inclusion, mutual respect, employee satisfaction, longevity, and loyalty.

Can You Run Diversity Training Online?

Today’s workplaces are busy and often dispersed across a variety of locations where employees are involved in any number of initiatives that compete for their time. That can make offering in-person training programs a challenge. As companies consider ways to ensure that their workforces receive critical diversity training, many wonder: can you run diversity training online?

The answer: a resounding yes!

In fact, online diversity training can be especially relevant now as companies struggle with the impacts of COVID-19 and the need to practice social distancing. Even before the virus caused many organizations to send employees home to work, remote work was on the rise. That makes online training a great go-to resource to offer compliance, flexibility, and real-time training for all members of your staff.

Required in-person training can be inconvenient, sometimes impossible. Online training offers a solution to meet the needs of workers of all types, working in a wide range of settings—including from home. In addition to providing the flexibility for employees to access training when their schedules permit, online training makes it easy to train new staff members and to retrain staff regularly to ensure that important messages persist over time.

Is Diversity a Priority for Your Organization? Cohesive Training is One Important Piece of the Process.

Diversity Training Examples

While many companies struggle to show real benefits from their diversity training efforts, some organizations have been heralded in the media for their high-profile efforts to provide diversity training to their employees.

Sephora is one example. In response to backlash over an incident of what many felt was racial profiling, Sephora shut down its stores for an hour to offer diversity and inclusion training to all employees. High visibility training efforts like this can certainly raise awareness. Unfortunately, these one-time events rarely lead to lasting change.

McDonald’s is another company that has made a concerted effort to provide diversity training to managers and employees to make a difference. They point to leadership support and accountability; internal coaching, mentoring and education; and the use of employee business networks as key elements of their success.

Starbucks, like Sephora, was a company that ended up in the news because of an employee’s questionable response to two African American patrons who didn’t immediately place an order. The employee called the police and the men, who had been waiting for others to join them for a business meeting, were arrested and led away in handcuffs. It was an egregious incident that led to widespread criticism— and a company-wide training effort.

The key to effective diversity training, of course, is to focus on creating lasting impact by impacting the overall company culture. A single training event—no matter how widely publicized—simply won’t achieve desired results. In addition, the wide range of potential diversity training activities and topics means that there are ample opportunities for organizations to provide relevant training on an ongoing basis.

DEI Training Facilitator’s Guide

Exercises to start and moderate productive conversations

Benefits of Diversity Training and Building an Inclusive Workplace

Diversity training has the potential to support companies in creating an inclusive culture that boosts employee satisfaction, can lead to greater innovation and business performance, and attract and retain top talent.

One of the advantages diversity training programs offer organizations is the ability to create a culture where employees feel  comfortable speaking up and pointing to issues that may exist—but that may otherwise go unnoticed. Too many organizations fall victim to a culture of silence and are woefully unaware of issues that threaten not only their ability to attract and retain top employees but to protect their brands and avoid legal liability.

Diversity training raises awareness and helps employees come together to better understand, and respect, differences—the differences that can be leveraged to help organizations be more innovative and creative.

Too often, diversity efforts fail to achieve desired results. Worse, when organizations find themselves facing external challenges— like the COVID-19 crisis—these efforts may fall by the wayside.

The benefits of diversity training are only realized when the training is part of a robust strategy that includes ongoing communication, coaching, counseling, and education. Training alone is not enough. To be effective in moving the bar to build an inclusive culture, companies need to make a concerted effort to drive change, over time, through a variety of initiatives.

Diversity Training Statistics

Besides the impact on company culture, these corporate diversity statistics show that there are definitive trends correlating diversity to business performance.

  • The most racially diverse companies bring in nearly 15 times more revenue than the least racially diverse
  • Companies that have three or more women on the board “outperform companies with all-male boards by 60 percent in return on invested capital, 84 percent in return on sales, and 60 percent in return on equity
  • It’s a competitive advantage since only one in five companies that were surveyed for the Deloitte University report believe their company is fully “ready” to address the issue of workplace diversity.
EVERFI Workplace Insights

Why Diversity Training Is Important

Understanding and promoting diversity isn’t merely a tick-box exercise; it’s fundamental to creating workplaces that reflect the real world and harness the collective strength of varied perspectives.
Training provides the tools and frameworks to allow this understanding to grow, ensuring that every employee, regardless of their background, feels valued, heard, and empowered to contribute fully to the company’s vision.

Drives Business Growth

In an increasingly interconnected global economy, companies that prioritize diversity are better positioned to tap into varied markets and cater to a broader clientele. A diverse team brings unique insights, perspectives, and problem-solving approaches, making the company more adaptable and better equipped to meet the needs of different customer segments. Moreover, businesses known for their inclusive practices are more attractive to potential partners, stakeholders, and investors, further promoting growth and expansion opportunities.

Improved Employee Retention

A well-implemented diversity training program can be a significant factor in retaining top talent. Employees feel more valued and understood when they work in an environment that recognizes and respects individual differences.
When people believe they belong and their contributions are acknowledged, they’re less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere. Consequently, reduced turnover not only saves costs related to hiring and training but also retains institutional knowledge and promotes a cohesive company culture.
Increased Employee Engagement
Employees who feel seen, heard, and respected are more likely to be actively engaged in their roles. Diversity training fosters an environment where individuals from all backgrounds feel they can voice their opinions and ideas without fear of prejudice or retribution.
A diverse and inclusive workspace encourages collaboration, leading to a richer exchange of ideas and fostering innovation. When everyone feels a part of the team, motivation and productivity naturally increase.

Positive Systemic Change

Beyond immediate workplace benefits, diversity training can lead to broader, systemic changes in corporate culture and beyond. By advocating for the importance of understanding and respecting diverse viewpoints, businesses can influence attitudes not only within their walls but also in the wider community.
Over time, these cumulative efforts can lead to industries and communities that are more inclusive, understanding, and resistant to prejudices of all kinds.

The Road Ahead for Diversity and Inclusion

Embracing diversity and inclusion is more than a corporate trend; it’s a journey towards building stronger, more resilient organizations. As the business landscape evolves, so too must our approach to fostering environments where every individual feels valued and empowered. The tangible benefits—improved retention, increased engagement, systemic change, and business growth—are undeniable. However, the intangible rewards, like a more harmonious workplace, enriched creativity, and a broader understanding of the world around us, further emphasize its significance.
By continually investing in effective diversity training and remaining committed to the principles of inclusion, businesses can ensure they are not only keeping pace with the modern world but are also paving the way for a more inclusive future.