Diversity training is an integral component of any company’s efforts to encourage positive intergroup interactions and reduce prejudice and discrimination. While its delivery methods vary greatly, most diversity programs share similar learning objectives.
A well-executed program will focus on addressing unconscious bias and encouraging inclusion within the workplace. A strong leadership team is also essential for driving inclusion.
Identifying Unconscious Biases
Unconscious bias detection is one of the primary objectives of diversity equity and inclusion training. It aims to raise awareness of mental shortcuts that cause snap judgments based on gender or race–leading to instant judgments about an individual’s talents or character that have an effect on everything from hiring decisions to day-to-day interactions between coworkers and customers.
Unconscious bias is defined as any automatic thought or feeling that has the ability to influence our decisions and actions without our awareness. Biases like these often stem from socialization and culture, and can affect everyone regardless of education level or experience. Some common examples include affinity bias, confirmation bias, attribution bias, conformity bias, contrast bias, the halo effect and gender bias.
Biases in the workplace can be extremely detrimental as they lead managers and employees to make unintentional judgments about colleagues based on superficial factors that have no relation to actual abilities or qualifications of that person – for instance, judging someone as lazy or incompetent due to skin color or religion has nothing to do with how well that individual performs at their job.
Uncovering unconscious bias can be transformative when it comes to creating more equitable workplaces. By informing employees on how their biases shape their decisions and making more informed choices about how to interact with colleagues.
One important consideration is that it’s impossible to completely eradicate unconscious bias. While providing employees with awareness training on implicit bias is an effective first step, businesses must also provide ongoing DEI training and support services for long-term combating unconscious bias.
For example, if a manager consistently turns away female candidates for roles they need to fill, training may be needed on how unconscious biases may be influencing the process. From there they can tackle this issue head-on by making sure all women candidates are considered equally and fairly during the hiring process.
Overall, the best way to combat implicit bias in the workplace is providing employees with a safe space to express their thoughts and experiences freely and honestly with each other. Many programs provide interactive exercises which allow participants to discuss discrimination they have encountered as well as inclusion experiences they’ve had themselves. Such discussions create an atmosphere in which employees feel comfortable being open and honest with one another – especially helpful for minorities and women workers in the office.
Understanding Unconscious Bias
Unconscious bias is a barrier to building an inclusive workplace. By including unconscious bias training as part of diversity training sessions, employees will gain greater insight into how their stereotypes may harm individuals and organizations. Pairing this type of education with speeches, role-playing exercises, one-on-one coaching and videos allows employees to gain knowledge from multiple sources simultaneously – giving each employee an experience tailored specifically for them.
One common form of Unconscious Bias (UB) training entails showing employees their own bias through reflection on specific actions or situations that could be seen as biased, as well as providing them with strategies to combat their own prejudices through calling out stereotypical views, collecting more personalized data about people, reflecting on counterstereotypical examples and increasing interactions with diverse types of individuals.
To maximize the impact of UB training, it’s crucial to establish SMART goals and track employees’ progress. Leaders at one pharmaceutical company found that women were being promoted more than men after attending UB training. Managers from financial services firms reported becoming more impartial when assigning investment opportunities or deals as a result of attending such training.
Be mindful that it takes time and dedication to shift unconscious biases, so be patient with both employees and leaders involved with your DEI program. Biases form over a lifetime; therefore they won’t disappear overnight. Make sure your employees receive ongoing education and support after formal training is over as well.
One way of supplementing DEI training is providing employees with a safe space where they can freely share their experiences, both positive and negative. Doing this will foster a greater sense of community among your employees which in turn helps fight biases more effectively.
Creating a Culture of Inclusion
An effective diversity equity and inclusion training program not only helps individuals understand why certain stereotypes can be harmful, but it will also teach employees how to create an accepting culture within their teams – something essential in creating a workforce which truly reflects the diversity of our world and allows for collaboration across many perspectives.
Though many might argue that diversity and inclusion training merely serves to raise awareness, companies that truly value it know that it can make a profound difference to the success of their business. Employees who feel valued and accepted at work tend to be more productive; additionally, their loyalty can save companies both in recruitment costs as well as institutional knowledge retention costs.
Diversity training has been shown to enhance performance among both men and women alike, so long as it’s not used as a means of punishing individuals or instilling animosity. For instance, Sephora recently closed all its stores for one hour after an incident of racial profiling took place, to provide diversity and inclusion training for its employees – this high profile effort raised awareness while being effective; but no single approach fits everyone.
At the core of any diverse and inclusive culture is equality – this distinguishes an inclusive culture from a diversity-focused one and requires an organizational culture which embraces equity in every aspect of business operations. Achieve this requires making sure all groups are represented within leadership, management, board positions as well as addressing any instances of bias, discrimination or oppression on every level within an organization.
Establishing a culture of inclusion requires hard work and dedication, but its results speak for themselves. Inclusivity leads to improved communication, teamwork, productivity, and can improve any organization’s bottom line. If your workplace wants to ensure the optimal working environment for all of its employees, consider teaming up with an inclusive training provider who can create an individualized plan of training.
Creating a Culture of Equity
Establishing an inclusive culture is the ultimate aim of diversity and equity training programs. Employees should gain an understanding of what diversity is and its effects, and be provided with strategies on how they can adjust their behavior to be more inclusive – such as recognizing bias, providing strategies to reduce it and setting SMART goals for inclusion at work.
An organization should ensure their DEI program is effective by conducting an internal survey to assess areas for improvement. Furthermore, training should be tailored specifically for its intended audience – for instance if targeting managers it should include strategies that help them become effective mentors to their teams.
Training should provide information that emphasizes how changes in behavior can benefit both individuals and their organization, without making people uncomfortable or intimidating them – or else its effectiveness will be lost.
Diversity and inclusion strategies offer immense advantages to any business. When employees feel welcome at work, their morale increases significantly while they perform better at their jobs. Engagement increases substantially; engagement leads to productivity; productivity rises; they stay with the company longer; they bring fresh ideas; they collaborate better; their performance enhances overall.
Diversity encompasses more than gender, age, race and ethnicity; it encompasses different social categories like religion, education, socio-economic status and sexual orientation as well as different skills like hard and soft skills as well as perspectives – ultimately diversity must encompass all these elements.
Create a diverse and inclusive workplace can be difficult, but with proper training programs it can be done. Teaching managers and workers how to recognize and correct unconscious biases will create an environment in which all employees feel safe and included – although this may take some time, its rewards far outweigh its initial costs; start small and build cultural shifts as you go forward.