It’s 2019 and diversity and inclusion seem to be hot topics on everyone’s mind. With a variety of different organizations advocating in the workforce, a large majority of operating organizations in North America are now offering specific diversity and inclusion training seminars. Does this training really make an organization’s workforce more inclusive? Does it change years of latent stereotypes? Are there certain industries that are benefiting more than others?
What is Diversity and Inclusion training?
Recent studies have suggested that many North American organizations are providing some sort of diversity & inclusion training. Whether it is a seminar, an online course, or a classroom learning session, most people are learning about how to incorporate group differences in the workplace. Those in the learning, development and training sector are busy teaching other professionals about sensitivity and empathy, as well as cultural competence and unconscious or latent bias training. Essentially, with a more diverse workforce than ever seen before, it is important that all employees are sensitive as to what is appropriate and inappropriate in the workplace.
We also find that especially with older generations who were not necessarily brought up in such a diverse and inclusive environment, it is even more important to continually teach employees what is appropriate and what is not. When a male senior executive tells a female subordinate that he is surprised by the work she was able to complete before an impending deadline as he thought her husband wouldn’t want her to work late, it would be beneficial for this organization to provide better training on the impact of such comments on both the worker and also the working culture. Or if an employee is eating ethnic food in the break room and another employee makes a remark about it being smelly, you would be identifying another instance for a need for diversity and inclusion training.
Why is it necessary?
In comparison to 50 years ago, employees are much more dialed in to their identity and are much more likely to discuss it with their co-workers. In the past, women had specific employment opportunities based on their gender, in comparison to the jobs that men were supposed to do. Now you see female engineers and male nurses, which used to be stereotypically female or male roles, with more people of both genders occupying the jobs. This trend is also seen in management. Years ago, it used to be a huge shock if a CEO was a woman. Now there are many women at the C-level of a variety of different industries. While women are still more likely to be in the C-suite of a stereotypically female industry (such as cosmetics or fashion), they are now also leading organizations in fields that are traditionally male dominated (such as technology or automotive).
With the gender gap closing at all levels, diversity and inclusion training is increasingly important to ensure that all employees are given the same opportunities and are treated in the same manner. The goal is to have employees in their roles based on their abilities, potential for improvement, and intrinsic motivation, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.
What are the benefits of Diversity and Inclusion training?
Data shows that organizations with strong diversity and inclusion practices and support were also much more likely to have experienced recent financial growth in comparison to organizations that did not provide such training. Companies that have highly engaged employees who take active part in training are more likely to see positive benefits, both directly and indirectly from the training.
Beyond increases in overall bottom lines, organizations that offer such training also nurture higher levels of organizational innovation and creativity. When employees trust that they can be creative without judgment in an organization, their minds can perform to their true creative potential. When employees innately know that they will not be judged for their most creative ideas, they are more likely to push the current boundaries of their field and have new discoveries. When employees feel safe and trusted, there’s no limit to how far they will go for their organizations.