How to Grow Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Your Workplace

Today we’re sharing a guest post from Amanda Hurlbutt to assist you with creating more successful diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at your company.

Say goodbye to the days of stale, compulsory HR presentations on diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace – a new era of D&I training has arrived. Companies are shifting their focus away from Powerpoints and lectures towards D&I programming that supports innovation and fosters a culture of inclusion, and it’s paying off in spades. According to the 2019 U.S. L&D Report, companies that have seen growth over the past year are 72% more likely to have high diversity in their organizations, as opposed to companies that haven’t seen any growth.

Read on for more insights into how companies leading the charge in D&I are implementing meaningful, business-driving programs in their organizations.

Make D&I part of everyday life.

Integrating D&I into employees’ day-to-day activities can contribute to a culture that embraces diversity in a genuine way. For BCG Digital Ventures (BCGDV), formal D&I training is only one piece of the puzzle. Max Avruch, Learning & Development Specialist at BCGDV, states that the company has frequent lunch-and-learn programs, open forums for discussion between employees, and other organizational initiatives where D&I takes center stage – literally.

BCG DV recently celebrated LGBTQ Pride Month by posting Kinsey scales inside restroom stalls, inviting employees to anonymously mark their position on the scale. Avruch explains, “It was a way for us to show diversity on our walls and to show people there is a spectrum around orientation.”

Companies like BCGDV recognize that even small D&I initiatives make a big difference, and by infusing D&I into the workday, they’re strengthening teams and ensuring that issues surrounding D&I stay salient across all levels of the organization.

Get proactive about building diverse teams.

Companies that prioritize D&I aren’t just “doing the right thing” – they’re also harnessing a serious competitive advantage. Having diverse voices in the boardroom is advantageous when you’re making critical business decisions, and for Ernst & Young (EY), increasing diversity within their teams has led to more creative, higher quality work. Martin Hayter, Global Assurance Learning Leader for EY, also notes that forming diverse teams with a “global flavor” comes with the added bonus of producing content that’s applicable in a variety of cultures and markets.

It’s clear that diverse teams can yield real results. However, if you’re intent on building a diverse, innovative workforce, you need to be proactive. At Merck, they’ve taken the route of being “consciously inclusive” throughout the recruitment process. To promote D&I in their hiring practices, Merck equips senior leaders and hiring managers with Unconscious Bias Toolkits, which contain simple, effective training resources they can refer back to as needed, whether they’re in the midst of a hiring decision or going about their usual workday.

Break away from the status quo.

Even though innovation arises from risk-taking and experimentation, when it comes to D&I training, it’s not uncommon for companies to get stuck in a rut. In fact, according to the 2019 U.K. L&D Report, only 8% of companies consider diversity a top training priority. Since there are so many new technologies and delivery methods available nowadays, it’s time to branch out and shake up your established D&I training protocol with a fresh approach.

Virtual reality (VR) is one high-tech delivery method that’s taken off in recent years. Once confined to the world of science fiction, VR is currently used by major companies, such as jetBlue and the NFL, to teach empathy and complement existing D&I programs. Unlike conventional D&I training, VR brings teachable moments to life, and provides the opportunity for end-to-end practice in a safe space. With the magic of VR, employees can transport themselves an alternate reality and experience what it’s really like to walk in a colleague’s shoes, which is nearly impossible to capture through traditional role play.

Well-rounded, purposeful, and forward-looking D&I programs are the gateway to more inclusive cultures and innovative businesses. No matter how big or small your company may be, it’s never too early to set a D&I training strategy into motion.

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