In recent months due to anti-racism protests in the US and Canada, some organizations have recently mandated to have Diversity and Inclusion training for their workforce.  The decision-makers have finally recognized that D/I training education is necessary for today’s diverse, unique work environment not only for greater understanding but also for respect and acceptance.

However, despite of this initiative, once again many organizations are probably offering nothing more than just lip service to their employees. And it may not be entirely their fault.  Let me explain, the training department of an organization reaches out to a diversity training company seeking cultural diversity education sessions. A representative comes in and delivers a standard session, or virtual,  which is not the best way, but under current Covid 19 situations, it might be the only method.

This is what should be done before requesting diversity training sessions from any company:

The HR department should first conduct a survey to determine the level of knowledge and understanding of D/I among their employees.   This is crucial because most likely every employee has a different level of understanding of  D/I issues. The following are probabilities in an average workplace:

  • One-third of the staff members are very knowledgeable.
  • One-third of the employees are somewhat well-informed.
  • One-third of the workers have very little understanding.

For diversity training to be effective there needs to be different levels of training for employees, instead of one size fits all. Otherwise, it is like putting highly trained and novice IT personnel in the same training room.  And when training is carried out in an improper and inefficient way, the common result is that the sessions become unsuccessful because the beginners are overwhelmed with the content. And for those who already have a good foundation of the topic, the sessions become too basic. Then only a small portion of the employees actually benefit.

Furthermore,  the sessions need to be custom designed to meet the specific issues and concerns of a multicultural workforce. For instance, the makeup of a workforce in Vancouver is much different than in Toronto since Asian and South Asian communities are more prominent on the west coast, whereas in Toronto there is a greater number of African-Canadians.

In addition, the diversity and inclusion sessions should be delivered by an expert who has truly lived and breathed diversity issues. A superb diversity speaker should not only move the audience emotionally but also get them motivated to take action for a real change in the workforce to bring about cultural harmony.