Diversity equity and inclusion may sometimes seem like buzzwords in professional settings, but these are all very important notions.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are beneficial for several reasons. Not only does it help align company practices with its ethical standards. But also, having a diverse range of voices can result in a more productive and unified workplace. When taken seriously, diversity, equity, and inclusion mean that every voice is being heard within an organization.
While diversity in itself is good, it is not always the same as inclusion. In order to be truly diverse and inclusive, many companies rely on effective diversity training programs. Diversity training can help bridge the gap between perspectives and facilitate an even more productive work environment.
The importance of diversity is multifaceted. Diversity can refer to differences in race, ethnicity/culture, disability status, age, gender, orientation, religion, or even education and language. Every individual has a unique set of experiences and perspectives to bring to the table.
From the perspective of the individual, diversity and inclusion matter because of validation and opportunity. If an individual feels excluded simply because of their background, they are not receiving fair access to resources and career opportunities. This is both professionally unjust, and personally upsetting.
From the perspective of a company, diversity matters because of the value that comes from differing perspectives. If every member of a company shares identical perspectives on every issue, the company will struggle to solve problems. Innovation and productivity often arise from combining multiple perspectives in the pursuit of a similar goal. This is made easier when diversity and inclusion in the workplace are prioritized within a company.
Of course, diversity and inclusion in the workplace are also legally important. Most businesses and industries are required to meet certain moral and legal standards related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. These legal requirements alone should not be the only reason to champion diversity, however. For a truly healthy and diverse work environment, earnest inclusion should be the goal.
Diversity training in the workplace improves company-wide performance and work culture surrounding diversity. While every company’s diversity training program should be unique and catered to its own staff, some elements are universally essential.
Every staff member who participates in diversity training should be fully aware of the goals of the training program. This helps individuals to focus on key points and to understand what issues need to be taken seriously. Having clearly defined goals also makes it easier to successfully facilitate a diversity training program without disruptions.
It is often necessary to review some diversity issues that can occur in your specific workplace. While it is best to avoid making anybody feel singled out, it is also important to highlight real diversity examples. This allows all trainees to see for themselves the ways in which diversity can impact opinions and working conditions.
Diversity training can, and often should, take people out of their comfort zone. It’s important to allow this to happen without anyone feeling threatened or unsafe. Diversity training in the workplace must always emphasize compassion and safety, especially when tackling difficult issues. This allows trainees to discuss and work through challenging topics.
Lastly, the individual leading the diversity training program needs to be qualified and respected. Many companies will bring in an outside diversity trainer, or have a qualified trainer on staff for these occasions. The trainer needs to be comfortable leading a discussion and helping others feel safe and supported.
Want to learn more about diversity, inclusion, or leadership in the workplace? Browse ASAP’s professional training resources for more articles, courses, and webinars.