Diversity training is a hot topic in the world of human resources right now. As an overall conversation, it’s tied to ongoing news headlines about discrimination, harassment, and the #metoo movement. And it’s something that every company, regardless of size, should be aware of.
When it comes to harassment and discrimination, most companies have (or should have) specific policies regarding those issues. There’s not really a policy to write about diversity, but it can be something a company includes in their written values or simply embraces in their company culture. Many companies want to increase awareness of diversity and encourage greater diversity in their company, both in how they recruit and hire employees and the company culture they create.
But like with many things in HR, you can’t simply wake up one day and decide you need to check off the box of diversity training. You need a strategic plan behind it. Why are you doing this training? If you want employees to be more aware of diversity, what does that actually mean for your organization? Do you want to increase awareness because you plan to hire more women or more Hispanic employees?
Before you embark on diversity training, ask how far your organization is willing to go to foster a culture of diversity. Some companies have diversity councils, especially around the topic of recruiting employees. If you want to increase the number of Black Americans working at your company, are you seeking out and fostering relationships with educational and organizational institutions that will increase your applicant base? If you want to recruit more Hispanic employees, are you engaging with the Hispanic chamber in your area? Are you ensuring your application materials are accessible to the groups you’re actively recruiting?
Diversity doesn’t just happen for the most part, and diversity training alone won’t get your company to where it needs to be. But diversity training can be an important step if you know what you want to talk about and what the next steps are after the training. It’s not a single box you check when you complete the training, but rather an ongoing effort at every level of your organization.
As with anything else in the HR and employee realm, you need to be intentional when it comes to diversity training. What are you ultimately trying to accomplish in your organization through this training?
It’s important to note that there’s a difference between diversity awareness training, diversity training, and sensitivity training. Diversity awareness is a more broad topic simply talking about diversity, whereas diversity training to prevent discrimination gets a fair bit more detailed in talking about stereotypes as a gateway to discrimination. Gender is also a critical topic for diversity training, as Title VII now includes gender as something you can’t discriminate on. Thus it’s important for employees to know what gender is and how it impacts them in the workplace. Sensitivity training, on the other hand, is much more broad regarding how you treat and react to other people.
Employers of all sizes need to understand today’s diverse workforce and what the future applicant pool looks like to continue to grow and thrive as a company. And that means diversity will continue to be a critical topic in business.
Need help developing custom diversity training for your organization? Contact Why HR for more information.