Why is Workplace Diversity Training so Important?
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a major obstacle for most companies in the IT sector. The tech industry has seen significant growth in terms of the number of people working in the industry, however we are yet to see a striking difference in terms of gender diversity.
Diversity training has become an important step in achieving a more balanced workforce when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Training helps employees become more aware of unconscious bias and other barriers to diversity and inclusion. It is designed to motivate positive behaviors and attitudes essential for creating and maintaining a respectful, inclusive workplace.
Diversity in the workplace is when companies employ individuals with a wide range of characteristics like gender, age, religion, race, culture, and backgrounds. Some of the biggest diversity issues in the workplace are acceptance, respect, language, communications, and gender equality.
From our research using LinkedIn, on gender inequality in the IT market in Ireland, we have seen that there are over 71,000 tech professionals working in the tech industry currently, with 34% being women and 66% being male.
A gender diverse workforce is essential as these teams have proven to show better performance than single-gender teams. Men and women have different viewpoints, idea’s, and market insights and combining both could greatly contribute to the success of the business.
Companies need to be proactive about encouraging diversity in their own workplaces and this starts with training on the topic.
Importance of diversity training in a workplace:
Diversity training is important to have in the workplace and should involve all levels of the workforce for it to be impactful. It is not just up to managers to make sure that employees feel safe and accepted at work. Each employee is responsible for ensuring that every person in their organisation is treated with respect.
It improves equality and creates a more welcoming environment for every individual, which in the long run will improve the company's reputation. It can take your company culture and your business to a whole new level.
Developing training programs
Training programmes are a great way to help create a better understanding of diversity within the workplace. They provide a clear path to help employees partake in a respectful and positive way in the workplace.
Also, make it a continuous learning process that is done over time.You can then roll out a series of programmes like events, mentoring sessions and online courses. There are plenty of training courses you can do online to help educate you and your employees.
There are a number of company’s out there who have implemented training and have seen great results, such as HubSpot. This year marks a milestone in their journey to become a more diverse and inclusive company.
“We've learned a lot over the years, and especially in 2020. The past year showed us that empathy alone isn't enough - it requires action.”-Hubspot Diversity Report
Here are some top tips for initiating a diversity programme in your organisation
Firstly, make sure that diversity is something that is a priority.
Have clear goals set out to be integrated with the rest of the company’s objectives.
Start from the top
Senior management must be involved from the beginning and must be involved in all aspects of the programme, from workshops to Q&A sessions. This buy-in is critical.
It is not enough to have a one-off training course or event. It must be implemented into your company’s yearly objectives; you want people to include what they have learned from their training into their daily lives and help create an inclusive environment that welcomes and includes each employee.
Recruit for a diverse workforce
It is important when recruiting for your company that potential candidates are from a variety of backgrounds. You need to diversify and widen your talent pool as much as possible. Here are a few steps to help you build a diverse group of employees:
- Start at the beginning- Sourcing
As a recruiter I would look at different sourcing platforms to help find candidates out there in the market. LinkedIn is a great sourcing tool, but I would also use various job boards. I find being proactive and diving into different talent pools helps me engage with different audiences and groups out there in the marketplace.
Also, be aware of how you represent your open jobs to the market. It has been scientifically proven that certain words used on jobs specifications are more likely to get male applicants than female, and vise versa. Tailoring your message can have a huge impact on the diversity of the talent pool you engage with for a role.
Pro tip: Joining various groups on LinkedIn/Facebook will help you find a diverse group of people, which will help broaden your talent pool.
- Conducting interviews
Have an assorted team doing the interviews to ensure the person who is chosen is hired based on their experience for the position. Also knowing what questions to ask and what not to ask is crucial. Questions regarding their personal life are not permitted. Many companies have diversity quotas for hiring.
It is important to be more diverse with your interview panel, the better it will be for your company, with a diversity recruitment objective. Everyone looks for something different in candidates and could see potential where others cannot. As a minimum rule, never have an all-white, all-male panel.
Pro tip: If you are looking to hire more women on your team, why not get creative and reach out to organisations that have a strong audience of women and advertise on their platforms.This will definitely give your company a competitive advantage.
- Ensure consistent training is provided
As mentioned in the training section, having events, doing online courses and mentoring sessions is a great way to ensure that your team is fully trained throughout their time at your organisation.
Encourage conversations and create an effective feedback loop to alway listen to your employees concerns, so that you’re able to stay ahead of the issues and address these as and when they pop up.
- Unconscious bias training
Unconscious bias doesn’t just happen during the recruiting process, it is also evident during promotion too. We can have a tendency to favor those who are similar to us. When educating your employees about fighting unconscious bias, don’t forget about limitations of such training.
You shouldn’t emphasize the individual responsibility over larger structural changes and think that it will erase the broader issues of discrimination and inequity in the workplace.
So what have we learnt about diversity training?
In conclusion, diversity training is crucial to have in the workplace. Not just for the employers and employees but for the progress of the company. The more open minded people become, the easier it will be to build and improve your company’s reputation. This will impact your company in the long run in terms of differentiation, innovation, and improved employer branding.
So get started on your diversity training today to help you to have a richer, more diverse workplace that delivers better performance and a stronger culture. Plus we’re in 2021, irrespective of gender, personal choices or backgrounds, people have a lot to contribute to their work and that should be the point of focus and nothing else.
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