• Aduke Onafowokan

Two Things To Consider Before Starting D and I Training in Your Organisation

So, you have your diversity and inclusion training budget approved!

Brilliant! Here are 2 things to consider before you proceed.

The case for diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever, industry statistics and research consistently show that diverse and inclusive teams outperform their homogeneous counterparts.

It is therefore no surprise that a lot of organisations are investing in diversity and inclusion training especially in this Covid-19 lockdown when most of us are more active online.

There have been conversations about the overall success rate of diversity and inclusion programmes and why even although most global companies offer diversity and inclusion initiatives, underrepresentation persists especially in leadership.

Harvard Business Review found that although businesses started to get serious about their efforts to increase diversity they don’t seem to be getting results: Women and minorities have not gained much ground in management over the past 20 years.

There are also further concerns that standard diversity and inclusion training such as Managing Unconscious Bias can unlock further bias or lead to diversity fatigue. Research shows that these types of training programmes are often only effective for managing bias and promoting inclusion in the short term and soon, colleagues revert back to their comfort zones.

To maximise your chances of achieving meaningful impact, here are 3 steps to take before you start any learning and development interventions in your organisation on diversity and inclusion.

Do The Research

Diversity and inclusion rarely means the same thing for everyone or every organisation. This is why it is important to avoid buying ‘best-selling’ workshops before conducting the appropriate research to demonstrate that these types of content is exactly what your organisation needs. To truly have impact, it is important to understand where and what the challenges are, for some organisations I find in my research activities that their challenges are related to attraction, for some organisations their challenges are related to retention and for some it is low cultural awareness and sensitivity.

By embedding a learning through data culture in your diversity and inclusion initiatives, you are not only saving time and money, reducing the likelihood of diversity fatigue, but you are also ensuring that you start where it matters most, where the impact can be felt most, and by doing that everyone wins.

Think Ongoing Learning Vs One-off Interventions

A number of my clients approach me to purchase off-the-shelf workshops on key diversity and inclusion themes, which provide powerful insights and ‘know-how’ are not designed to embed a ‘trained focus’ in this area as a standalone offering. Even with the best intentions, conflicting priorities, deadlines and sheer workload conflicts can very quickly lead to diversity and inclusion being de prioritised.

A more effective approach is to think more long term, what happens next, and then after that? A practical approach is to quarterly refresh your learning efforts and create a learning programme with a more long term focus.

Learning takes time, especially learning to adopt new behaviours. When it comes to diversity and inclusion, the support must be at par with the challenge.

Earlier on, I spoke about whether or not diversity and inclusion training works.

When driven by research and consistent - it does.

Diversity and Inclusion training is a great way to introduce the idea that inclusion counts and diversity matters. But, it is only the beginning - training must be supplemented by ongoing structural changes such as clearer leadership pathways, policy and process reviews, standardised recruitment practices amongst others.

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