DEI Training

Robert Clemons
Robert Clemons

Table of Contents

Diversity, equity, and inclusion training, commonly referred to as DEI Training, is vital to the success of every organization. Unconscious bias, stereotyping, and discriminatory workplace culture are products of poor DEI practices and reflect an organization’s negative perceptions and unwillingness to evolve in today’s corporate landscape. Let’s break down what DEI training means.

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What Is DEI Training?

DEI training is the deliberate effort of educating employees on the issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Different demographics face different challenges in terms of diversity, such as systematic racism, gender bias, and other discrimination. Therefore, equity’s role in DEI is vital. Equity ensures employees have the same chance to thrive within the organization as their peers, which is essential to job satisfaction and encourages the engagement HR managers to seek from their employees. Inclusion promotes an environment that encourages all employees to participate in all aspects of the organization. Inclusion increases employee engagement buy-in and dedication to the organization’s mission and vision.

Why is DEI Training Important?

Providing proper training for your employees on DEI will have a significant impact on many aspect of your workplace:

Culture

Organizational culture is a set of shared values, ethics, beliefs, and practices. Culture is benchmarked by leaders either organically or deliberately and shapes the behavior of the leadership, middle management, and every employee. An organization lacking DEI in the workplace will have difficulty retaining employees and open themselves up to potential legal liabilities and negative implications that can damage their reputation.

Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is paramount to understanding employees’ strengths, weaknesses, goals, personalities, likes, and dislikes. More importantly, it’s a way to learn more about their background. Without a DEI plan, organizations may never know some of the issues their employees face both inside and outside the workplace. Many of these issues may negatively impact employees’ personal and professional lives. Proper DEI training can help leaders alleviate some of these issues to help employees grow in all aspects of life. This level of engagement promotes buy-in within the organization and leads to better returns, employee satisfaction, and retention rates. This can increase employee salaries and add continuity to projects because employees feel valued.

Full Cycle Recruiting

Full-cycle recruiting is the practice of preparing, sourcing, conducting screening calls, establishing a candidate pool, hiring, and onboarding and is critical to an organization’s success. Organizations need to put the right people in the right place at the right time to ensure their mission can come to fruition and thrive. However, it is hard to attract the right candidates if the organization lacks a diverse group of employees and cannot display its efforts in working towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment.

Positive Perception

DEI aids positive public perception, which helps attract suitable candidates at the right time. Without diversity, equity, and inclusion established in an organization’s culture, potential candidates may be less interested in applying. They might feel that an organization that does not represent them is not a place where they can thrive.

Topics That Should Be Included in DEI Training

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias, a negative opinion we have against someone that we are not consciously aware of, is deeply ingrained in every human being. Some unconscious biases are harmless and relate to personal preferences that affect only ourselves. However, unconscious bias can be incredibly harmful and lead to organizational decisions that alienate or hurt employees. This can lead to a decrease in employee satisfaction, company productivity, and in some cases, public confidence.

Avoiding Stereotypes

Unfortunately, there are endless stereotypes about people from all walks of life. Stereotypes do not belong in the workplace no matter how big or small or innocent they seem. Stereotypes can lead to the generalization and categorization of employees, which should be avoided to champion individuality. Emphasis on individuality can boost inclusion and diversity within the workplace and ensure all individuals are valued and seen.

The Difference Between Diversity and Inclusion

There is a clear difference between diversity and inclusion. Thought leader Verna Myers said it best: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” In other words, simply including employees in different aspects of the organization’s development is not enough. Leaders have to engage with employees and genuinely take an interest in their well-being personally and professionally. They need to listen and incorporate their ideas and contributions to the projects they value and include them in those where they can gain valuable experience.

