L&D's Role in Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace might mean slightly different things to different departments, however, on a fundamental level it’s about cultivating a working environment that includes a variety of people from varying backgrounds who bring to the table a diverse range of ideas and perspectives.

When diversity and inclusion are implemented successfully, they create a workplace where employees feel valued, respected, and encouraged to be themselves. This enables them to feel motivated and to put their best foot forward for the business each day.

In particular, learning and development teams play a large part in implementing the right strategies to champion diversity and inclusion at work, and below we go into detail about what that role includes.


L&D's Starring Role

A one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work when it comes to training and developing a truly diverse workforce as individual employees won’t necessarily have the same needs as their colleagues to progress their professional development. 

Consequently, it’s L&D's job to incorporate diversity and inclusion at the core of their talent development strategies. If this doesn’t happen, studies show that there’s a much higher chance that the positive effects of on-the-job training - and diversity training, more specifically - won’t last beyond a day or two.

Employees can be taught what to do, how to do it, and what practices and processes enable diversity and inclusion, however, if those skills and knowledge aren’t reinforced and engrained in the foundation of an organisation’s day to day processes, employers risk higher levels of unconscious bias.

However, a few practices L&D professionals can use to combat any negative backlash include:

Selecting the right instructor

Every employee has varying beliefs and values. To this end, it’s important that L&D leaders hire the right instructors to facilitate onboarding and training content.
This means employing L&D professionals who know how to approach and challenge individuals and their beliefs - both conscious and unconscious - while remaining empathetic to their perspectives.

Considering the learning environment

Employees should feel comfortable when attending training sessions, whether it be for onboarding, upskilling, or reskilling. For many employees, what makes them most comfortable is having the flexibility to access their training materials at their leisure - especially if they’re working remotely or on a hybrid working schedule.

This is where attention to a hybrid learning environment is imperative. Organisations that are embracing remote and flexible work, for example, need to be on top of their game by ensuring their employees and L&D teams have access to the most up-to-date tools and technology.

This will help keep learning inclusive and accessible - from anywhere.

Keeping content accessible & current

The trick to L&D keeping organisations on top of their diversity and inclusion strategy is delivering current and relevant content that can be applied directly to their daily roles.

Additionally, the content should be presented in a way that reflects and responds to events - both past and present - in ways that are both positive and constructive.

It’s also important that the content and images accurately represent the organisation and its goals, values, and objectives so that there’s no confusion for anyone involved. This will help keep employees engaged and avoids wasting anyone’s time.

What’s more, training should also be highly interactive, giving employees the chance to bounce thoughts and ideas off one another so that L&D can listen, learn, and stay proactive - and effective - in facilitating the best training they can.

We’d also like to add that it’s a good idea that all content be made more accessible to employees in their first languages if need be. This ensures that every employee is on the same page (no pun intended).

make it stick

Making It All Stick 

Training and development that encourages an inclusive working environment are great, however, as mentioned, it can be difficult to make a few days or a week of new knowledge and skills stick for the long term.

That’s why continuous learning is imperative for L&D teams to remain inclusive and diverse, otherwise, employee engagement is likely to stagnate and organisations are less likely to stay ahead of the curve and keep up with the momentum of talent management in the new world of work post-pandemic.

To learn more about how to enhance your organisations L&D strategies, enrol on one of our 100% online CIPD L&D programmes today.

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