Training on topics like diversity, harassment, and discrimination can provide big benefits in the workplace. Large organizations roll out custom plans, messaging, and training initiatives perfectly matched to their corporate cultures. This multi-touch approach is highly effective in creating a positive workplace. Small and mid-size organizations want to reap the same benefits but need a more practical approach that isn’t so resource-intensive.
1. Identify Your Needs
Before you start a training initiative, identify what your organizational needs are and develop a simple strategy to meet them. There are many topics on diversity, different job positions may benefit more from one kind of training over another, or you may need training in a specific area because your organization is trying to reach new markets. It may seem obvious, but many times we try to solve the problem before really knowing what it is. Whether the initiative is coming in reaction to a problem or simply as a proactive practice, it’s vital to have a plan that shows a commitment to implementing what employees are being trained in. New legislation has opened up even more topics in diversity training, so make sure you’re up to date on topics that affect your organization.
In smaller organizations, management is usually much more visible and accessible. Their support and participation is vital. In a study of diversity training initiatives in smaller organizations, those where management didn’t visibly participate in or support the training suffered from employee backlash, disdain, and unhappiness. However, other organizations had very positive and cooperative attitudes because key management people (like the CEO) were vocal and positive about their support of diversity training initiatives. Even stopping in for a few minutes to kick off the training with encouragement and support for their employees made a lasting impression on trainees about the value of diversity in the organization.
3. Equip Your Employees
People need to be taught more than just awareness – they need the skills to navigate situations or deal with problematic situations. One major advantage of diversity training online is that you can be sure your employees are getting training in practical skills that fit within the framework of what they’ve learned. Individual instructor training of the 90’s and early 2000’s suffered from backlash because it often made people aware of the problems but gave them no useful tools to handle the situations they faced in the workplace.
4. Connect and Follow-Through
Diversity training is only powerful if it’s connected to larger initiatives in the organization: attitudes, hiring practices, and company values need to reflect a commitment to a diverse workforce. Following through on the needs identified before training could mean as much as making an effort to hire and promote more diverse candidates or as little as making sure you have a fair, effective dispute resolution system in place and that employees know how to use it. Make sure management is aware of and enforcing new policies, then review them periodically to see what’s working and what isn’t.
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