If you’re planning to spend money on diversity training, WAIT!
If you haven’t done any foundation building, you may be wasting your money. If diversity and inclusion aren’t an integral part of your business strategy, you won’t get much for your money by holding one or two day training workshops. Don’t make the same mistake that many businesses, in all industries make.
If you want to leverage the diversity you already enjoy, increase diversity in your business, or prevent cultural misunderstandings, you’ll need to create a culture that’s inclusive at all levels, in every system, and in all processes.
Without having diversity and inclusion baked into your culture, you’ll get people trained by a great trainer, with a great program, but when they leave your organization they take what they learned with them (if they still remember it) and your organization stays the same.
Plus, reaching those people who resist diversity efforts isn’t likely only with training. It’ll take a more multi-faceted approach to help those individuals see the value of diversity in the organization and to bring more people on board to the initiative.
Steps Toward Diversity Training
Here are some steps you can take to create an inclusive business / company:
Start at the top. The CEO and other executive team members must be fully on board and leading the charge. When it comes to diversity and inclusion, leadership of the initiative or changing the culture cannot be delegated. Others can help drive change, but it must be seen as coming from the top. That means it needs to be included in conversations, discussions, newsletters and e-mails.
Figure out what your company strengths, weaknesses, areas for improvement and employee satisfaction ratings are as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion by running surveys, focus groups and interviews.
Once the assessments are done, create a vision and strategy that members of the executive leadership team have agreed is the best course of action.
Engage senior management so they can help lead the change. They need to be part of the vision and have a clear understanding of concepts, roles, business case and benefits.
Create a communication and information sharing process to share the vision throughout the company. Send messages that will create middle manager and employee buy-in to the new culture. Help everyone understand how the diversity, equity and inclusion culture change will benefit each employee personally, professionally and organizationally. That’ll require internal marketing at all levels.
Remember the surveys? Use their results to tackle specific areas for improvement, the most common being; recruitment, interviewing, hiring, retention, promotion and performance evaluation. Look at your present company culture, and find ways where as a company you can create a more inclusive environment.
Define skills and behaviors that managers need to have to make the culture change successful and to successfully lead a diverse workforce.
Once you’ve put those initiatives into motion, now you can conduct training for all levels of your organization in areas related to diversity and inclusion.
Make sure to set up a process for accountability at all levels, that relates progress to compensation and evaluations.
Measure results, create the buzz and make it exciting (if its not fun, it wont be done)
What Does It All Mean?
The amount of time it’ll take, the order and the steps needed depend on your company goals. If you want to go beyond compliance, hear new ideas, learn best practices, reduce cultural misunderstanding and miscommunication, hire and retain the best of the best from everywhere, training alone wont do it.
Before you spend money on diversity training, decide what you want. Do you want your people to have a good day, learn then forget a few bits of information or do you want ongoing change that will make your company one where people are excited to apply to work? The choice is yours.