Updated: Jul 9
The last few months have seen many corporations looking to expand their workplace trainings to include more diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) topics. Today we're going to look at the top DEI learning topics leaders need to include in their trainings to create a more inclusive culture. Let's get started.
Empathy Training for Employees
Empathy is the glue that makes DEI efforts stick. It's a powerful tool that can help individuals understand and connect with people from all walks of life.
By putting empathy at the center of diversity, equity and inclusion practices, you are building a strong foundation for all your programs and initiatives to thrive. Empathy serves as an objective lens through which individuals experience their own lives and gain perspective on the experiences of others. . Empathy helps teams work better together and is also an especially important skill set for your sales team! By truly understanding the wants and needs of your prospective clients, your team will be better able to build rapport and understand the needs of your customers.
Respect in the Workplace
Next up on our list of DEI topics is respect. Having an environment where everyone feels respected and valued is well-known as a leading contributor to workplace satisfaction according to Service Skills. Creating a respectful environment is not just about being kind to your coworkers, it's also necessary for maintaining the company's bottom line.
This can be accomplished by establishing and enforcing workplace policies that are clear and concise. Policies should include consequences for bullying, discrimination or harassment of any type. Pay attention in particular to following up with employees who have experienced such behavior from their peers as this will show them they're valued members of the team, while providing management insight into how prevalent these behaviors might actually be.
Training on the 4 Types of Diversity
Diversity training is such a broad topic that we'll need to break it down and discuss the different types of diversity commonly taught. So, just what are the 4 types of diversity we need to train on anyway? According to Alliant International University they include:
Since each of these are important topics your team needs to understand, let's take a detailed look at each one below:
1. Internal Diversity
This refers to the diversity that individuals have at birth and can be impacted by gender, race, ethnicity, age or a host of other factors.
Internal diversity plays an important role in organizations because it helps to ensure all voices are heard. Organizations with diverse talent from different demographics have more perspectives on how to approach problems which means they're likely to come up with better solutions.
2. External Diversity
Next up are the external factors that define and influence our personalities. Things like your early childhood experiences, how you interact with friends and family or your religious or spiritual beliefs fall into this category. These are the factors around you that have shaped who you are and, in turn, how your unique personality can make a difference to an organization.
Having a workforce with diverse cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs does not mean that everyone will always be friends, but it will help create an environment where people can have open conversations with each other and learn from one another.
3. Organizational Diversity
This covers the different roles and job functions within the company. This is a fairly straightforward topic and goes hand-in-hand with the idea of having diversity in different roles. Having more women and minorities in management positions, for example, has been shown to have many positive benefits to the entire workforce.
4. Worldview Diversity
Have you ever been part of a situation where you felt left out by not being from the same school or missing some other shared experience everyone else holds in common? This can be a difficult thing for an employee to experience, and it's often more pronounced in the workplace. That is why the idea of having diversity within someone's worldview is so important. You don't want anyone feeling like they are on the outside looking in or left out from being able to share their thoughts because they have different life experiences.
It's important to have teams with diverse lived experiences so that they can share insights and perspectives with one another, collaborate and create new ideas.
Cultural Competency Training
Now that we've looked at the different types of diversity, let's cover a topic that refers to an individual's skills when it comes to working with diverse teams and getting along with fellow workers who have different cultural backgrounds and experiences. Cultural competency training can help people from different cultures work together more easily and will make for better, more productive teams.
Cultural competency is especially important in the healthcare sector. Intake staff are the first point of contact for a patient, so hospitals and clinics need to make sure they have culturally competent staff members.
Cultural competency training dives into topics such as implicit bias, stereotyping or biases as well as thoughtfulness in conversations with people who come from different cultures than you do.
Unconscious Bias Training
Unconscious bias training seeks to address stereotypes held against certain groups. Recent examples of this sort of bias in the news are plentiful. Just think of every time you've read a headline about an employee or business owner refusing service to a customer based on their job, race, or any other group identity that person has an unconscious bias against.
Eliminating bias in the workplace is a long and ongoing process, but unconscious bias training, along with Empathy can be foundational to all your efforts.
It’s important to note that unconscious biases stem from our upbringing so it requires time to change. This could explain why DEI programs don't always see results right away - they take time! Nevertheless, DEI programs have proven successful at addressing these issues in time, which is promising for future generations of employees who will enter into an entirely different environment in terms of diversity awareness.
What Should Diversity Training Focus on First?
With all these topics, it can seem a bit overwhelming to try to come up with a good program outline that will fit into your allotted time for training. What should you focus on first?
Here's our advice: start with Empathy. This is important because it can be foundational for all your efforts and will set a tone for a culture of belongingat your company.
Microaggressions - An Often Overlooked Training Topic
When someone in the workplace acts offensively it undermines inclusion. Microaggressions are subtle and often unintentional slights that insult, exclude or demean someone in a marginalized group.
Microaggressions can be overt (e.g., asking an Asian American where he is from) or more covert (e.g., being told "you speak very well").
How do you address microaggressions?
Human-centered storytelling is a good place to start. By putting yourself in the shoes of others, and getting a glimpse into their experiences you can gain awareness and compassion for the experiences of others. iPondr@Work dives into how microaggressions impact a person over time and how individuals are addressing it in different environments.
Another way to deal with this kind of situation is to confront the person when it happens so they understand their behavior makes another feel unwelcome at work. If they're not receptive, then report them for violating the company's policies against harassment or discriminatory. Adding a section on microaggressions to your DEI program can help ensure your team understands the concept and how to deal with it in the future.
Need More Help Planning Your DEI program?
If this all seems a bit overwhelming to take on, you may want to look into DEI training programs that are already available to help you get started. These programs can help you identify the DEI topics that are most important to your organization and teach employees how to communicate with others in a way that is respectful of differences. iPondr at Work is one such program that's meant to help you foster empathy in the workplace and supercharge your existing DEI programs. Visit our homepage to learn more about how our training helps you take the guesswork out of DEI implementation.