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Why your diversity training isn’t working

Why your diversity training isn’t working

In recent years, we’ve seen a renewed dedication to diversity in the workplace. People are finally recognising the benefits of a diverse workforce and promoting inclusion and acceptance. 

And yet, a recent study by Indeed found that 62% of workers conceal part of their identity at work all or some of the time. And interestingly, although 80% of Australian workers believe that their employer would take action to address discrimination, only 69% of Indigenous Australians and 66% of non-English speaking workers actually agree.

Clearly, there is a disconnect between aiming for diversity and actually putting it into practice. Although 97% of employees say that their organisation has at least one diversity and inclusion policy, only 11% of women, 18% of LBGTIQ employees, and 14% of people from different ethnic backgrounds have actually benefited. 

Below are just some of the reasons your current diversity and inclusion program isn’t working, and how you can address them for a better outcome. 

Your employees don’t think they’re the problem

The problem with unconscious bias is that we are rarely made aware of it. Meaning that many of the people who would benefit the most from training are resistant to it, as they believe they aren’t racist, sexist, or any other ‘ist’.

In these scenarios, employees aren’t particularly open to learning, making the whole thing ineffective. Employees can even respond negatively to traditional diversity and inclusion training – it can even reinforce biases in some cases, or be divisive.

Solution: Avoid a harsh and confrontational approach, and work with participants to establish an understanding of why it’s so important to foster diversity and inclusion in their workplace. It can help to use examples of unconscious bias that are unrelated to more divisive topics to start with, to show how our brain automatically makes shortcuts. 

The training doesn’t address the core issue

Many diversity training programs are focused on awareness and education, believing that people act as they do because they don’t know better. By focusing on behaviours, rather than the (unconscious) thought process behind them, employees only gain a limited understanding of what not to say or do. 

Meaning that for scenarios that aren’t explored in the training, employees often regress to that unaddressed thought process. And ultimately, all the insights they learned in their training go ignored. 

Solution: Give your employees strategies to audit their decision-making process and identify and manage their unconscious biases. 

The training doesn’t utilise emotional intelligence

You’ve likely heard all about how emotional intelligence is an indicator of success and how it benefits the leaders in your organisation. But did you know it’s also crucial for fostering diversity and inclusion in your organisation? 

Emotional intelligence is all about self-awareness of one’s weaknesses, biases, and decision-making process, along with empathy for other people. All of which can actually make your diversity training a lot more impactful. 

Solution: Invest in training that actually considers and leverages emotional intelligence for better results. 

For diversity training that actually makes a difference, check out our Beating Unconscious Bias course. We leverage the power of emotional intelligence to help your employees recognise their unconscious biases and find effective ways to address them, along with creating an action plan to reduce unconscious bias in your organisation.



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