How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace through hiring and training

Many senior-level leaders have recently expressed the desire to invest more of their resources and budget into diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). It's encouraging to see so many organizations prioritizing DEI in their operations, but the question now is whether these programs will actually drive change. While a growing number of leaders recognize the importance of diversity training in the workplace, many don't know exactly how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace with DEI training.

In uncovering how DEI impacts the workplace, talent acquisition suite Lever published the 2022 DEI Throughout the Employee Lifecycle report. This report looked at 1,000 employees along with 500 employers in the US, revealing how DEI affects the entire employee lifecycle, spanning from initial hiring to long-term employment. These insights can help piece together how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace more effectively.

With 98% of CEOs preparing to cut costs in anticipation of an impending recession in the US, the following reasons are why companies can't afford to pull back on DEI initiatives. 

Candidates are hiding their true selves to avoid workplace bias 

According to the Lever report, companies still have a lot to learn regarding how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The report found that 50% of job candidates feel their race, gender, or ethnicity has limited their ability to secure a job. Black and Asian candidates were the most likely to feel this way, with both groups comprising 59% of candidates.

As a result of these fears, candidates are attempting to avoid bias during the hiring process by proactively concealing various external qualities. For example: 

  • 50% of people are removing their profile picture from LinkedIn 
  • 47% are covering piercings or tattoos 
  • 44% hide a physical disability 
  • 44% speak with an accent different from their original 
  • 42% wear a hairstyle that isn't natural 

To fully realize the benefits of diversity and inclusion training and change these trends, it's not enough for companies to create positive work environments—they must also create a hiring process encouraging candidates to be their true selves from application to onboarding. It's crucial for organizations to commit to DEI starting with the early phases of hiring and continuing with employment practices. 

Employers are conducting token diversity interviews 

Another issue the report uncovered with DEI training is the fact that companies aren't taking diversity as seriously as they should; they perceive it as another tick to mark off. According to the Lever’s research, two-thirds of employers (66%) have stated that they've interviewed candidates solely to help meet diversity quotas. 

This fact hasn't gone over employees' heads, either. The vast majority of employees surveyed (62%) reported feeling that employers interviewed them simply to meet a diversity requirement. Specifically, Black (71%) and Hispanic (71%) employees were the most likely to feel that this occurred during the interview process. 

The report also revealed another issue affecting the interview stage: 44% of employees feel that organizations over-promoted them on company assets because of their gender, race, or ethnicity in an attempt to appear more diverse. Interestingly, another third of employees (32%) believe their companies are not as committed to diversity as they first appeared during interviews. 

Workplaces are facing issues with discrimination 

One of the main benefits of diversity and inclusion training when properly implemented is reduced discrimination, which is unfortunately still commonplace in workplaces. The findings in the Lever report concluded that DEI challenges go beyond hiring and into organizations' employment practices. In fact, 46% of employees today believe their company has allowed for some form of bias or discrimination in the workplace.  

Additionally, 40% or two out of every five employees have felt that their employers discriminated against them due to their gender, race, or ethnicity. Over half of these employees (51.5%) were Hispanic, making this group the most likely to feel discriminated against. 

Many organizations don't deny this, with a surprising 51% of employers admitting to having workplace discrimination issues. These stats alone stress the importance of diversity training in the workplace to eliminate discrimination. 

The importance of diversity training in the workplace 

To see a significant improvement in diversity, equity, and inclusion, organizations must practice transparency and comprehensiveness with their DEI strategies. In the process, organizations can put effective DEI training programs into place to demonstrate their devotion to creating a better work environment for everyone. 

LRN's 2023 Ethics & Compliance Program Effectiveness Report proves the benefits of diversity and inclusion training. The report determined that organizations benefited more from compliance programs proactively incorporating DEI training than those without this key component. In total, 43% of high-impact ethics and compliance programs reported either implementing a new DEI training program or strengthening an existing one, with added measures including enhanced courses and content combating racism. Meanwhile, only 34% of low-impact programs would incorporate this training. 

In short, having a complete DEI element in your corporate training programs can make all the difference. 

The key takeaway 

It's not enough to understand the importance of diversity training in the workplace—organizations need to change employees' behavior through effective corporate training programs. To ensure workplaces become increasingly compliant and allow for lasting change, business leaders will need to implement and consistently reinforce solid DEI strategies. Taking these steps will eliminate discrimination and tokenism throughout the hiring process and well into employment. 

If you want to experience the benefits of diversity and inclusion training, LRN can help you with an ongoing learning process. LRN’s three-year DEI curriculum promotes diversity and inclusion training and a wider communications strategy to ensure that the importance of an inclusive culture is discussed and celebrated throughout every stage of an employee's journey. Download LRN's three-year DEI curriculum for step-by-step guidance on integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout—and beyond—your corporate training.