How To Drive Gender Equality With Diversity and Inclusion Training

Recent research has indicated that diversity and inclusion training (D&I) is an important tool for driving gender equality in the workplace. Conversations with practising training professionals indicate how you can harness the power of D&I to drive gender equality in your organisation.

The dawn of a new decade is upon us, and individuals and companies alike assume that gender equality in the workplace is a given. It’s 2020 after all!

Unfortunately, the reality for women in the workplace is far less utopian than many would like to think. There are significant differences across EU member states, but the European Commission’s report on equality between men and women found that the gender pay gap in the EU averages a whopping 16% across the Union. Clearly, there is clearly more work to be done on advancing gender equality in the workplace.

Enter D&I training. According to the 2019 L&D report, D&I training has shown impressive results in organisations across industries driving gender equality and organisational growth. The report found 72% of companies offering D&I training saw growth last year, and growing companies are 72% more likely to have high diversity within their organisation.

While training options are not fool proof solutions to solve all your issues in driving gender equality – it offers the tools for you to do your part in driving gender equality from within your organisation.

Read on to discover practising training professionals’ experiences (documented in the report) to understand how they harnessed the power of D&I training to implement more effective diversity strategies. D&I training may be the tool you’ve been searching for to make a real impact on the gender equality landscape in your company.

Small Initiatives Still Pack a Punch!

If tackling the gender equality discussion feels like a daunting undertaking, take a breath! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and building an effective training programme takes significant time, effort and strategy to get right, and to produce results.

According to Texanna Reeves, the Executive Director of the Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence at Merck, “For those organizations that might be at the beginning of their D&I journey, start small,” she says. “Then, focus on your audience in terms of who you want to have an impact on first and then build up from there. Really look at where you can get started and then just go ahead and chip away at it!”

Combine Formal and Informal Training Initiatives

Implementing small training initiatives is a great way to infuse D&I into employees’ day-to-day experience in the workplace and make them more aware of the importance of gender equality more informally. For some organisations, formal and informal professional development is an entirely new landscape, and resources to bring in external experts may be slim. Exploring courses specifically designed for your needs will give you the leadership tools to minimize the potential disruption of driving D&I for you and your teams.

At the corporate investment and incubation firm BCG Digital Ventures, complementing formal training initiatives with informal training ideas have combined to form what Learning and Development Specialist Max Avruch terms ‘radical inclusion.’

Taking a multi-modal approach to training, BCG DV offers its senior leadership team unconscious bias training, complemented by more informal employee business resource groups and lunch-and-learning training programming. Bringing employees with similar identities and allies together to share their experiences in the workplace and in life is a keyway that BCG DV helps its employees understand the importance of diversity in the workplace. Most importantly, it helps employees garner a first-hand understanding of diverse identity groups’ lived experiences.

Avruch finds that “So many companies hold off on D&I training until they get bigger, but by then, the culture already starts forming.” Start small, and you’ll watch your workplace continue to adopt a more progressive stance towards gender equality as your training function continue to grow and develop.

Comprehensive Strategy Breeds Comprehensive Results

Once you’ve shown employees the importance of diversity and shifted your workplace culture towards being more inclusive – how can you ensure that your efforts at driving gender equality will stick over the long term?

A comprehensive training strategy is one way to cement your efforts at the heart of your organisation’s operations. A quality D&I training programme should be multi-pronged and address multiple learning methods to reach as broad of an audience as possible.

At the Association of Junior Leagues International “It is true that a single training or resource cannot solve prejudice,” says Janine le Sueur, the VP of Programs. “We are taking an organizational approach rather than individual learning, meaning both our resource and training are designed to help Junior League leaders take intentional, systemic action to make D&I central to all aspects of their Leagues.”

By examining your organisation comprehensively, you’ll get a more realistic picture of areas where your organisation is lacking in diversity and inclusion. A wider view will illustrate more specific weak points and empower employees to take what they’ve learned in the training room and put it into practice in their own roles.

For example, by offering talent recruitment managers unconscious bias training they’ll begin to recognize how bias plays into their recruitment decisions. Working towards eliminating bias in the recruitment process will result in a more diverse talent pipeline, and help drive diversity from the ground up. That same unconscious bias training offered to team managers and team members will create a more inclusive environment within the organisation. Coupled with more inclusive workplace culture, you’ll be able to maintain your organisation’s diversity over the long term.

The Takeaway

In combination, starting with small initiatives, blending formal and informal training initiatives and approaching training comprehensively will help make driving gender diversity through D&I training as smooth an experience as possible. Whether you consider your organisation a role-model for gender diversity and/or professional development, or if this is the first time you’re hearing about D&I training, exploring your organisation’s options for betterment is always worth the effort.

Driving gender diversity should be at the top of every organisation’s agenda, but many companies have left the issue on the backburner for far too long. By using D&I training as an opportunity for driving gender equality, your employees will get a more nuanced understanding of the importance of working in a diverse and inclusive environment. Engagement with the D&I training material is one effective way to watch gender diversity flourish before your eyes.

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