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In-house diversity training: What do organisations need to consider?

At present there are no specific regulations or diversity training standards within the UK, this means the levels of diversity training provided can, and will significantly vary. As all organisations have differing diversity needs, require different skills, information, and methods of implementation, there are an array of variables that can impact an organisation. If you are planning on developing your own diversity training resources, below are some areas of importance to consider:

What are the current issues?

Addressing current internal and external organisational diversity issues may be key for your training, these issues may considerably influence the diversity management within your organisation. Identifying current issues can also provide scope for planning the type of resources needed. Generic topic areas such as compliance and legislation often add value to diversity training, but adding relevant topic areas impacting employees in the present are likely to provide a longer lasting impact.

What are other organisations doing?

It can be a good idea to ‘keep an eye’ on organisations both inside and outside of your industry keep track of your external environment. Where diversity training is concerned, it may be a good idea to find out if other organisations similar to yours (this could be industry, sector, or size) have carried out diversity training; who has delivered the training for them, and; how the training was implemented. It could save you lots of energy, time, and resources. There is no point trying to ‘reinvent the wheel’.

The diversity dimensions of staff

It can be important to understand the diversity dimensions of employees within your organisation. Diversity training is often considered when there is some form of critical incident, whether inside or outside of the organisation. Prevention is often better than cure, so if you are unaware of the demographics of employees within your organisation, you may need to find out. This could potentially alleviate diversity issues in the future. Diversity training facilitators should be aware of their audiences to ensure the greatest impact is delivered.

The organisational level of attendees

Research has highlighted that in order to make the greatest impact on diversity training, it vital for managers to participate in diversity training, the more senior the manager the better. Managers can have a large influence on the diversity of an organisation, and with the right leadership skills can help to create a culture comfortable and accommodating to all.

The method of delivery

I feel this is an area often overlooked when diversity training is considered. There have been many research projects trying to discover the most effective method of diversity training for employees. Face-to-face training is often most beneficial for organisations as it allows participants to ask the facilitator questions and initiate conversation with colleagues, but this isn’t always the most cost effective method of delivery. Organisations often opt for e-learning over face-to-face training as it can be designed internally, cover an untold number of staff, and guide participants into a direction that does not initiate uncomfortable conversations. Diversity training not carried out face-to-face could require more resources in the future to provide clarity on unresolved issues.

What happens after the training is complete?

Diversity training should be part of the plan, and not the whole plan in diversity management. If delivered in isolation, employees may feel the training is delivered as a ‘tick box’ exercise or used as an internal insurance policy for organisations. Diversity training may leave unanswered questions, therefore there may need to be additional resources allocated. Diversity promotion being part of an operational strategy is a great way of showing an organisation is serious about nurturing an organisation’s diversity.

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