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IBIS shares news, insight and best practices about pressing Diversity & Inclusion and Unconscious Bias topics in today’s workplace.

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4 Effective Principles for Racial Equity Training

Is your organization thinking about offering racial equity training but you’re not sure how to get started? Since the death of George Floyd, many organizational leaders have wondered, “How do I address gaps in racial equity in a way that is meaningful and authentic?”

We’re sharing four key principles to help you confidently address racial inequity within your organization.

Through education and the social awareness that has developed over time, it’s clear that Black employees in the United States need different support than other employees, because they encounter different social challenges than other racial groups. As a result, leaders are working to understand the unique needs of Black employees.

At IBIS, we believe it is crucial to bring the experience of Black employees to the forefront. In addition, the lessons that come from creating more equitable opportunities for Black people can help benefit many marginalized people of color.

Both in the U.S. and around the world, broader dialogue about racism has led to increased understanding about how biases shape organizations and systems. Racial equity is a term that describes the first step toward righting those wrongs and finding meaningful ways to empower oppressed communities of color.

At IBIS, we define equity as: an intentional and continuous effort to address imbalances and to ensure that all people have access to the same opportunities.

We build on that definition to further define racial equity as: the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares.

Equity is not the same as equality. While equality dictates that each person receives the same resources, equity helps us know that people need different things to succeed, even if that means uneven distribution of resources, time, or support. Click here to read an IBIS Insight article about equity.

We’ve identified four KEY PRINCIPLES for effective racial equity training.

  1. Listen. Listen to what your employees are feeling. It’s not easy to create opportunities where employees can speak honestly and from the heart, but it is well worth the effort. Any action taken should be tailored to the specific needs of the employees. The proprietary IBIS FLEX model helps learners start to Focus Within, which supports the process of tuning in and listening to others.
  2. Understand. Understand that everyone is at a different place and has a different experience when it comes to racial equity work. People of color, for instance, might find aspects of racial training frustrating if their lived experience is unfamiliar to those who have never been on the receiving end of racism. Our facilitators are careful to support all participants as they contribute to the dialogue. We use the IBIS FLEX model to engage learners in Learning About Others as the second stage, which is key to breaking through our own assumptions and reckoning with the impact of bias on others.
  3. Educate. Equity means meeting people where they are, which is why we recommend educating people on race – from the history of racism to the major issues of today. Each experience with racism is vastly different and the solutions that they are looking for are also vastly different. The third step in the IBIS FLEX model helps learners build the skills to Engage in Inclusive Dialogue, which deepens and facilitates education.
  4. Expand. Finally, we reach the X in the FLEX model – “eXpand” Your Options. Once learners have mastered the three components listed above, we encourage them to consider how they can impact the systems around them to build in permanent change.

Racial equity training at IBIS reaches multiple industries, including technology, banking, and media, but all shares common learning objectives.

First, learners start to identify how racial inequities and racism show up in the workplace and recognize the importance of advancing racial equity and promoting a sense of belonging.

Over time, they learn to:

  • Apply strategies to overcome common challenges in initiating race-based conversations
  • Identify biases that perpetuate racial inequities in daily interactions
  • Prepare individuals to recognize individual privilege and power
  • Use it to promote racial equity, and to name and practice allyship and anti-racist behaviors

The format is flexible, but our most popular virtual racial equity training is 3.5 hours long and features two facilitators and a suite of professional actors who perform real-life scenes from the workplace.

To find out more about our racial equity trainings, or to speak to our Chief Growth Officer about trainings, assessments and other approaches to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion goals for your organization, contact us today.


CEO Shilpa Pherwani collaborates with leaders to develop innovative, engaging solutions to dismantle systemic inequities and leverage diversity for success. An organizational psychologist by training, she builds trusting, long-term relationships through deep listening and meeting people where they are.

Cedar Pruitt is a Senior Consultant at IBIS specializing in leadership and culture that allows everyone to thrive, whether it’s at a competitive university, mid-size financial firm, an innovative start-up, or something completely different.