Diversity encompasses characteristics that make people unique. Inclusion is about the social and behavioral norms that promote welcomeness.

Diversity in the workplace definition

So then what exactly is diversity training? Diversity training in the workplace assists an organization by defining ethics among culture, job roles, and skills in order to establish respect and consideration among employees. This avoids and protects businesses from civil rights violations and creates empathy and better teamwork from employees.

Managing diversity

The importance of diversity in the workplace is to help elevate and broaden the perspectives of workers and create shared knowledge. As a manager, organizing, implementing, and executing proper diversity training takes a delicate strategy. It’s important to construct content without any assumptions of employee religion, ethnicity, income, or other cultural factors.

Many organizations use a form of elearning to initiate and refresh employees on diversity. Elearning has a few more benefits than handing each employee a packet of information and filling in some bubbles. First, by using elearning, you can refresh dated material and incorporate diversity examples in a variety of media that makes a learner more attentive to content. When it comes to quizzes, you don’t have to rifle through a stack of papers with a red pen, but instead, the grading is done for you. Additionally, if the elearning software has the feature, you can use free-response questions to gather feedback or open the floor to discussing something others are curious about. Lastly, and probably the most obvious, you’re saving time and tangible resources on your end and mindless bubble-filling on the learner’s end.

When constructing content, don’t bluntly tell employees what is right and wrong without explanation. Some things may seem obvious, but regardless, it’s important to explain why something is right or wrong. This can help avoid cognitive dissonance (resisting and idea because of initial discomfort) and broaden the minds of your employees. Additionally, phrasing should not rhetorically put the blame upon employees for potential existing biases. This can result in employees or managers feeling like they are a problem and put a damper on the enthusiasm and good attitudes within the workplace.

Let’s be clear. It’s not going to be of any benefit to go into training with the mindset that you can change people’s biases. You can’t. But you can suggest appropriate approaches to problem-solving and approaching diversity issues in order to protect the company and preserve the unity within it.

With that said, managers implementing training should be acutely trained on diversity in the workplace. Train managers just as employees, but take lengthier measurements to equip managers with the awareness and skill sets it takes to effectively manage diversity. In both training managers and employees on workplace diversity, don’t focus too much on legalities. Note them, but gear more focus toward ethical communication.

Lastly for training managers, make diversity training engaging. After using an elearning system to establish the basic practices and approaches, take time to test these methods in-person. Even using a unique learning software like Lessonly can help you do both simultaneously. But more of that later.

Economic benefits of diversity in the workplace

Diversity training enables employees to embrace differences and in turn, use those differences as advantages. The companies that thrive are the ones who recognize and embrace differences to innovate and progress. There are a myriad of benefits of diversity training. Here are just a few economical ones:

Diversity in the workplace benefits

Economic growth increases: Human capital grows with more and more diversity in the workforce.

Larger pool means a better selection of candidates: At Lessonly, we’re lucky to have a variety of talent on our team. All the different experiences and perspectives from team members help us innovate and problem-solve every day. Take an old school example: If you coach a 10-person basketball team at a small-town high school, you have a smaller pool to choose from when it comes to talent as opposed to coaching a 10-person basketball team at a large high school. More people undoubtedly means more diversity, which often results in a variety of unique talents to offer.

Avoiding turnover: Proper diversity training makes for a more social and pleasant workplace. Ignorance to diversity can give way to a hostile work environment. Employees will quit not necessarily because of the job, but because of the people surrounding them. And no company wants to be the fault of something so preventable.

Makes for a more creative and innovative workforce: With more diverse thinkers and doers, innovation and action can take place from a variety of angles. More creative ideas can be brought to the surface, honed, and built upon.

There’s a better understanding of consumers: Businesses have better insight on targeting consumers. This feeds into the previous benefit. The more variety of people you have in your workforce who are open to communicating, the more opportunity you have to sculpt perfect products.

Diversity training strategies to consider

Why is diversity training important? It takes differences and cultivates them to benefit business. Cultural diversity in the workplace fosters an appreciation for factors like gender, age, ethnicity, sex, traditions, and social status. There are a few easy ways to create a culture that attracts a diverse and inclusive workforce, including:

  • Creating a diversity statement for your organization
  • Engaging your workforce in diversity and inclusion surveys
  • Establishing a diversity committee to help deliver education on diversity

When it comes to training your workforce on diversity, we’re big fans of using elearning for essential learning. Let your learners learn on their own, then let them put what they learned into practice. This way, information is reinforced. There are a lot of really great ways to reinforce it too. Below we’ve outlined a few diversity training activities.

Using interactive diversity training activities may seem cheesy, but it can be really beneficial in creating awareness in each employee. Simply letting everyone learn about everyone else can prevent sore subjects from being brought up and nerves to be struck. Below are a few diversity training activities and cultural awareness activities to try with your team in-person:

The common thread

This is one of many great diversity icebreakers. Begin with two employees in front of the room. These two employees must create a list of five similarities between the two of them. Then, those two employees pick two more people and will keep finding similarities until everyone shares five with five different people. This exercise helps people discover common grounds they may not have assumed before

What I want you to know

This simply allows employees to brief everyone on who they are. Each person collects interesting facts, beliefs, and pet peeves about themself to share with the team. This is a great way to allow employees to set sensitive subject gauges others may not be aware of.

Diversity jeopardy

Just like the classic game show, this takes diversity categories and allows teams to use their combined brain power to learn a little bit about a lot of culture. You can use topics like ethnicity and race, cultural traditions from other countries, or geographical dress.

There are great diversity team building activities to not only break the ice, but melt it. They teach teams to notice differences and find use in them.

Deliver workplace diversity training—we can help

Lessonly by Seismic is an online training software to get teams started on the dos and don’ts in diversity and ethics. Our simple interface makes it easy to create content, manage training, and learn important lessons in diversity.

Our favorite among diversity training examples, and one we do and suggest as a team at is the  ‘About Me’ lesson creation. Each employee puts together their own lesson about themselves. Once finished, every teammate is assigned everyone else’s lesson. When creating a lesson, employees can incorporate quizzes and open-ended questions to help other employees with retention and learn or discover common ground. That’s just one example of using Lessonly by Seismic for initial diversity training. It helps break the ice while still keeping employees productive.

Additionally, administrators in Lessonly by Seismic can assign roles, deadlines, and lessons. Admins can track group learning as well as individual learning. And with any training, we strongly suggest keeping it on-going. Current events can play a big part in cultural change. With that said, content has to be updated to make learning more engaging and relevant.

Unlike many cultural awareness programs online, Lessonly by Seismic makes learning a two-way street. It’s not just for managers to push learning upon employees but to also gather feedback so that managers can gain diversity training ideas and facts they might have missed before. Learn more here.