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Diversity Training: Developing Skills and Knowledge for an Inclusive Workplace

April 26, 2024
Diverse team gathers in a seminar to discuss strategy.

Diversity training encourages people to accept one another, regardless of their differences. It promotes a harmonious workplace atmosphere where employees feel valued for their contributions and perspectives.

There is a tremendous business case for diversity and inclusion. Research from Deloitte shows that inclusive work environments are eight times more likely to achieve strong business outcomes and three times more likely to be high-performing.1 That makes the time, money and effort spent on diversity training highly worthwhile.

Companies are responsible for adhering to employment regulations, and diversity training can help. Besides the legal benefits, a robust diversity training program demonstrates that an organization cares about its ethical responsibilities. This guide explains the various types of diversity and inclusion training.

Understanding Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion is the practice of embracing all people, regardless of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, ethnicity and abilities.1 It encourages people to accept one another and recognize any implicit biases or stereotypical beliefs they hold.

The benefits of a diverse workforce are well-documented. According to McKinsey, companies with higher gender diversity within their executive teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability.2 In addition to greater financial returns, companies with diverse workforces see higher employee motivation and satisfaction.2

Cultural Competence Training

Cultural competence training teaches people how to interact with individuals from different cultures. It provides people with knowledge, awareness and skills to help them understand and work through cultural differences.3

Sometimes, people may not understand the intricacies of cross-cultural communication. Building awareness of cultural differences can help avoid misunderstandings that lead to conflict and help people embrace diverse perspectives.3

Unconscious Bias Training

Most people have unconscious biases toward others they don’t realize exist. Those biases may come from their childhood upbringing, personal experiences or media. Unconscious bias training seeks to uncover those biases and promote self-awareness so people recognize when they may be unduly judgmental of another person’s actions.4

Strategies to reduce unconscious biases include recognizing the triggers for these biases and how they develop. As people learn more about their biases, they can recognize them when they arise. That can reduce unnecessary workplace friction and promote an inclusive environment. It also encourages objective decision-making.4

Inclusive Leadership Development

Inclusive leadership development teaches future and existing leaders to create an equitable environment where everyone feels comfortable. It promotes humility, cultural intelligence, bias awareness and effective employee engagement among all team members.5

Through inclusive leadership development, trainers teach vital skills, such as diversity awareness, understanding cultural identities and fostering an inclusive work environment. Participants learn to role model inclusive behavior to encourage their staff to adopt similar behaviors.5

LGBTQ+ Inclusivity Training

An LGBTQ+ inclusivity training program teaches leaders the skills to accept and embrace LGBTQ+ team members.6 When LGBTQ+ employees feel accepted, they’re more likely to feel comfortable in the workplace and collaborate with their peers.

This inclusivity training starts with the fundamentals, such as understanding the differences in gender and sexuality. It encourages participants to adopt inclusive language terms, such as cisgender, transgender and non-binary.6 Individuals learn how to practice LGBTQ+ awareness and develop the tools necessary to work together with their peers, leading to a supportive work environment.

Disability Awareness Training

Many employees live with disabilities. In fact, the CDC notes that nearly 25% of U.S. adults have some form of disability.7 A disability awareness and inclusion training program helps individuals learn about disabilities and how to practice acceptance among those with them.

Individuals with disabilities may need specific accommodations, such as improved accessibility, flexible work schedules, and extra assistance with job tasks. Other tools that can help encourage disability awareness in the workspace include service animals, accessible parking, and job reorganization.

Inclusive hiring practices are essential to ensuring an equitable hiring process. Disability awareness training identifies ways employers can provide disabled individuals equal job opportunities. Practices may include blind hiring and assembling a diverse hiring panel.8

Gender and Sexuality Sensitivity

It is crucial to ensure that men, women, and transgender people feel comfortable in the workplace. Gender training promotes gender equity, helping leaders and employees understand gender stereotype threats and how to overcome them.6 It also helps encourage gender inclusivity and intersectionality in the workplace.

Intersectionality in the Workplace

Intersectionality is a concept that shows people have more than one identity.9 For instance, a transgender person may have a disability and an ethnic background. Understanding how various identities intersect in the workplace is crucial to building an equal environment for everyone.

Measuring the Impact of Diversity Training

There are various ways to measure the impact of a diversity training program. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) helps evaluate your workplace diversity training efforts.10 You can use them to set objectives and evaluate your results over time.

Employee feedback and surveys help employers understand how workers feel about their diversity initiatives and where improvements may be necessary. Continuous improvement and adaptation help to further ingratiate diversity efforts within the organization.

Creating an Inclusive Workplace Culture

Establishing an inclusive culture through policies and practices demonstrates your company’s commitment to inclusivity in the workplace. Aside from training programs, you can promote an inclusive workplace culture through other tools. Employee resource groups, or ERGs, help employees form bonds and strengthen connections among people with shared identities.

Promoting diversity in leadership roles also shows the company’s commitment to creating a more inclusive workforce.

Case Studies and Success Stories

One example of a company successfully implementing diversity and inclusion training is Indeed.11 The organization uses employee development training tools to create an extensive DE&I program tailored for managers to promote inclusion through building trust, understanding microaggressions and embracing diversity. Results showed 100% improvement in creating a sense of belonging among teams. 95% of participants reported learning something new that contributed to their understanding of inclusivity in the workplace.

Future Trends in Diversity Training

As diversity training continues to evolve, companies will need to adapt. Potential areas impacting diversity training include generative AI, the changing legal landscape for DEI initiatives and geopolitical turmoil.12 Organizations should monitor diversity training trends to account for evolving workplace dynamics.

Learn More About Diversity Training and Inclusion at Tulane Law

Tulane University School of Law’s online Master of Jurisprudence in Labor & Employment Law is a non-JD legal degree that offers robust in employment law for human resources professionals, people managers and more. Through courses like Introduction to Employment Discrimination Law Principles and Strategies and Contemporary Sex and Gender Issues in the Workplace, you will learn the relevant laws that shape the DEI programs and policies workplaces have in place today.

The MJ-LEL equips you with the legal framework to develop and implement policies that will impact the day-to-day lives of people at your company. Join Tulane Law online to become a confident professional who drives real-world change.

Schedule a call with the admissions team today to learn more.