Creating a truly inclusive workplace requires more than just good intentions; it demands actionable strategies and knowing practical diversity training examples. And that’s exactly what this article aims to! To empower HR professionals and people managers with concrete diversity and inclusion training examples.

Understanding Diversity and Inclusion Training

Imagine a garden where every flower, regardless of its color or type, is given the chance to bloom and flourish. Diversity and inclusion training, often known as diversity training, aims to create such an environment in the workplace.

This type of structured program is focused on educating employees and managers on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The goal? To improve understanding and interaction among employees from different backgrounds, promoting a culture of respect and collaboration.

The best D&I training encompasses education on a range of topics, including:

  • Bias: Training sessions often include examples of both conscious and unconscious bias, helping employees recognize and address their own prejudices.
  • Awareness: Increasing awareness involves educating employees about the various dimensions of diversity, including race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and disability. It also involves understanding the importance of respecting these differences.
  • Cultural Competence: This aspect of training focuses on improving employees' ability to interact effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds. Some activities might include role-playing exercises or case studies that highlight cultural misunderstandings and how to resolve them.
  • Equity: Ensuring fairness in the workplace by addressing systemic barriers that prevent equal access to opportunities. Employee diversity training often includes discussions on creating equitable policies and practices that promote fairness for all employees.
Diversity and inclusion training topics

Types of Diversity Training

Diversity and inclusion training comes in various forms, each like a different tool in a gardener's kit, designed to address specific aspects of diversity and cultivate an inclusive workplace. Here are some common types of diversity training in the workplace:

1. Unconscious Bias Training

Imagine having a pair of tinted glasses that slightly distort your view without you realizing it. That’s an unconscious bias. This kind of training helps employees take off these glasses and see more clearly if they could be discriminating someone without noticing, why this happens, and how to change it. 

A hiring simulation exercise is a good way to address this type of training. The employees are given resumes for a fictional role and asked to review and rank candidates. The resumes are crafted to include subtle indicators of different genders, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. 

After the initial review, participants discuss their rankings. Facilitators guide the discussion, highlighting where unconscious biases may have influenced decisions, such as preferring candidates with "white-sounding" names over those with similar qualifications but "ethnic-sounding" names.

2. Cultural Competence Training

Think of cultural competence training as receiving a map to navigate through the diverse cultural landscapes of the workplace. This training covers topics such as cultural awareness, communication styles, and cultural norms. 

Role-playing activities and case studies highlight cultural misunderstandings and teach employees how to respect and adapt to various cultural norms. 

For instance, employees might practice greeting each other in different cultural contexts. In Spain, people are used to greet each other with two-cheek kisses, but in the UK, that’s not the case. In a pluricultural workplace, this exercise could illustrate easily how to work harmoniously with colleagues from diverse backgrounds.

3. Equity Training

We first need to understand the difference between equality and equity. Equality refers to treating everyone the same (regardless of their background, etnicity, gender, etc.) and equity is providing everyone with what they need to succeed. But of course, to notice the barriers, you need equity raining.

Essentially speaking, equity training focuses on identifying and removing systemic barriers that could prevent certain groups from accessing opportunities. 

A good example is adapting the office headquarters so people with reduced mobility can work properly. Or creating work policies that support employees with mental health conditions remotely and on site. 

4. Inclusive Leadership Training

Inclusive leadership training is designed to equip leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to foster an inclusive and supportive work environment. This type of training focuses on developing leaders who can effectively manage diverse teams, ensure all voices are heard, and create a culture of respect and belonging. 

Usually, this type of training includes recognizing and mitigating biases in leadership decisions so they can learn about common biases that can affect their judgment, such as affinity bias (favoring those who are similar to oneself) and confirmation bias (favoring information that confirms preexisting beliefs). While also practice active listening, encouraging diverse viewpoints, providing constructive feedback, etc.

Advantages of Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Training

Diversity and inclusion training offers numerous benefits for both employees and organizations. Here’s a detailed outline of these advantages:

  • Employee diversity training helps break down barriers, leading to more effective and harmonious teamwork.
  • Fosters a culture of respect and understanding.
  • D&I training encourages employees to think outside the box and leverage diverse viewpoints to solve problems and generate new ideas.
  • Sensitivity and awareness help reduce instances of microaggressions.
  • When employees feel valued and included, their job satisfaction increases.
  • Companies known for their commitment to diversity and inclusion attract top talent and loyal customers.
  • Diverse teams make better decisions because they consider a wider range of perspectives.

Examples of Real-World Company Diversity and Inclusion Training Initiatives

Let’s see now what talented and successful companies globally are doing to support their diversity and inclusion culture. These are some of the best diversity and inclusion training programs you can gather inspiration from.

Examples of Real-World Company Diversity and Inclusion Training Initiatives
Company Description Outcome
Google Helps employees identify and understand their unconscious biases and learn strategies to combat them. Increased awareness and motivation to address biases.
IBM Promotes diversity, inclusion, and allyship through supportive communities, inclusive workplace design, business resource groups, skills-first talent strategies, and allyship and education initiatives. Establishment of 25 new BRGs in 2023, completion of annual training on business conduct guidelines by all employees.
Procter & Gamble Promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion by eliminating bias in communications, cultivating inclusive leadership, ensuring equitable experiences, and collaborating with stakeholders to address systemic biases. Commitment to accurately portray diverse groups in communications, development of inclusive leaders, expansion of employees' ability to self-identify.
Microsoft Fosters a more inclusive culture by encouraging employees to become better allies and engage in empathetic and supportive behaviors, promoting diversity through inclusion and continuous learning. Emphasis on inclusive leadership, promoting individuality, empathy, and access for all, teaching allyship through various media, encouraging continuous learning and growth.