DEI Policies

One of the topics an organization should include in any DEI training plan is how the training connects to the company and its policies. Relating DEI training to relevant company policies is a chance to set a clear standard and drive home the topics discussed, how they relate to every employee and how they stay compliant. It is important to frame this as an opportunity to inform rather than establish ultimatums or give examples of situations where employees have been fired. The policy should be clear and any questions employees have should be addressed promptly.

Tips to Ensure Your DEI Training is Successful

Tip 1: Tailor the Plan

The DEI training plan needs to fit the organization’s needs. Without a tailored DEI plan, many employees will see it as simply checking the box, not a genuine effort to ensure employees have proper representation, feel safe, and see a bright future with the organization.

Tip 2: Ask for Input

Asking for input from employees on what they would like the training atmosphere to be like creates a venue that promotes relaxation and team building during DEI training. The event can take place at the workplace and include fun activities and refreshments.

Tip 3: Hire Competent Facilitators

When conducting DEI training, the facilitators must be confident enough to promote conversations from everyone and handle any unruly audience participation or potential conflict. Facilitating a productive conversation is a chance to give employees a live example of the goals and organizational culture HR managers are trying to foster. This can show the organization’s dedication to their representation and safety in the work environment through action rather than carefully worded promises.

Example Agenda for a DEI Training Day

Set The Tone: Leadership Introduction and Keynote Speaker

The first component of any DEI training event, no matter how formal or informal, should be an introduction of the day’s events, objectives, and talking points from organizational leadership. Leadership should be a part of the planning process and as involved as anyone else. Their involvement speaks to their dedication and shows employees they care. After the top organizational leaders have spoken, a relevant keynote speaker should give a speech. Next, the lead facilitator should restate the day’s events and the purpose and definition of DEI training.

Hold Small Group Discussions

Small group discussions should include talking points geared toward understanding each other’s life experiences. Listening through an accepting and inclusive lens is paramount to the success of any DEI training plan. Facilitators can ask questions such as, “Would anyone like to share a time when a co-worker thought they were giving you a compliment, but it was offensive?” or “Have you ever been discriminated against in the workplace?” Have pre-planned talking points and beta test them in the planning process. This will aid in the success of DEI training, ensure every member feels included and demonstrates sound DEI principles in real-time.

Accept Feedback

After the training day, facilitators should seek feedback from all participants in real-time. There is no better time to gauge the effectiveness or attitudes of employees than right after the event. Additionally, seeking feedback tells employees that the organization cares about diverse opinions, wants to promote an inclusive environment, and is dedicated to equity by promoting the individuals who articulate their perspectives.

Closing Remarks and Anonymous Feedback

After leadership and facilitators have gathered feedback, leaders should offer a method for employees to submit anonymous feedback. Educate employees about existing policies or new ones to be developed and give an overview of how the anonymous feedback process works.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About DEI Training

A proper DEI training plan will ensure that organizations can recruit, retain and engage employees of all identities within the organization from top to bottom.
Yes, all workplaces should hold DEI training. Even workplaces that do not have a large variety of demographics could add a member to their team or need to seek outside counsel from someone very different than themselves. Having the proper training ensures employees will not succumb to the common pitfalls that can limit opportunities and hurt small businesses and startups. A proper DEI training plan enables employees to work well with customers of all demographics and portrays a positive and inclusive environment for consumers.
DEI training should take place bi-annually. This frequency can accurately show growth or lack thereof and provide organizational leadership an opportunity to update employees on plans they have concerning DEI. Additionally, microlearning modules can be developed by the organization’s training team using available tools or by reaching out to outside organizations. Once these products are developed, organizations can implement them year-round as they see fit with training such as sexual assault or issues related to employee evaluations or recognition. Lastly, ensure training event objectives and key points are available to all employees with a make-up event available for anyone who missed the initial training.
Robert Clemons
Robert Clemons

Robert is a Human Resource Manager with a background in Training and Development. His work for nonprofit organizations is a true passion and he is constantly seeking knowledge to fulfill his dream of creating more diverse and inclusive workspaces around the globe.

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