The diversity, equity and inclusion movement started as a reaction to injustice. But it really is a business imperative whose ultimate success depends on embedding the values of DE&I holistically across organizations, so everyone accepts differences between people as a strength that drives innovation, collaboration and evolution.
Research by Brandon Hall Group™ and other organizations shows that DE&I drives better business results. For example:
- Companies with a diversity focus are 2.6 times more successful at retaining their workforce.
- Inclusive teams prove to be 35% more productive.
But the fact is that most employers can’t prove that all the DE&I training and other initiatives they have launched over the past three years are having a positive impact on their organizations. Measurement of DE&I initiatives in general, including assessing the impact DE&I training has on culture change and the business, is not a core competency for most employers.
A 2023 study by Brandon Hall Group™, Improving the Business Impact of DE&I: Creating a Culture for Success, shows that:
- 35% of organizations do not measure the impact of DE&I training at all.
- Only 20% said they were good or excellent at measuring DE&I training effectiveness.
- 56% said measuring the impact of DE&I training is their highest priority for improvement.
DE&I training goes beyond equipping a workplace with an array of employees from diverse demographics. It aims to foster an environment of:
- Inclusive communication
- Cultural sensitivity
- Diverse problem-solving
- And unconscious inclusion rather than unconscious bias
This training crucially enables organizations to build a workplace culture free from discrimination, encouraging diversity, equitable treatment, inclusive decision-making and educational efforts to foster understanding.
However, DE&I training must be strategically designed to ensure effectiveness. It must:
- Address the needs and challenges unique to the organization
- Encourage practical applications of DE&I principles
- Incorporate engaging learning formats, emotional intelligence, and humanization to motivate learners and promote active participation
Let’s dig into the methods organizations can employ to create compelling DE&I training and measure its impact on the organization and the business.
6 Ways to Make DE&I Training Effective
DE&I training plays a pivotal role in building an inclusive environment in the workplace. However, organizations must strategically design DE&I training to guarantee effectiveness. The principles and values of DE&I must be embedded across the enterprise. Parameters that can help organizations improve the effectiveness of their DE&I training include:
- Understanding an organization’s culture. Organizations can support the integration of DE&I principles into policies, processes, recruitment, performance evaluations and decision-making. Training content should address the needs and challenges unique to the organization because understanding an organization’s culture creates transformation. Organizations should also encourage employees to apply the concepts they have learned in their everyday work.
- Utilizing practical approaches for inclusion. Organizations should use practical approaches for inclusion, such as combining in-person workshops, online modules, videos, podcasts and webinars, to ensure accessibility and engagement across the diverse workforce.
- Tying learning to the business. Leadership support is vital not only to support the training but also to lead by example. Getting senior leadership to demonstrate their commitment to DE&I can send a powerful message and encourage employees to take DE&I seriously.
- Using engaging learning formats. Interactive videos, simulations, gamification, microlearning, case studies, group discussions, role-playing and experiential exercises are better options than presentations and courses to engage participants and encourage active learning.
- Embracing emotional intelligence in design learning. This is especially useful in today’s high-stress work environment. Focusing on empathy, emotions, and self-awareness not only helps connect meaningfully with the learners but also creates a healthier, happier and more productive workplace.
- Humanizing the learning. When employees are provided with a safe space for open dialogue, questions and discussions, they can better share their perspectives and experiences without fear of judgment or reprisal. Therefore, for DE&I training, the focus should be to create an atmosphere that makes everyone comfortable.
Measuring the Impact of Your DE&I Training
After you build training programs designed to be effective, you must assess whether you have attained your goals. While many organizations still struggle with measuring impact, Brandon Hall Group™ research shows that high-performing organizations leverage these processes and get strong results:
- Learner feedback. Organizations must regularly seek learner feedback and employ insights to fill in any gaps and inform future training initiatives. This ensures continuous improvement in addressing the needs of learners. There are certain types of feedback that organizations can seek from their learners. These include:
- Pre- and post-learning surveys. Pre- and post-learning surveys help assess the impact of the training and measure the changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. The comparison of responses from the pre- and post-learning surveys allows organizations to evaluate the effectiveness of the training program and identify areas of improvement.
- Individual interviews. These help gain personalized and detailed insights from the participants.
- Focus groups. Focus groups foster group dynamics and can stimulate conversation, encourage participants to build upon each other’s ideas and uncover a range of perspectives and experiences which lead to more nuanced and holistic feedback.
- Cultural assessments. These assessments help you understand cultural norms and values, facilitate dialogue and collaboration and enhance cultural competence, which helps inform decision-making and track progress.
- Cumulative Results. The compilation of the data from the various forms of feedback can provide insights into the learners’ perceptions such as whether:
- They have the same access to development and career opportunities
- More training is required
- Training is effective in resolving any discrimination in the organization.
- Data Analysis: Analyze the data collected to determine if learners can develop the expected knowledge and if they feel more comfortable approaching workplace diversity after the training. This takes time. However, because DE&I is all about transformation of cultural and individual growth in an organization, it is essential to create an evaluation process that can measure the efficacy of the learning.
Measuring the impact of an organization’s DE&I initiatives will provide strategic insights for short- and long-term outcomes. Collecting and analyzing feedback helps organizations identify the strengths and weaknesses in their DEI training programs and make necessary adjustments.
By taking the time to measure diversity training effectiveness, organizations can enable a continuous improvement cycle that ensures that training initiatives evolve and remain relevant over time. The best results come from continually making improvements — from the leadership down.
Key Takeaways: A Continuous, Systematic Approach
- The workforce — already more diverse than ever before — will become even more diverse in the years ahead. A systematic and continuous approach to DE&I can translate into positive change, creating a workplace culture where employees from different backgrounds, cultures, and personalities can establish a strong sense of belonging.
- DE&I training is the foundation for embedding the concepts, principles and values of diversity, equity and inclusion across the enterprise. By adopting a policy-driven and leadership-backed DE&I training strategy, organizations can build a more engaged, productive and harmonious workforce.
- To ensure that DE&I training meets its objectives, organizations must evaluate its effectiveness through continuous feedback, analysis, and improvements.
- With DE&I training and its accurate measurement, organizations can harness the unique strengths and perspectives of their diverse workforce, translating it into a significant competitive edge.