The Bold and the Equitable: Support Your DEI Strategy with Training

group of people in a work setting clustered around a computer monitorDiversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has risen to the top of many organizations’ priority lists. It’s a critical initiative that will do more than improve people’s experience and ability to participate and contribute in their work environments. Yes, those are incredibly important and positive outcomes, but there are ripple-effect benefits as well.

The brands, businesses, and institutional players who invest in DEI will find they attract more customers, better talent, and greater reputations. They will also become more resilient and prepared for the foundational demographic changes that will unfold over the next 20 years” (FastCompany).

As a training professional, you know that learning will be an essential element in the company’s broader DEI strategy. It’s an exciting and encouraging time in history that, working with other departments, you can advance the DEI mission to great success. You can be instrumental in creating meaningful change and impacting the future of your organization.

Some companies are already ahead of the curve and making strong, if not sweeping, changes. But if you’re not there yet, it may be time for a bold strategy that challenges the status quo. This sounds dramatic and exciting, and you may be jumping to get started. However, a bold strategy takes leadership support and sponsorship, which can be challenging to attain.

Get their attention first. Then, zero-in on buy-in.

Leaders are key to the success of your DEI initiative and strategy. So many of the ideas for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion require structural changes to an organization. Who has the power to make structural and organizational changes? Leaders do. What’s more, they set the tone for the organization. If leaders don’t care about the initiative, it’s likely that employees won’t either.

What to do?

  • Attention first: If your organization’s leaders haven’t already come to you for help with DEI training, you can start by bringing to their attention the necessity for this material in your training program. Speak their language by proving the business value primarily with social and morale positives as additional benefits. Point to research (like the article referenced above) and other stats like these from Gartner:75% of companies with “frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture” exceed their financial targets. They also found that “gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed gender-homogeneous, less inclusive teams by 50%, on average.”
  • Buy-in next: Once you’ve opened their eyes (assuming they weren’t already, which to be fair, they possibly were), you can request the additional budget if needed and/or organizational support to get your DEI training program off the ground and flying. Your role as the training professional now becomes assisting your leaders in becoming cheerleaders for your organization’s DEI training program.Get your DEI training content in place and then hand them the metaphorical pompoms to underscore its value and importance to the organization, politely reminding them that they’re critically important to its strategic success. Some organizations even take this as far as having a DEI program that puts leaders in the hot seat. This may not work for all, but in training sessions, you could explore uncomfortable issues of bias and exclusion to build empathy and understanding in the workplace. The process starts to chip away at the myth of “meritocracy,” as leaders gain insight into how they may have benefitted from their class or race – rather than their innate ability – to get to where they are. These kinds of “light bulb” moments can add personal commitment and meaning that accelerates the success of a DEI initiative.

What else can you do to energize DEI?

A useful exercise is to look at policies, processes, and programs throughout the lifecycle of an employee. For example, what do your recruitment processes involve? Do you use training programs to develop diverse talent? Are there policies in place that ensure all employees are getting considered for promotion? Are there certain policies or procedures that aren’t inclusive or equitable?

Asking these kinds of questions can uncover some uncomfortable truths. But it’s only then that you can begin to plan for improvement.

If you haven’t rolled out DEI training yet, we have a comprehensive collection of learning content for you. Please see the latest Diversity, Equity and Inclusion courses and get started as soon as possible.

NOTE: You don’t need to use the Litmos LMS to take advantage of Litmos learning content. Of course, we want you to use and love the Litmos LMS! But if you’re committed to a different one, that does not prevent you from utilizing Litmos off-the-shelf courses. See the full collection of courses.