Businesses should build programs that make legal protection a secondary aim and put much of the focus on the development of inclusive workplace culture.
In recent years, businesses have attempted to diversify their workforces. To help employees handle this shift and avoid possible legal entanglements, most organizations offer diversity training. Unfortunately, few of these training models work, the Harvard Business Review reported. In many cases, lawsuits continue to crop up and recently hired employees still have trouble fitting into their new surroundings.
In 2002, researchers from Harvard University analyzed more than 30 years of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data for over 800 companies with diversity training programs and discovered that such initiatives held few quantifiable benefits.
Finding a good reason
Most faulty diversity training programs feature the same structural and philosophical flaws, FastCompany reported. For many organizations, dodging lawsuits is the primary objective behind internal diversity policy. As a result, related training is often mandatory. According to experts, this compulsory approach undermines organizational goals and gives participants reason to disengage.
“If you force someone to go to something, they don’t have to try to make their beliefs and actions line up,” Frank Dobbin, Ph.D., the Harvard sociologist behind the 2002 study, told FastCompany. “In fact, you can think, ‘I’m only here because they forced me to do this.'”
Additionally, training programs that have a purely legal bent are often aimed at managers. This too is problematic, as the managerial focus betrays the superficial motives behind such initiatives.
Businesses should instead build programs that make legal protection a secondary aim and put much of their focus on the development of inclusive workplace culture. This means putting aside obligatory sessions and leadership-focused curricula.
Of course, training isn’t the only option when it comes to facilitating a diverse organizational environment. Savvy employers supplement training with other diversity initiatives, Forbes reported. Implementing policies to shield members of protected classes is often the first step. Companies must then enable employees in such groups to form internal support organizations. For instance, AT&T sponsors LEAGUE, an internal body for its 4,800 LGTBQ employees.
“These groups are a way to ensure we are engaging our employees in the company, we look at them as a way to make the company smaller for individuals so they can really connect and engage with each other,” Belinda Grant-Anderson, the company’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, told Forbes.
Experts also advise organizations to draft non-discrimination statements that not only address boilerplate legal concerns, but also catch the eyes of prospective employees. These simple strategies, combined with effective diversity training, lead to inclusive office spaces filled with staff from varied backgrounds.
Are you prepared to make key changes to your current diversity training initiative? MasteryTCN can help! We offer a wide range of video-based e-learning courses on the subject of diversity and inclusion. Contact us here, if you are looking for training for your organization.