Learning & Development

What Is Inclusion Training?

Inclusion training refers to training employees to better work with others of differing abilities, backgrounds, nationalities, genders, etc. It’s often referred to as diversity and inclusion training. It emphasizes being inclusive of all types of employees and explains the benefits of doing so. This can be in the form of training to increase awareness of unintentional biases, or it could be in the form of teaching skills to better interact with others who come from different backgrounds with differing perspectives. The overall goal is to have a workplace inclusive of all people.

Employers often implement inclusion training as a way to combat the risk of discrimination and harassment. It can have additional benefits of improving awareness, increasing workplace morale, and improving productivity.

Here are some of the topics that may be part of an inclusion training program:

  • Unconscious or implicit bias: what it is and how to combat it
  • Privilege
  • Communication skills
  • Cultural sensitivities and stereotyping
  • Value systems and how they may differ
  • Discrimination
  • Cultural identities and potential sources of conflict, along with cultural competency
  • Civility and sensitivity
  • How to be inclusive in work practices
  • Invisible disabilities
  • Antibullying or antiharassment (which may include training on applicable workplace policies)
  • Conflict management
  • Modeling inclusive behavior
  • Legal ramifications of not being inclusive

Any or all of these topics may be present. Note that these are just a sampling; your inclusion training may differ to suit your needs.

Tips for Implementing Inclusion Training

Having a diverse workplace is only one piece of the big picture. If your employees don’t work well with one another, you won’t reap the benefits that having diversity provides, and it won’t be sustainable. Here are some tips for implementing diversity and inclusion training:

  • Be careful to remain as positive as possible in the training. One major criticism of this type of training is that negativity can have the opposite of the intended effect.
  • Consider making the training voluntary so that participants don’t feel they’re only there because they have to be—they’re there because it’s beneficial. (Of course, there are pros and cons to this.)
  • Inclusion training should not be a one-off. It needs to be ongoing, with updates for all employees and reinforcement over time. It needs to become part of the overall organizational culture to be effective. Remember that your inclusion training may need to be modified over time to best suit the needs of the individuals taking it.
  • Be sure leadership is included in training efforts. Best practices need to be modeled from the top.
  • To further promote the idea of inclusivity, organizations could consider adding performance metrics for individuals that measure how inclusive their actions are. This may include things like ensuring fair and appropriate metrics for all subordinates or ensuring inclusive language is used throughout communications, for example.

Some organizations go further than training and metrics and have teams devoted to diversity and inclusivity. They may set organizational goals, as well.

Inclusion training can go a long way toward ensuring that all employees feel welcome and valued in an organization. It can help to make the workplace one that values everyone’s input and doesn’t inadvertently overlook people for promotions for the wrong reasons. Employees are more likely to have equal opportunities based on merit and create an environment that is less likely to be discriminatory. This doesn’t always happen without direct, intentional intervention, and inclusion training is one form of that.

While inclusion and even implicit bias training can go a long way to helping eliminate various kinds of bias at work, you can always do more. On November 15th at our HR Comply 2019 event in Nashville, TN, we are focusing on this important topic in our opening keynote titled “Recognizing, Responding to, and Eradicating Racism in the Workplace” given by expert Dr. Paulette Patterson Dilworth. Dr. Dilworth is the VP for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her keynote will contain useful information that goes beyond simple training. We hope you can join us.

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.

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