Why do we need equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging training?
We are in an era of ever-growing globalization and the pandemic has shone a very clear light on the increasing need for us to work together. It has also proven that it is easier than many thought for us to work successfully across global boundaries. In this context, understanding each other better and embracing difference and the value it brings has never been more vital.
The economic business case for inclusion has been established and endorsed globally many times over. A Boston Consulting Group study, for example, found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues – particularly due to the greater innovation that a mix of experience, thought and background brings.
And there are additional drivers emerging all the time.
A huge challenge for organizations currently is “The Great Resignation” (a mass exodus of people leaving employment post-pandemic) and the current talent shortage. A 2021 Manpower Group study revealed 69% of companies globally report talent shortages – the highest in fifteen years. So not only will it be harder to find talent in 2022, but organizations will also need to demonstrate they can meet the changing priorities that potential new candidates are looking for. For many, the pandemic has put an emphasis on life priorities, such as access to childcare, greater flexibility and support around mental health and this translates to employees desiring to work for companies with strong values and commitments to inclusion.
If we also look at who makes up our workforce, the younger generation will be key. By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials. This group will occupy the majority of leadership roles over the coming decade. If businesses are looking to hire and sustain a millennial workforce, diversity must be a key part of the company culture.
A Gartner poll suggests that the youngest employees are the most passionate about inclusion and belonging and they are more likely to vocalize their passion. They aspire to work for companies that value diversity and are supportive to all. These polls also suggest that Gen Z (those born 1997-2012) want to see action and results – good intentions are not enough. They want to see inclusion actualized at every level – and particularly role modeled by the senior leaders.
US organization, Great Place to Work, conducted a survey that revealed that Gen Z Is likely to be the most diverse workforce so far and they want this reflected in their workplaces. As this group emerges into the workforce, employers will have to show real commitment to EDIB if they are to attract them into their workplaces. They will need to put diversity, inclusion and belonging at the forefront of all they do – from defining talent with diversity in mind to managing diverse teams.
Although organizations are investing more than ever before in creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces, many are at the start of that journey and finding their way. A key realization for many is that an EDIB focus should go beyond recruitment and look also at retention.
To do this, investing in training and developing the organization’s collective knowledge and understanding of equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging is vital… Everyone has a part to play in creating a truly inclusive and welcoming culture.
All these factors show it is imperative that employers build a solid and sustainable genuine culture of inclusion & belonging. Training is one of the key strategies for making this happen.
The approach Focal Point & Learning Pool have taken to designing the new ED&I / DE&I collection for Learning Pool has been twofold:
- Laying the foundation: to ensure we all have a shared understanding of what we mean by a diverse and inclusive workforce and what that actually looks like in practice.
- Actions and behavioural change: to equip all learners to take action to help us achieve greater diversity, inclusion and belonging.
These may be practical actions that can be implemented on an individual, team and organizational level – often around processes and ways of doing things.
But it is also – and this is the critical bit – giving everyone the confidence to have conversations when they are needed and in the appropriate way. This could be helping a manager to know how to step in if inappropriate or discriminatory comments are being made – or supporting all of us to be able to speak up if we, or others around us, feel uncomfortable.
Building confidence in everyone to have conversations, ask questions, and develop an understanding of each other will help to shift the dial on inclusion.
We’re not claiming that our training is going to be the answer to all the problems – training of any sort rarely works in isolation. All training – whether elearning, virtual or face-to-face – needs to be offered in the context of wider organizational support and commitment.
The real difference will be made when our training is consciously implemented and linked to all aspects of everyday life. Some simple steps can make a real difference for inclusion and belonging, and don’t worry, we can help with that too in our continuing training resources.
As the research above suggests, for many, patience is wearing thin for stated goals, pledges and charters. They are a vital starting point but quickly become meaningless if not accompanied by visible action. We have to turn stated intention into concrete action to see real change. And we all have a part to play in making that happen.
Consisting of 23 lessons, including ‘Mental Health in the Workplace’, ‘Disability Inclusion in Practice’ and ‘Sexual Harassment at Work’, Learning Pool’s brand new EDI collection is NOW AVAILABLE. Find out more here.
Movell is an equality, diversity, inclusion, and belonging specialist working for Focal Point Training.