Taking the Lead in Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

July 1, 2020
LRN Corporation

The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired businesses to take a hard look at their diversity and inclusion initiatives to identify gaps and build stronger, more ethical workplaces. Yet many compliance teams are challenged with how to address the issue effectively and make it part of their company’s DNA.

While celebrating diversity should be the goal of every organization, getting there requires everyone at the company to be on the same page – and not just at the higher levels. As leaders that implement training on diversity and inclusion, compliance teams have a unique responsibility to develop the skills that unite the workforce in championing the cause.

Here’s how compliance and learning teams are successfully guiding and supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives, helping employees acquire new skills, and creating more ethical company cultures as a result.

Cultivate Soft Skills

In 2018, LinkedIn released survey results showing soft skills as the number one priority for talent developers, executives, and people managers. Yet teaching the soft skills that help employees develop the emotional intelligence that leads to long-term behavioral changes can be challenging. One way learning teams have found success in helping employees learn these soft skills is by taking a hybrid approach to ethics and compliance training.

With hybrid learning, compliance and learning teams can educate employees on key diversity and inclusion topics, then reinforce these learnings by having employees hone these skills using real-world scenarios during training. Compared to traditional classroom learning, which often emphasizes knowledge over practice, hybrid learning asks employees to use their knowledge in everyday situations, thereby strengthening their empathy, understanding, and ultimately their behavior.

In today’s climate, it’s not enough to simply educate employees. If companies are to evolve, employee behavior must improve – and teaching soft skills is one of the most effective ways to not only identify discrimination in the workplace and prevent it from happening, but also to remove the unconscious or implicit biases that keep teams from being truly integrated and inclusive.

To see what hybrid learning looks like in action and how Interactive Services is leading the charge in helping businesses implement smarter, stronger approaches to creating ethical company cultures, explore the comprehensive Workplace Diversity Training Course we recently launched.

Educate, but also Listen

One of the primary goals of compliance teams is to make training more engaging for employees. Yet this can sometimes take a backseat in the pursuit of organizational goals, and the assurance that training principles are taught, and benchmarks are being met. But as most learning teams discover, knowledge retention and engagement go hand in hand.

In a study by Deloitte, the company discovered a unique connection between engagement and listening to employees, and how it impacted businesses. Here are some of their findings:

  • US businesses lose $300 billion annually in productivity due to disengaged workers
  • Employees are 57% more effective at organizations with engaged workers
  • Organizations with highly engaged employees grow 2.3 times more than the average over 3 years

What’s more interesting is how well companies are doing at implementing meaningful diversity and inclusion initiatives and how employees view this lack of engagement:

  • Only 11% of companies were considered to have a highly inclusive culture by employees
  • 1 in 4 Millennials rated fair treatment/loyalty/employee satisfaction as the number one value supporting a company’s long-term success

When compliance teams take active steps to listen to employees needs and concerns – especially around such topics as diversity and inclusion – and adjust training based on these outcomes, they can:

  • Build trust and affinity between employees and their managers
  • Help CCOs create more employee-centric training programs
  • Assist in developing skills that are important and unique to an organization, culture, and team

Employees who feel heard create opportunities for compliance teams to boost engagement and satisfaction – not just in training, but across every aspect of an organization.

Take the Right Actions

Organizational changes are happening at a breakneck pace in response to the growing Black Lives Matter movement, COVID-19, and other major events taking place around the world. In this type of environment, compliance teams are tasked with tremendous challenges: finding the best approach to educate employees effectively and ensuring these programs are built for long-term impact once they are implemented.

If we want employees to do the right thing as conversations on diversity and inclusion arise in their day-to-day experiences, we need to deliver the right kind of training to support them. While a seminar or workshop might spur an employee – or a whole company – into critical thinking, it won’t necessarily lead to a more diverse workforce, or help build a stronger, more ethical culture.

For good thinking and behavior to stick, and for companies to evolve towards better hiring and promotion practices, companies must address the problem head-on by implementing training and policies that continue long after the call for change fades. Here are a few things that can help:

Educate and Empower Management

Buy-in that happens at the top is then passed on to the rest of the business. Start every diversity and inclusion initiative by training management first, so they can communicate their insights and the need for this type of training to their teams more effectively.

Evaluate Your Policies

It’s not enough anymore to simply follow EEOC guidelines in developing or adjusting workplace policies. Companies need to make a more proactive effort to reach out to and promote qualified candidates of different groups, cultures, and beliefs – and make it a bigger part of their overall business strategy by putting these actions into writing.

Create an Employee-Led Task Force

Management may have the biggest influence in ensuring policies are implemented, but these policies won’t be adopted if they aren’t meaningful to employees. By creating a small task force of people with direct lines to upper management and whose purpose is to develop a richer, more inclusive culture, organizations can have confidence that changes will achieve broader acceptance.

Interactive Services offers a series of award-winning training solutions specially designed to help businesses create more diverse, inclusive, and ethical cultures. In addition to our training modules on Anti-Harassment & Workplace Harassment and Respect in the Workplace, we’ve launched a new, in-depth learning solution on Workplace Diversity, which covers key topics being discussed in businesses today. Discover how we can help your company make the leap to a better and more sustainable culture with our free 7-day trial!

About the Author

LRN Corporation

Ethics and compliance leader providing tools, education, and advisory services for global companies to inspire principled performance. LRN’s overall approach recognizes the inherent limitations of rules and regulations in influencing behaviors. In our view, focusing on actions that help build and maintain a values-based culture will mean more compliance and reduced costs as a result of tangible and sustainable behavioral change.

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