A record number of businesses, nonprofits, and organizations were inspired to incorporate DEI in 2020. But now what?
As needs, expectations, and goals have shifted enormously across industries in diversity, equity, and inclusion, here are five steps to begin a solid DEI education and training program for your organization in 2021.
#1 Educate everyone.
(Educate each; elevate all.)
Too often there’s the belief that if a leadership team completes DEI courses, they can then spread the concepts throughout the entire organization. However, this approach fails for two simple reasons. First, because it assumes a “one and done” model of DEI education. Second, it puts entirely too much pressure on the executives who, for the most part, are not DEI experts.
When using the popular “leadership only” approach, many leaders feel the unrealistic expectation to be perfect role models before they can coach their middle management or even share broader DEI concepts with their teams. This will never work and the benefits of DEI will never come to fruition because leadership will never be perfect.
We use the “educate each; elevate all” approach because it’s essential for the entire organization to be involved in order to create effective allyship. It raises the bar for everyone to incorporate DEI into their professional development and sets the tone for a cultural expectation at all levels.
#2 Use inclusive education styles.
(Offer diverse learning style opportunities.)
When adopting a DEI curriculum, make sure your DEI learning journey is adapted to the diversity of learners.
All learners exist on the spectrum of four styles: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. If your training only is visual or auditory, you run the risk of limiting the success of the group by 50% or more.
Blue Level offers a combination of eLearning, eWorkshops, articles, and Train-the-Trainer courses, as well as 1:1 sessions in 11 languages. This ensures every employee can be educated using their optimal learning style.
#3 Encourage intervention by everyone.
(Create an intervention culture.)
In allyship, no one is perfect. In DEI, we acknowledge mistakes as learning opportunities and a natural part of life. To build a culture of allyship within your organization, you must focus on education, bystander intervention, and accountability.
This means encouraging leaders and employees—not once a year, but every month—to embrace new learning opportunities. An expectation must be set to compassionately call in or call out instances of racism, sexism, linguism, or homophobia when they occur—leaving room for growth at the forefront of these conversations.
We encourage continual DEI education. And we use non-blaming, non-victimizing, engaging, and uplifting teaching methods. Our goal is to empower everyone to recognize new opportunities for growth and to easily incorporate DEI into their daily lives.
#4 Everyone is held accountable, even suppliers.
When you create a culture of DEI, the same value expectations should be required by vendors, suppliers, and customers. They too shape your organization’s culture.
Companies are starting to require that new vendors show proof of completed diversity, equity, and inclusion courses in RFPs or before signing a contract. This extra diversity step not only protects employees, it also protects clients and the brand.
Blue Level’s experts consult on policy procedures and supplier diversity to help companies integrate DEI into the complete lifecycle of the brand.
#5 Train, implement, and train again.
In the world of DEI education, there is no box to check when complete. The experts are just like you and me, everyone is always learning. The sooner the majority realizes that becoming an ally is a journey, not a destination, the sooner real DEI results will be achieved.
Studies prove we can only retain training information for a short period of time. That is why annual DEI training is insufficient. Instead, training needs to consist of multiple touch points and updates throughout the year.
With our clients, Blue Level customizes DEI Learning Journeys to create sustainable progress throughout the year, every year.
Why put in all the effort?
Because when DEI is implemented properly (through practice, advocacy, and continual training), not only will your workplace culture improve, but you can also increase revenue by up to 19% as a direct result.
If you are trying to get started with DEI training in your organization, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Karine Bah Tahé, Blue Level Founder and CEO