Training Program on Diversity and Inclusion
Organizations that are able to capitalize on the diversity of its members of staff are consistently looking and addressing the systematic barriers within the company’s policies, services, practices, and programs that exclude individuals in the organization. It is thus imperative to develop a diversity and inclusion training program to promote a culture of diversity and inclusivity in the organization.
Diversity is a constant issue in any organization that needs to be reinforced, and cultivated rather than being ignored. When employees are able to identify and appreciate their similarities and differences, they will inadvertently become better employees. A sense of teamwork is sure to develop and be strengthened when diversity is respected, upheld and communicated. Open communication regarding diversity will help the employees respect and celebrate their differences. They will also learn how to identify and correct any stereotypes present in the workplace. Finally, diversity appreciation will help the employees to find common ground and solve some of the problems that may occur in the workplace.
The training program will ensure that the management of the company is able to continuously attract a diverse pool of talented people to the organization. In addition, the program will equip the employees with the necessary support and tools to aid them in the creation of an innovative company. An innovative culture will give the company a competitive edge in different types of market including the labor market.
The purpose of the training program is to develop a workforce that is a true reflection of the community within which the company operates. Another goal of the training program is to identify and solve barriers within the company’s structure. Furthermore, the program will aid in the creation of processes, services, practices, and policies that serve the diverse needs of the community being served. The final objective is to attract and retain a skilled workforce that is able to treat each other and the entire community with respect.
Prior review of available research will result in the identification of some common elements that can be used in achieving inclusion and diversity practices that are sustainable. Some of the common elements that should be entrenched in the training program will include committed leadership, dedicated resources, scope of goals, objectives, and activities, training opportunities, focused education, making objectives aligned with business goals, review, and development of policies, promoting shared and individual accountability and responsibility as well as measurement and evaluation of the results of the training program.
The first step in developing the training program is to develop the vision of the program as well as the values that will guide the first line supervisors in achieving the aforementioned vision. The following step is to develop a working group that is tasked with training and educating the rest of the employees on issues that deal with diversity and inclusion. The selected team will also come up with an appropriate implementation plan.
A significant part of the training program is helping the employees understand the different layers of diversity. Understanding the various degrees of diversity will assist the employees in determining or identifying some of the hidden biases, prejudice, and mis-conceptions that they might have for people who seem completely different from them. The layers of diversity are largely grouped into population characteristics, work status, and character. Personality is intertwined with all these layers of diversity.
Designing activities, that center around building diversity and inclusion is an essential component of any effective training program. The training program will encompass a variety of activities that aim to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace (Keil, Amershi, Holmes, Jablonski, Luthi, Matoba, Plett, & von Unruh, 2007). The activities are aimed to relax the group, to challenge the group, introduce the next segment, or to re-unite the group of employees after an intense session.
The activities chosen for the training program will focus on addressing pertinent issues such as how to identify discriminatory behaviors and remarks. They will also help the learners develop steps in addressing such discriminatory occurrences in the workplace. Finally, the multi-thronged approach is meant to help the learners come up with their own specific goals regarding their own behavior in the workplace.
When coming up with activities for the training program, it is imperative that the members of the Work Group consider the age of the participants. The developers of the program should be careful not to ignore an activity under the impression that the group is too mature for certain activities (Danowitz, Hanappi-Egger, Hofmann, 2009). There are several instances where the group will feel more relaxed after engaging in an activity that seems juvenile to most.
Some activities are described as icebreakers as they are responsible for helping the trainees to form groups and work within teams. They are usually performed at the beginning of a meeting so that people can begin feeling comfortable around one another. The trainees will be asked to introduce each other at the beginning of a meeting. This does not mean that icebreakers cannot be used at any other point in time during the diversity and inclusion training program. There are times when icebreakers are used when the group needs a break or after lunch to get the individuals back into the mindset of the meeting.
The employees need to be divided into smaller work groups to achieve the task of training more efficiently and much quicker. The small work groups need to be as diverse as possible in order for the best results to be achieved. When dividing the group it is important to avoid routine and over-used methods of dividing the group. The overall outcome of the training program may be compromised if such methods are employed. Thus, new and creative methods need to be implemented for the effective splitting of the groups.
The social learning theory and the adult learning theory will play an integral role in the development of the activities that will be used in the training program. The social learning theory stipulates that learning can take place in a social context and can occur through observation alone without reinforcement or motor reproduction (Danowitz, Hanappi-Egger, Hofmann, 2009). The activities undertaken in the training program will support this theory because the employees can learn about diversity and inclusion by simply observing or following the direct instructions of the leaders of the group. They will also performing the activities in a social context that facilitates more engagement and participation in the entire training program.
The adult learning theory encourages the learners to develop their own goals and promotes collaboration in the teams (Merriam, 2009). As such, the activities in the training program will require the adult learners to create their own objectives and goals that they would like to see achieved by the end of the training session. Furthermore, the program’s activities will also promote collaboration, as they require the team members to work and learn together through their participation.
In addition, the adult learning theory stipulates that adults are most concerned about learning subjects that provide the most relevance for their occupation. In this instance, the adults will be eager to learn about inclusion and diversity because the two have a direct impact on their jobs. Diversity and inclusion play a big role on how the individual employee feels about his work environment and can motivate or demotivate him from performing at an optimal level.
Danowitz, M. A., Hanappi-Egger, E., & Hofmann, R. (2009). Managing gender and diversity in organizations. In The Future International Manager(pp. 70-93). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Keil, M., Amershi, B., Holmes, S., Jablonski, H. Luthi, E., Matoba, K., Plett, A., & Unruh, K.V. (2007). Training Manual for Diversity Management.
Merriam, S.B. (2001). Andragogy and self-directed learning: Pillars of adult learning theory. New directions for adult and continuing education, 2001(89), 3-14.