The importance of 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.

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.

Learn more about how taking the right approach to diversity training can make a real difference in your organization.

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 companywide training effort.

The key to effective 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 mean that there are ample opportunities for organizations to provide relevant training on an ongoing basis.

Are you ready to tackle diversity training in a different way—a way that will make a real difference?

Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion Training

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.

Companies That Focus on the Human Experience Are Twice as Likely to Outperform Their Peers in Revenue Growth Over a Three-Year Period

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.

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

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

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.

Diversity training online can be a cost-effective element of any successful diversity and inclusion program.

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.