5 Reasons Why Diversity Training is Important in the Workplace

Diversity training is a strategic tool for promoting inclusivity in the modern workplace. Learn how it helps to create a psychologically safe, productive workplace.

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Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic at the moment and yet despite this, some alarming statistics reveal that the commitment to diversity in many organisations is insufficient. 78% of workers claim that they see no diversity in leadership positions, and only 1% of Fortune 500 companies have a person of colour as CEO.

These statistics highlight that some organisations only pay lip service to diversity and use it as a buzzword without fully embracing it. There are many benefits to having a more diverse workforce which can only be achieved by creating an inclusive environment for your employees.

Conflicts based on differences in race, gender, religion, and culture can impact every business. They can lead to reputational and financial damages, business disruption, loss of productivity, a toxic workplace culture, and ultimately destroy company and brand value.

Building an inclusive, diverse workforce, no matter the size of your business or what industry you are in, can provide many benefits for your organisation, such as being good for your bottom line.

It can also contribute to a healthy company culture, work towards stopping discrimination, and help to provide a happier and more creative workforce.

Understanding Diversity Training

The general public increasingly expects businesses to walk the talk - demonstrate the values of diversity and inclusion in their day-to-day work. For example, more job seekers check the company’s diversity record when deciding whether to apply for a job.

A tech business may have a fancy ai domain name or boast top investors, but if it does not have a good track record in promoting diversity, this may not be enough to attract top talent. Yet, despite the known benefits, many businesses still don’t invest in diversity training programmes.

Diversity training is a program designed to educate employees about the importance of workplace inclusivity and embracing differences. The main objective of diversity training is to promote understanding, respect and empathy among employees.

5 Reasons Why Diversity Training Is Important in the Workplace

In some countries, like the UK, businesses are legally required to adhere to anti-discrimination and equality laws. Many employers make their on-going diversity training mandatory for their employees to make sure they comply with the regulations.

Other than compliance and financial benefits that workforce diversity brings, some of the other reasons why diversity training is important in the workplace include the following:

1. Better inclusivity

By implementing diversity training, a business can encourage its workforce to consider perspectives and experiences different to their own. It helps to raise awareness about unconscious bias and stereotypes, encouraging employees to recognise and challenge these biases.

Diversity training allows everyone on the team to feel welcome and helps them to behave in a more open minded and considerate manner. This, in turn, promotes a healthy workplace culture, increases productivity and leads to a more open and accepting work environment where all individuals feel valued and respected.

2. Improved decision making, creativity and innovation

A diverse workforce is more likely to generate diverse perspectives and, hence, innovative solutions and ideas. Diversity training helps employees leverage their differences, communicate and collaborate effectively. In an inclusive workplace employees feel free to voice their opinions and ideas. This leads to better decision making and problem-solving, drives creativity and innovation, giving the organisation a competitive edge.

3. Strong employee engagement

Numerous technological solutions, such as a remote desktop connection for Mac, help businesses to bring their teams together. At the same time, employee engagement initiatives, such as diversity training, are hugely important to promote team connection and collaboration.

Diversity training helps shape a positive workplace culture where employees are motivated to perform at their best, leading to increased productivity and retention rates. When employees feel included, valued and psychologically safe, they are happier - their job satisfaction and engagement rise.

4. Reduced discrimination and harassment

Discrimination and harassment can have devastating consequences for both employees and the business. The analysis, conducted by law firm Fox & Partners, found that within one year between 2021 and 2022 the number of employment tribunal claims citing allegations of bullying increased by 44% - a record high.

A rise of remote working might have led to new ways of harassment, such as rude remarks made on video calls, being excluded from virtual meetings or using messaging apps to gossip about a colleague. Bullying itself is not sufficient grounds for an employment tribunal claim, however, if the bullying behaviour relates to a protected characteristic, an employee can claim discrimination.
By law, employers have a duty of care towards their employees. Diversity training provides tools and strategies to identify and address issues of bullying, discrimination and harassment, creating a safer and more equitable workplace.

