Let’s be honest. Diversity training is usually a check in the box to meet compliance obligations. Think about it. Has diversity training in your organization evolved? Are you using a 5 year old PowerPoint? Research shows that organizations with robust diversity training programs are innovative and engaged. Here are five ideas on differentiating your diversity training.

Diversity Ted Talk Speaker Series

Today’s pertinent issues in diversity touch on sensitive topics in our society including racial injustice, generational disparities, hiring individuals with disabilities, and rights for LGBT employees. Because of this, it is incredibly difficult for a Human Resources, Training or Diversity function to find subject matter experts that can authentically speak to employees regarding these issues.

Companies large and small can incorporate Ted Talks into their diversity training.

A groundbreaking example was the State Street Corporation holding a viewing party in a training room to watch their co-worker, Morgana Bailey give a Ted Talk about coming out. At first, Bailey was hesitant, wondering “Are they going to be okay with this? Will they treat me differently?” As it turns out, she did not  have to be worried. “People in my office have all been supportive,” she said. “I’ve gotten so many emails that say, ‘You’re a wonderful person,’ or ‘We accept you no matter what.’ I just got one a few minutes ago from someone telling me that they now have more ways to talk about why gay people should have equal rights.’ It’s moments like this that make Bailey glad she went through with the party.

Using Ted Talks in diversity training is also scalable. For large organizations such as State Street, an actual Ted Institute event can be hosted with one of the speakers addressing a key issue in diversity. On a smaller scale, viewing the video during a lunch and learn can also have a similar impact by giving attendees an authentic perspective.

Be a Diversity Think Tank

According to Merriam-Webster, a think tank is defined as an organization that consists of a group of people who think of new ideas on a particular subject or who give advice about what should be doneDiversity training within your organization should always include time for employees to share new ideas on the issue or topic being presentedIn a DiversityInc; focus group interview, an executive stated

“What never works is a boring person with a PowerPoint presentation talking down to people while they doze off.”

Employee ideas developed through these think tanks often lead to unique diversity programs, policies, reports and initiatives for the organization.

Companies are also starting to publicly showcase their best practices.

Johnson & Johnson Diversity and Inclusion Programs & Activities
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Report on Employee Resource Groups
Northrup Grumman Women’s Conference

Use Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups are employee-led groups formed around common interests, issues and/or a common bond or background.

With the onset of an increasingly diverse workforce, employers should look to their employees as a resource to conduct diversity training. Northrop Grumman approached their employee resource groups for individuals with disabilities and LGBT employees to conduct lunch and learns for their organization. “They volunteer and we put them through a mini train-the-trainer course,” said Dan Ellerman, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Northrup Grumman.

Vetting training programs through these resource groups can also add to the relevance and credibility of the content. According to Linda Leonard, Associate Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Bristol-Myers Squibb, “people have to have a personal connection and a very personal experience.”

Smaller organizations that do not have employee resource groups, can implement this initiative through engaging volunteers that may want to participate.

Be Social

Diversity training and initiatives can be enhanced through social media campaigns.

Most recently, the federal government launched the #ItsOnUs campaign to end sexual assault on college campuses. The campaign included short awareness videos on YouTube and a website with tools and resources on dealing with sexual assault on campus. In this campaign, social media provided a unique platform to showcase a difficult topic to discuss.

Organizations can use this same model to enact internal campaigns for diversity training. An example would be the use of an internal intranet to share awareness videos on a certain topic and the use of a hashtag to highlight the theme of the training. The same hashtag can be used for a certain series of training to garner excitement and purpose around the initiative.

The ItsOnUs Campaign has been adopted by hundreds of public and private organizations as a platform for awareness and training programs.

Use Technology

We are changing to a more dynamic and mobile workforce.

According to Fortune magazine, remote work continues to trend upward, with a 26 percent increase in open remote job postings from 2013 to 2014. Moreover, 83 percent of hiring managers say telecommuting will be “more prevalent in the next five years.” Accordingly, diversity training programs must also be able to evolve to accommodate.

Organizations should incorporate the use of web conferencing platforms such as Adobe Connect, Cisco WebEx, or GoTo Meeting just to name a few. These programs maximize the use of advanced sharing tools, chat features, screen sharing and virtual classrooms. A best practice is to incorporate programs such as Adobe Connect and GoTo Meeting that include advanced sharing tools, chat features, screen sharing, and virtual classrooms. To enhance impact, live trainings via web conferencing should also be utilized instead of pre-recorded webinarsThe creation of a virtual environment with live interaction is critical for an engaging experience.

Another critical skill for Human Resources, Training and Diversity professionals will be online teaching and learning. In many organizations, the solution to most problems is usually training, more training and additional training. While training is a key component of any organization, it is critical to specifically understand the goals and purpose of your diversity training initiatives.

Most importantly, diversify your approach.

What are some of your ideas to enhance and differentiate diversity training?

Posted by Daniel Nicolas

Daniel is an HR knowledge seeker with a passion for community. I've had a pretty cool journey. Proud Seminole, Member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Tennis Player, Haitian-American and soon-to-be husband.

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