Implementing a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training program in your organization is essential for fostering an inclusive workplace culture. It affirms the employer’s commitment to embracing underrepresented groups and overcoming prejudices and biases that may lurk in the organization.
However, a poorly designed DEI training program can fail to achieve the meaningful impact you want. Here’s our five-step guide to implementing effective DEI training programs in public sector organizations.
Before developing a DEI training program, assess your organization’s current DEI landscape. Here are some things to consider:
To understand your organization's cultural dynamics and employee perceptions, you may need to conduct some internal research. You could gather insights from your diversity metrics or by running employee surveys and focus groups.
Training programs for DEI should not be generic. Rather, it should address your organization’s specific challenges. Encourage all employees, especially those from underrepresented groups, to share their perspectives openly and honestly. This will help you create a diversity training program that addresses the issues raised.
Diversity training is most effective when it follows a three-pronged approach that incorporates:
1. Awareness-based training to raise awareness and empathy around diversity issues and uncover unconscious biases.
2. Skill-based training that provides practical tools and solutions to overcome DEI stumbling blocks.
3. Motivation-based training that inspires employees to embrace diversity and actively contribute to building an inclusive workplace.
To make your DEI training more engaging for participants, include real-world scenarios, case studies and interactive elements like role-playing.
If your employees work in different locations, only offering in-person training may not be practical. When designing your DEI training program, you should include virtual training options. This will make your DEI training initiatives accessible to all employees, regardless of location.
Technology can help facilitate remote learning. You can conduct virtual training (also called e-learning) via webinars or conferencing platforms like Slack and Zoom.
There are also some excellent learning management systems available that allow you to create customized multimedia online training programs. Instructors can deliver training sessions and monitor student participation and performance. Some learning management systems include interactive elements like discussion forums, quizzes, simulation and gamification.
Creating an inclusive workplace environment extends beyond formal diversity training. It should be an ongoing process.
First, get buy-in from the leadership. Building a culture of inclusivity starts at the top. The organization’s leaders should champion diversity, equity and inclusion and represent diversity within the leadership team.
Second, maintain dialogue around diversity through communication that reinforces DEI principles. Employees should also feel comfortable raising issues and reporting acts of discrimination, with the assurance that management will act decisively in addressing them.
Third, create further opportunities to support DEI training. This may include mentorship programs, access to DEI resources, team-building events, and additional training where applicable.
Don’t take a set-and-forget approach to DEI programs. DEI initiatives are iterative, meaning the messages will likely require repeating. Your DEI training may also evolve as your workplace culture shifts, your DEI goals change or further reforms occur in the regulatory environment.
That’s why it’s important to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for DEI training programs against which to measure the effectiveness of your training programs and revise them if they no longer align with the organization's goals.
It may be useful to conduct post-training assessments to evaluate participants' feedback. This can highlight areas that need improvement. For example, older employees may point out that the training doesn’t address generational diversity, something you may inadvertently overlook.
A strong DEI program can improve the employee experience and position you as an attractive employer to potential recruits. Diversity training is an essential component of a well-rounded DEI strategy. To create powerful DEI training programs, align them with the needs of your organization, make them accessible to all employees and continue to evaluate their impact making adjustments where necessary.
CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country. Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients. We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.