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Four steps to better diversity, inclusion and equality training


Equality training is about understanding the impact our assumptions and behaviour have on ourselves and on others in the workplace, says Mui Li. Here she offers four steps to improve equality and diversity training.

To ignore the ever-growing need for companies to have a strong culture of equality and inclusion would be impossible. Nearly every day, newspapers carry damning stories of discrimination and the huge pay outs that come as a consequence of individuals not having a clear understanding of how to be inclusive and equal in modern society.

As this need for understanding grows, so too inevitably will the need for equality-specific training within business, and while once this was a dusty brochure full of information that people paid little attention to, let alone read, today training can actually change the way people think and behave at work – this can generate cultural shifts.

"An effective diversity and equality trainer and coach will also move participants through the learning cycle."

This is the only way to avoid some of the large-scale horrors that will no doubt be found in the national news today, tomorrow, and the day after that. But, if a company is to get the most from diversity, inclusion and equality training, which effectively translates into earning a return on investment, it is business critical to select the trainer and coach that has a good understanding of the four features below.

Even more importantly, perhaps, they will prevent the aftermath of both witting and unwitting discrimination. Here are four boxes that all companies should tick before moving along down the path to business-wide equality through effective training.

  1. Build upon the existing good practices within the firm: it is vital that the equality training expert focuses attention on creating a safe and secure learning environment for staff, and looks to build on the existing practices within the business. There will almost certainly be some elements of good practice, and it is important to build this into all training and performance management.
  2. Explore the unconscious cultural incompetence, including the use of banter and inappropriate comments or conversations: there are likely to be many areas of diversity and inclusion that employees will be unaware of, and effective equality training and coaching will look to identify the lesser known factors that could be seen as discriminatory in the 2011 workplace.
  3. Look at all forms of discrimination: crucially, a trainer needs to identify assumptions about accent, age, class, culture, civil partnership or marriage, disability, ethnicity, gender reassignment, maternity, name, pregnancy, religion and belief, socio-economics, skin colour, sex, or sexual orientation (bisexual, gay, heterosexual, or lesbian). The list could go on. More than just training to let people know policies and procedures, and their legislative  responsibilities, today's equality training is about understanding how the impact our assumptions and behaviour have on ourselves and on others in the workplace, and this needs to be a focus for the training.
  4. The learning cycle to their conscious competence and ultimately the unconscious competence: an effective diversity and equality trainer and coach will also move participants through the learning cycle, to ensure that they actually understand, sustain and enjoy the experience, and can take back the information collected to use in their everyday lives. High quality trainers and coaches will map out the cycle for employers to see before the training takes place, to ensure the highest levels of engagement with delegates.

A shared understanding of diversity, inclusion and equality is a major predictor of a business's success, because, when companies get it right, they earn increased profits and motivated employees.

Mui Li is the equality and inclusion expert at Muika Leadership, and you can watch her latest video on cultural competence at the workplace by clicking here.


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