3 Ways to Promote Diversity and Inclusion Outside of the Classroom
How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace
The improvement of diversity and inclusion is a key strategy to achieve business success, but we need to promote it in new, innovative ways.
The idea of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is no longer simply a ‘buzzword;’ it’s a strategy. As companies grow, more and more are looking at diversity and inclusion as a way of attracting, retaining and developing great talent within their organizations. And this is spreading outside of the US. Diversity and inclusion training was ranked the fifth most important training focus for companies in the UK in 2019.
However, diversity and inclusion ‘training’ is still seen as something that involves a powerpoint presentation. We expect to learn it with a day spent in the classroom. We’ve taken so many steps forward in the prioritization of diversity and inclusion. So why are we still teaching it in the same old way?
Armed with powerful technology, like virtual reality and multi-modal approaches, there has been a recent L&D report from findcourses.com. It shows that a new wave is coming that prioritises diversity and inclusion.
You can be ahead of the curve too. Create meaningful, business-driving diversity and inclusion programming that takes place outside of the classroom, as well as within it. Find out how with our Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment Workshop.
Create ally groups/lunch and learn sessions
Learning doesn’t need to take place in the classroom, with a trainer standing in front of the class. It can happen over lunch, too.
One of the companies interviewed in the report, BCG DV, presents its senior leadership with unconscious bias training. But that’s only one part of the puzzle. Formal training is accompanied by employee business resource groups. This is where people who share identities, as well as allies, can come together. They can discuss issues that come up for them both at work and in life.
You can also look at running lunch-and-learn sessions. (BCG DV does this around programming, where anyone from the company is invited to learn coding.) It is an occasion where employees share their knowledge and insights with a wider group. This peer-to-peer learning not only helps employees build a wider network within the company. It also helps them learn something that they may not consider formally training in.
3Plus offers many Lunch & Learn Programmes. Find out more HERE.
Highlight diversity in small ways
Celebrating diversity doesn’t have to take place in formal groups either. It can be part and parcel of your office environment. You can be creative about ways to highlight the range of diversity your office, business or department shares. The key is to form a company culture that embraces diversity in a genuine way, not as a mandatory HR initiative.
BCG DV did an initiative related to LGBTQ Pride. It included putting Kinsey scales (which show the spectrum of sexual orientation) inside bathroom stalls. Employees were invited to anonymously mark where they fall on the scale. “It was a way for us to show diversity on our walls and to show people there is a spectrum around orientation,” Max Avruch from BCG DV says.
These small diversity and inclusion initiatives can add up in a major way. Together they can be an excellent complement to a formal training program. By infusing diversity and inclusion into employees’ days, employees get to learn more about issues facing a particular group. Plus they get to learn a little bit about their colleagues too.
Virtual reality is another great way to implement diversity and inclusion outside of the classroom at your organization. No longer only an abstract idea, VR is happening in offices nationwide. STRIVR, a VR coaching company with roots out of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, is at the forefront of this technology. It is being used by companies as diverse as jetBlue and the NFL.
By harnessing the technology of VR, L&D teams have an opportunity to complement existing training. In particular, they allow employees to do something that’s relatively rare when it comes to diversity and inclusion training – practice.
Picture this: Goggles on, you hold out your hands and look down. You’re a different race. Or, you’re in a wheelchair. Maybe you’re a different gender. You walk down the hallway to go into a job interview, but first stop by a mirror to fully soak in your new virtual body. You’re then immediately confronted by someone who is displaying prejudice toward you.
These scenarios are impossible to reenact in real life. “With VR, because of the on-demand nature, a real life experience can be fired up with a click of a button,” Belch says. “You can now practice these situations. You can get a legitimate, life-like scenario, with full end-to-end practice. It’s not role play. It’s alone and the stakes are free. You have this beautifully free space to practice, to stumble on your words.” - Danny Belch, STRIVR.
… And use these things to support classroom learning
“It is true that a single training or resource cannot solve prejudice,” says Janine le Sueur, the VP of Programs for The Junior League. “We are taking an organizational approach rather than individual learning. This means both our resources and training are designed to help Junior League leaders take intentional, systemic action to make diversity and inclusion central to all aspects of their work.”
Build unconscious bias training into your company's standard training programmes with 3Plus' Unconscious Bias Training Workshops.
2019 L&D Report, “Diversity & Inclusion Training Is No Longer Optional” findcourses.com
2019 L&D Report, “UK L&D Benchmarking Survey Statistics” findcourses.co.uk
Sophie Austin, Manager for findcourses.co.uk has worked in the education sector for 4 years. A qualified writer, Sophie was a researcher and contributing writer for the 2019 L&D Reports and is presently interviewing companies for the 2020 report.
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