5. Talent diversity and remote working

Diversity leaders already attract diverse, high potential talent. Having diversity training and other diversity & inclusion programmes in place are the green flags candidates are looking for, allowing businesses to attract new high quality employees while retaining existing talent.

As more companies adopt remote working, we are discovering that remote work can enable greater diversity as the hiring pool grows exponentially. The continuing shift to remote working is a great opportunity for businesses to accelerate building inclusive and diverse cultures.

Providing remote working employees with a remote access solution is just part of the challenge. Engaging employees, making them feel heard, valued and respected is another, which is why diversity training is so important in the workplace.

Additionally, incorporating virtual team building activities can further foster connections and collaboration among remote teams, enhancing the sense of belonging and inclusivity.

Alongside fostering diversity and inclusion, effective communication is vital in the remote working landscape. Companies can enhance their remote work strategies by implementing communication solutions, which enable seamless connectivity and collaboration among remote teams. Ensuring clear and efficient communication helps remote employees feel more connected to their colleagues and the company as a whole, contributing to a cohesive and productive virtual work environment.

Key Diversity Training Considerations

While the benefits of diversity training are clear, it is important to acknowledge some of the challenges when implementing it. Diversity training is not a magic bullet or a box-ticking exercise.

First, not all employees will be open to it, some might perceive it as forced political correctness or an unnecessary use of company’s time and resources. People’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviours do not change overnight. One diversity training a year will not fix discrimination and prejudice in the workplace.

Second, diversity training has to be tailored to the unique needs and culture of the business. Diversity training needs to resonate with the employees. Topics related to diversity can be sensitive and emotionally charged. Diversity training must be conducted with care and empathy so as not to cause unnecessary discomfort or offence.

It’s worth implementing an engaging Learning Management System (LMS) that can help you improve training completion and knowledge retention rates. This ensures a more interactive learning experience for employees, increasing the chances of them absorbing the information and disseminating values of diversity into the workplace.

Finally, diversity training needs to be systematic. It can’t be considered a short term, one off initiative and needs to be a part of a company-wide programme of diversity and inclusion efforts. Like everything in business, it requires a strategic reiterative approach and measurement tied to clear objectives. Not everything will work, and not right away. It is essential to consistently track the performance against the objectives.

The Importance of 360-Degree Approach

Diversity training should be an ongoing process rather than a one off event. It needs to be part of a wider 360-degree diversity and inclusion approach that may include: regular reviewing of the hiring processes, providing mentorship and development opportunities to underrepresented groups of employees, making sure flexible work programmes are in place and working, talent promotion and retention processes do not have inherent biases, etc.

“Diversity winners are going beyond standard unconscious-bias training to make inclusive leadership a core competency that is specified in job descriptions, assessed in performance reviews, supported by capability-building, and role-modelled by leaders and managers.” – Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, McKinsey

Some companies take it a step further and review new processes and technology before they are implemented to ensure that they are as bias free as possible. For example, businesses may use recruitment tracking software to ensure the hiring process is as objective as possible.

Don’t Just Tick The Box, Go Beyond It

Businesses worldwide are recognising the benefits and value of diversity and inclusion and the importance of creating and nurturing diverse and inclusive environments. Diversity training is not a mere mandatory compliance or box-ticking exercise. It is a strategic tool for promoting inclusivity, respect and understanding in the modern workplace.

By embracing diversity training as an ongoing commitment and making it part of a company-wide diversity and inclusion programme, businesses can create workplaces where employees feel psychologically safe, valued and are able to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

Initiatives like diversity training enable businesses to leverage the power of the diverse workforce, drive innovation, improve decision making, foster creativity and innovation, engage remote workers and ultimately thrive in an ever-changing, diverse and interconnected global marketplace.

Author Bio

Sam O’Brien is the Vice President of Marketing for RealVNC, leading providers of secure, reliable remote access solutions. He is a growth marketing expert with a product management and design background. Sam has a passion for innovation, growth, and marketing technology. Here is his LinkedIn.

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