1. Get the right people in the room
It’s a common misconception that equality, inclusion and diversity is solely an HR issue – it’s not! It’s important to actively communicate to all staff and volunteers that commitment to inclusion and diversity is central to organisational strategy, and that every individual has a role to play.
2. Don’t jump the gun
Assess carefully what the issue really is and what type of training may be required and crucially where you are in your journey. Inclusion and diversity training may not be the first port of call. Allocate time to finding out what you want to happen, what end result you want to see and only then go about finding the solution. A carefully curated, multi-stage training process is probably best suited because different audiences require a different training focus.
3. Be prepared to go all in – inclusion and diversity training shouldn’t be a tick-box exercise
Be careful that you’re not just getting caught up in a trend – this may only perpetuate the notion of style without substance. Do your research but go deeper than legislation. Don’t get me wrong, you want to follow the law, but beware of just investing in something you can read out of a book, like the Equality Act 2010. The focus should be on understanding individuals, not regurgitating definitions of legal jargon. Training materials work best when you utilise tangible examples, so get people thinking about real scenarios and finding solutions in real time. Remember to keep asking yourself: what is the goal here?
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4. Stand-alone Inclusion and diversity training won’t work, it must have strategic context
The danger of jumping in without thinking about context is that nothing really changes. Strategic context is crucial to any effective training. Training without a plan for implementation often fails. Even the most profound training content runs the risk of becoming a redundant, tick-box exercise unless there is equal emphasis on actionable deliverables as on the content. For example, unconscious bias training out of context often fails, and can even have a negative impact on your workforce. Within context, however, it can result in improved decision-making and better communication organisation wide.
5. Pro-actively engage your entire workforce
Active engagement with your workforce is vital. Listen to people within the organisation to find out what’s missing, then go about finding a solution to fit. Engage, support and empower your workforce to be involved in the solution and meaningfully contribute to inclusive growth. Training should drive the message about whole organisation improvement. You want to encourage people to actively and positively respond.
6. Be transparent, specific and accountable
Transparency is just a fancy way of saying ‘be open and honest’. Tell your workforce your intentions and why this training is so important. Again, context is key. When anyone hears the words ‘mandatory training’ I bet they roll their eyes. Actively communicate the reasons behind why each individual needs to be part of the solution. Eyes also start to roll when there are no concrete actionable training goals. Communicate the potential cultural, unifying benefits. Accountability and commitment from directorial, board and managerial levels is vital. Your workforce will be more invested if you are too. Actively demonstrate commitment by providing the strategic rationale behind training. Everyone must commit to training to have the desired impact. Accountability from all angles is required: top-down, bottom-up and side to side.
In order to implement useful change, there must be a strategy to translate words into actions. Don’t just pay lip service. Consider seeking specialist support, especially if you don’t know where to start.
About Sarah Burrell
Sarah Burrell is an inclusion consultant providing bespoke training and strategic consultancy. She consults on all areas of strategy and provides specialist training on disability, mental health and unconscious bias. Sarah also runs inclusive events, encouraging discussion around mental health, wellbeing and wider inclusion topics. All of her services are accessible online.