Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work is an ongoing process to cultivate a work environment where everyone can thrive. DEI is a journey, so it’s critical to contextualize what that journey means for your workforce.
The most impactful training is tailored to the specific organization’s culture, goals, and values. Training is effective when participants understand why this work matters to them, and what they can do to effect change using what they’ve learned.
Why Contextualize DEI
We know that the business and employee challenges facing a large tech organization are very different from those facing a small local retail organization, but they may want the same outcome: Culturally competent leaders who can provide identity-aware feedback. To get to that outcome, the practical applications used in a training must be directly relevant to the team members in the room. If participants are asked to practice a new skill using a scenario that they’d never face in their workday, it’s harder for them to connect the dots and easier to disengage or dismiss the training as irrelevant to their work or sphere of influence. Successful DEI training is applicable to employees’ roles and responsibilities, and takes into consideration the various power dynamics and the nuance within them.
The Importance of Ongoing DEI Training
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not static concepts. They are constantly evolving, and so should the DEI goals and initiatives of an organization. Establishing a solid foundation of DEI, the mission, values, and policies is a critical step. It provides a “true north” for everyone in the organization. Turning that foundation from philosophy into action is the next challenge. Ongoing DEI training helps bridge the gap between theory and outcomes, creating a culture of learning and a constant space for dialogue against the backdrop of an ever-shifting societal landscape. Having the space to learn how to recognize and address implicit bias, microaggressions, and power dynamics gives teams and leaders the tools they need to engage with one another and with their communities outside of work. Diverse teams are typically more innovative and better at anticipating shifts*. The skills learned in DEI training translate to more effective communication, increased adaptability, and expansive thinking, which all contribute to a more engaged and effective workforce and a greater sense of belonging and purpose for team members.
Investing in truly impactful DEI initiatives promotes a healthy workplace culture, which we all deserve.
Ongoing DEI training is key to a more inclusive workplace, and more equitable and inclusive organizations have been shown to outperform their less inclusive and equitable counterparts*. To truly effect change, DEI training should be customized to address the specific needs of an organization, its workforce, and where they are on their journey. It should be integrated into the organization’s culture, from its core foundation to each individual’s day to day experience.
To support new skills and behaviors being built in training sessions, organizations must also be committed to creating a culture of trust, understanding, and support for all employees. This includes taking meaningful steps such as creating open communication channels and providing employees resources to grow. DEI Training is one part of a larger whole, and providing an ongoing space to build skills, engage in dialogue, and create trust across teams is a crucial component in the ecosystem of an inclusive organization.