Diversity relates to all the differences that people bring to the table by the virtue of their gender, age, culture, language, thought process etc. Diverse teams and organizations have proven to be more innovative and have shown better financial results.
However, diversity is just about numbers – how many diverse people does an organization have; this is not enough. What really makes diversity work is an inclusive culture. An inclusive culture is one in which diversity is valued, people are comfortable being different and all views are valued. Only when there is an inclusive culture can the benefits of diversity be reaped.
However, despite all the benefits of diversity and inclusion, humans are not wired to be comfortable with diversity. Evolution has resulted in humans viewing differences as a threat. This means that to become inclusive and build a diverse organization, people must be trained to change their mindset. Therefore, training plays a crucial role in making an organization diverse and inclusive.
Here are types of diversity and inclusion training organizations must undertake at different levels:
- Entry Level – New hires from universities and college campuses should be trained on the company culture and the ethos around diversity and inclusion that the company drives. Understanding types of diversity and importance of inclusion is the first step here. It is important for them to identify acceptable and unacceptable workplace behaviors related to diversity and inclusion. Training on unconscious biases is another important aspect. Many organizations focus D&I trainings on mid and senior managers and ignore the large population of campus hires. Remember, campus hires form a large part of the population, it is also easier to align to the culture and expected behaviors at this stage.
- Individual Contributors – The next set of people organizations should focus on training are the individual contributors. An organization may have individual contributors who are also senior and while they may not be managing teams, practicing inclusive behaviors here is critical. Individual contributors should be trained on unconscious biases, acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in the workplace related to diversity and inclusion and event training allies and champions who then drive diversity and inclusion initiatives within the organization.
- People Managers – Another type of diversity and inclusion training should target people managers. People managers are the ones who build team cultures and therefore they need to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion and how to drive the right culture within the team. Managers should also be trained on unconscious biases particularly biases in hiring. They should also be trained on how to identify and deal with micro exclusions.
- Leaders – No D&I initiatives can succeed unless they are driven by leaders. Remember that culture flows from the top, so training leaders on diversity and inclusion is crucial. While training leaders on unconscious biases and behavioral change is critical, what is also important is to enable leaders to build a D&I vision, align people towards it and ensure its effective execution. Building a D&I vision or charter and creating a culture of inclusion with policies and practices is what leaders should be trained on.
While there are many types of diversity and inclusion trainings, remember that the “one style fits all approach” does not work. Every training program should be customized to the needs of the organization and the target audience.