Why You Should Encourage Diversity Training in Your Team

Diversity and inclusion are more than just buzz words in the business world. Companies are investing greatly in making sure that their workplaces are made up of a range of individuals because of the real benefits that this has to offer to their organisations.

Their efforts include hiring diversity managers to ensure that the workforce has people of different genders, race, ethnicity, age, sexuality and from vast backgrounds.

Companies like SAP software solutions do not leave it up to chance, they use data metrics to ensure that diversity policies are adhered to. Metrics also track how promotions are distributed amongst their diverse qualified workers.

In addition to that, these companies ensure that their employees are sensitive to the differences of their colleagues by carrying out diversity training.

Diversity training may be conducted in the form of lectures, role play, courses, presentations, or a combination of some (or all) of there. It is normally divided into two categories;

Awareness based training: which uses case studies to sensitise employees. They are taught the importance of diversity and made aware of their latent or overt prejudices towards others.

Skills based training: this equips employees with the skills to navigate cross-cultural differences with mutual respect. Communication is one skill that can be imparted here.

Here are just a few reasons why your company should have a diversity training program if you don’t already have one in place.

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Increased collaboration

Organisations that embrace diversity training can see an increase in collaboration amongst team members. This can result in better output.

According to a study by Richard Freeman a Harvard economics professor and Wei Huang about how groups of scientists work, when scientists from diverse groups worked together, they produced more noteworthy publications.

Their publications were more cited than those of scientists in less diverse groups. This is in part due to the fact that the diverse groups produced work which contained different perspectives.

Opens employees up to new ways of thinking

Seeing things in new ways is the cornerstone of innovation. Employees who receive diversity training are challenged to recognise their own biases and forge new ways of interacting with others.

This thinking fosters a growth mind-set that can result into out of the box thinking in other areas of work. This can be a precursor to innovating products that offer greater solutions.

Having to put oneself in another’s shoes can encourage empathy for colleagues. In this way, diversity training can foster trust amongst colleagues and result in improvements in team work.

Diversity training can also improve relationships with not just workmates but with customers and people outside of the workplace.

It is a smart way to equip your team with a number of skills

Diversity training includes several skills and competencies. In order to thrive in a diverse team, employees need to learn communication, conflict management, problem-solving, self-assessment and more.

It is more affordable to train your teams on diversity than to teach them each of those skills separately.

It can have financial returns

Diverse teams that work well together have been reported to have high financial returns.

According to one study, companies with gender diversity on their executive teams were 15% more likely to see above average profitability. This means that diversity and diversity training are not just intra-organisational issues but ones that can create a competitive advantage.

It can protect companies from liability

Having a diversity training program is taking a step towards reducing the risk of workplace discrimination and harassment claims. It is human to harbour certain biases, some that you might not be aware of.

Unfortunately, saying ‘I did not know’ will not save the company from legal ramifications if one of their employees is accused of discrimination.

While Organisations like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the United States enforce laws against discrimination, it is not mandatory for companies to have diversity training. However it is advisable to proactively have the training.

It helps boost employee retention

Everybody wants to work at a company where they are valued. A company that conducts diversity training confirms to all employees that they are indeed valued. This can improve morale and lead to retention, both of which can result in numerous benefits for a company.

In addition to retention, diversity training can be a bonus during recruitment. Top talent will want to work in a place that is not only diverse but that is training their staff on diversity and inclusion.

It improves brand perception

While customer perception is hard to measure accurately, it is of great importance.  It is the value of how customers feel and think about your company. And it can be the reason why customers opt for a competitor’s product.

According to this article, ‘brands, act as shorthand in the consumers’ minds, of the set of functional and emotional associations and of trust.’ Diversity training can be interpreted as a company caring about making everyone welcome and comfortable. The company might be perceived by customers as more caring on the whole.

Diversity Training in Your Team

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Tips to get diversity training right

Train everyone

Diversity training is an organisation wide issue. While it might be more affordable to train only your management team, it is more effective when everyone receives the training.

Do it proactively, before something goes wrong

There is likely to be resistance if training is done after an incident occurs in the workplace. Employees might view it as a punishment, especially those who are accused.

Put it in human, rather than legal, terms

While diversity training is a legal issue, it is also a very human one. The training shouldn’t only focus on what the law says and the legal ramifications. It should also include how people feel and how they would like to feel.

In Summary

Diversity training is about teaching employees to respect each other’s differences in a workplace committed to achieve a single objective. When done right, diverse teams are stronger and according to research, can even report higher financial returns for an organisation.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.