Diversity & Inclusion Training: A Practitioner’s Perspective
E-Learning can play an important role in effective Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) training. I spent a combined 13 years as a D&I Manager insisting on the importance of getting in front of people (instructor facilitated) in order for any training to “stick.” I still believe in the power of face to face interactions for building relationships and a shared sense of responsibility for “the work.” But since joining the IBIS team, I’ve gained a clearer perspective on the value that quality E-Learning can add. Simply put, I’m now a believer!
Here’s something else that I learned from my years of practice that continues to ring true about D&I work in companies and organizations: training initiatives that raise awareness, and even give people the tools to change their practice is not enough, no matter how good the training.
The truth be revealed
I recently spent two days doing focus group research and design work with a group of managers. Our conversation centered on defining specific language regarding related skills as a first step in the process of developing cultural competency across the organization. Everyone easily agreed on the importance of the initiative. Everyone was willing to dig deep to ensure the relevance of this initiative to the organization’s mission. The cultural competency language developed will serve as the foundation for D&I training. When we got to actually scheduling the training, one manager exclaimed in distress, “Wait a minute – my new staffers won’t even be settled regarding the details of their jobs yet; how can we talk about them developing cultural competency?!”
All too often D&I work is seen as something separate, positioned as an “add-on,” and not integral to improved employee performance and organizational outcomes, and as essential to realizing an organization’s mission. Companies need to be intentional to draw people away from this compromising paradigm. The long term and sustainable impact of D&I training must be tied to business strategy and measured for results. Does the “needle” actually move, for example, in such areas as recruitment, retention, employee engagement, new products and new markets?
The IBIS report
Measuring this impact is exactly where IBIS is looking to go. In case you missed our last newsletter, here’s a link describing this effort (New Report: Measuring the Impact of D&I Training). As the article states, “With companies spending thousands of dollars on D&I training, being able to show the predictive impact of D&I training is critical for D&I officers when trying to get buy-in from company executives.”
I facilitated a workshop in February on HR’s Leadership Role in D&I work sponsored by the Northeast Human Resource Association (NEHRA). The workshop was hosted by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC). Here’s the only reason I’m mentioning the workshop: a number of HPHC employees attended, and they were clearly “jazzed!” Why? Because at HPHC, D&I training does not stand alone. Their training and overall D&I work are positioned as business strategy. This draws its people beyond awareness to actually move the needle regarding outcomes, thereby enhancing the organization’s competitive edge. HPHC has established six “inclusion business tracks” – marketplace connection, workforce development, supplier and vendor contracting, health care equity, community engagement and enterprise leadership. As Eric Schultz, President and CEO states, “We have surrounded these tracks with robust thinking, staff resources and a determination to get results.”
The results coming from HPHC and other companies that position their training and overall D&I work as business strategy speak for themselves.