9 Training Topics On Diversity And Inclusion
In the modern workplace, where the rise of remote work means people from different nationalities and backgrounds work together, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are a top priority. The value of diversity in an organization is no secret, and most leaders recognize the importance of an inclusive environment.
But creating DEI in the workplace goes beyond establishing policies at the top. It requires that everyone understands exactly what it is and how to apply the principles.
That’s where DEI training comes into play.
Well-planned courses will make DEI a part of your team’s day-to-day experience, whether they work in the office or from home. And that means marginalized voices will be heard and everyone will feel safe doing their best work. Your culture will be more welcoming and you’ll see productivity grow.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to make DEI training a priority in your workplace and share some of the important topics you should cover.
DEI Is Not Just Another HR Buzzword
There’s no longer a need to make the case for DEI training and the importance of diversity in the workplace. You may already have a diverse team and send new hires through a training course on diversity in their first week. But all of that doesn’t mean you’ve built a thoroughly inclusive workplace.
Training is key to your success, and it should reach beyond checking a box during onboarding and compliance training. Here’s why.
How DEI Training Reinforces A Culture Of Inclusion
Understanding the importance of DEI in the workplace isn’t the same as building a diverse and inclusive culture. To have an impact, people and organizations need to take action. DEI training bridges the gap between knowing and doing by:
- Helping uncover hidden biases and unfair hiring and career development practices.
- Teaching learners to recognize problems and actively promote inclusion and equity.
- Equipping leaders with skills to support inclusion within their teams.
With the right training, you can make your employees aware of opportunities to include others and level the playing field. They’ll become advocates for equity and have the tools they need to actively support your inclusive culture.
If you want your DEI training to help your company foster a truly inclusive culture, now is a good time to revisit your material and ensure it’s up to date to reinforce best practices.
9 Topics You Should Cover In Your DEI Training
There are plenty of DEI topics you could address when it comes to building an inclusive workplace. To get you started, here are some of the most important areas to cover, especially when it comes to distributed teams and hybrid workplaces.
They include both basic, foundational content and more advanced information for deeper learning.
You may want to start with the very foundational concepts of DEI. They might seem obvious to people in HR roles, especially when the company is already committed to supporting DEI. But they’re not necessarily so obvious to everyone.
Include these basic topics in your training strategy to ensure that each employee has a solid foundation in the subject. Then they’ll see more clearly how they can help create a safe and productive workplace.
1. Diversity Vs. Inclusion
Start by clarifying what these terms mean. Most people understand the definition of diversity but they might not realize that inclusion is something separate. Incorporate content that helps people understand how the two are connected and why they need to focus on both.
- Diversity means representation—making sure different groups and marginalized voices are represented at work.
- Inclusion supports diversity by making sure those voices are heard and respected. It means creating a place where all employees feel safe and supported in doing their best work.
Make sure people understand the goals of your training program.
2. Fundamentals Of DEI
Set everyone up for success by giving them a foundational understanding of the topic.
You might include common terms they should be familiar with. This is also a good time to introduce existing DEI company policies and procedures.
Share what’s expected and required in the workplace, and walk them through any processes for making changes or seeking redress for violations.
3. Unconscious Bias
Teach employees about finding the prejudices they may not even know exist. To root out barriers to equity, people need to recognize that the problems run deeper than what they see on the surface.
Include content around how we all come with preconceptions hardwired into our brains based on our backgrounds, upbringing, and other life experiences. Show learners how to look for unintentional biases that may be affecting their behavior.
4. Intentional Inclusion
Wanting to be inclusive and knowing how to be inclusive don’t always go hand in hand. Give your employees some guidance on how to practice DEI at work. Explain how putting action-oriented policies in place helps forward the cause of equity and inclusion.
Teach them how they can participate and practice purposeful inclusion. Beyond company policies and procedures, content may cover things like:
- Using correct pronouns
- Speaking with inclusive language
- Recognizing privilege and using it to support others
This basic information will give people the tools they need to actively participate in supporting a diverse culture.
Once people know the basics, you can build on their footing by providing content that goes more in depth. Teach employees how to take specific opportunities for inclusion and how to respond to instances of inequity. This will help turn them into active allies in building an inclusive workplace.
5. Culture And Identity Awareness
Break the content down to showcase specific types of inclusion employees should be watching out for. Help them see the array of identities and cultures they may encounter. Teach them to recognize exclusion based on these and its negative effects on the workplace. Then instruct them on how to be more inclusive.
You may offer individual modules on common areas prone to stereotypes and biases, including:
- Gender inclusion
- LGBTQ+ inclusion
- Cultural diversity
- Age diversity
Discrimination isn’t always an act of overt aggression. Organizations need to understand that being inclusive means making sure employees of all abilities have access to the same resources and opportunities.
Teach your employees about the physical and digital barriers differently able employees often face. Then instruct them on principles for ensuring accessibility.
Microaggressions are sometimes less obvious snubs or insults that communicate hostility. Once people are aware of the bigger picture of what DEI looks like, you can help them know how to stop it in its tracks by teaching them to recognize these “under the radar” actions.
Show them how these kinds of behaviors can grow out of unconscious biases. Give them examples they’ll recognize (like interrupting women in meetings or assuming gender identity based on appearance).
Educate them on the harms of these types of behaviors and give them the tools to see and prevent these problems in the first place.
8. Inclusive Leadership
Set your leadership up to be strong proponents of DEI by offering courses in leadership skills.
Including all team members can be difficult, especially when leading a remote or hybrid team. Show leaders how to be proactive about recognizing and supporting all teammates equally.
Content within this topic could include:
- Removing unconscious bias when hiring
- Communication skills that encourage others to share their opinions
- Active listening skills
- Emotional and cultural intelligence to understand different perspectives
9. Bystander Intervention
Help employees know what to do when they see a violation at work.
DEI training isn’t complete until people know how to take action based on what they’ve learned. Include content to explain:
- Why confronting discrimination is important
- The barriers to confronting discrimination
- How to confront discrimination effectively
Make it clear that when everyone supports the cause, an inclusive culture will develop more naturally. Then give them the skills to be part of the change.
After Training, What?
These topics will get you started in discussing and implementing a culture of inclusion in your organization. But training alone is not enough. Especially if it’s a one-off or annual event. So, make sure you follow up and reinforce your training efforts.
Give employees a chance to review their training through refresher courses or regular company review sessions. Gather feedback to see how people feel about the culture and review their experiences. Then be prepared to openly admit any need for improvement and adjust your training accordingly.
There’s a lot of ground to be covered in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Training and sincere follow-up can help you create a truly inclusive workplace. And when you arm your employees with the right knowledge and tools, they’ll be an active force in building a safe and equitable environment.