1. Google

The Google Unconscious Bias Training, known as "Unconscious Bias @ Work," is designed to help employees identify and understand their unconscious biases and learn strategies to combat them. 

The training emphasizes the importance of recognizing these biases because they can significantly impact workplace decisions and behaviors, often in subtle ways. 

Over 26,000 Googlers have participated in this workshop, which has been shown to significantly increase awareness and motivation to address biases. Their focus was:

  • Collecting data to measure improvements in areas such as gender representation.
  • Using clear, consistent criteria for evaluating options, such as in structured interviews during hiring.
  • Paying attention to who is included or excluded in various contexts and making changes to promote balanced representation.
  • Encouraging employees to hold themselves and others accountable for bias, using tools like a “bias busting checklist” during performance reviews.

2. IBM

The IBM Be Equal Training Program is a robust and multifaceted initiative aimed at promoting diversity, inclusion, and allyship within the company. 

The program encompasses a wide range of activities, from fostering supportive communities and advocating for policy changes to implementing inclusive workplace designs and offering targeted training and development opportunities. Here’s an in-depth look at what the Be Equal Training Program entails:

  • Supportive Communities: IBM has eight official communities representing various groups such as Women, LGBTQ+, People with Diverse Abilities, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Pan-Asian, and Veterans. 
  • Inclusive Workplace Design: IBM's Inclusive Workplace Design initiative includes features like all-gender restrooms, reflection and prayer rooms, lactation rooms, increased aisle widths and turning radius, and tonal contrast materials for the visually impaired.
  • Business Resource Groups (BRGs): BRGs are volunteer, employee-led groups formed around common interests or backgrounds, with over 200 BRGs globally and participation in more than 50 countries. In 2023, IBM established 25 new BRGs.
  • Skills-First Talent Strategies: IBM emphasizes skills-first hiring over specific degrees, focusing on relevant skills through programs like apprenticeships and returnships. 
  • Allyship and Education: IBM offers voluntary training and support to foster inclusive behaviors and allyship. All employees must complete annual training on Business Conduct Guidelines, including topics like sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, and retaliation prevention. The "Be Equal® Ally Badge" has been earned by thousands of IBMers.

3. Procter & Gamble

The P&G (Procter & Gamble) Be Equal Training Program is a comprehensive initiative designed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the company. The program aims to cultivate an inclusive culture, inspire leadership, and ensure equitable access and opportunities for all employees. 

Here’s an expanded overview of what the Be Equal Training Program entails:

  • As one of the world’s largest advertiser, P&G is committed to using its communication platforms to eliminate bias and promote equality. The company aims to accurately portray people of all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities, and ages in its communications. 
  • P&G emphasizes that the best leaders are inclusive, accountable, and capable of leading diverse organizations. These leaders understand the value of a diverse talent pipeline and take responsibility for nurturing it. They proactively shape the company culture to support the growth and development of diverse talent.
  • P&G also strives to create an environment where all employees have equal and equitable experiences. This involves expanding employees' ability to self-identify, eliminating bias in core systems, and ensuring accessibility in systems, technologies, and facilities. 
  • Finally, P&G recognizes that achieving equality requires collaboration with various stakeholders, including NGOs, governments, and other companies. The company is committed to partnering with organizations that share its commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion, working together to address systemic biases and improve community outcomes.

4. Microsoft

The Microsoft Allyship Program is a comprehensive initiative designed to foster a more inclusive culture within the company by encouraging employees to become better allies and engage in empathetic and supportive behaviors. Here's an expanded overview of what the program entails:

  • The program aims to instill an inclusive mindset by encouraging employees to embrace individuality, tackle biases, build empathy, and ensure access and opportunity for all. This involves promoting diversity through inclusion, where every team member can be their best, authentic selves. 
  • The MAP is rooted in the belief that the best leaders are inclusive and capable of leading diverse organizations. By fostering an inclusive environment, they enable employees to feel engaged, productive, and comfortable bringing their full, authentic selves to work
  • Microsoft aims to instill an inclusive mindset by encouraging employees to embrace individuality, tackle biases, build empathy, and ensure access and opportunity for all.
  • Through 10 segments using various media to appeal to different learning styles, the program teaches that everyone has the potential to be an ally and benefit from greater inclusion.
  • It also emphasizes the importance of empathetic action rather than acting as a "savior," and encourages continuous learning and growth.

Strategies for Developing Effective Diversity Training

Now that you have learned about the types of diversity and inclusion programs, and what other important companies are doing regarding this topic, it’s time to define what makes their programs great, and what you can do to build your own employee diversity program.

  • Define Goals: Start by clearly defining what you want to achieve with your diversity training. Whether it's increasing awareness, reducing biases, or fostering inclusive behaviors, having specific goals will guide the content and structure of your training.
  • Measurable Outcomes: Establish measurable outcomes to track the success of your training. This could include changes in employee attitudes, increased diversity in leadership roles, or improved team collaboration.
  • Know Your Audience: Different groups within your organization may have varying needs and levels of understanding regarding diversity. Customize your training to address these differences. For example, new hires may need a basic introduction, while managers might require advanced training on inclusive leadership.
  • Gather Input: Collect feedback from participants before, during, and after the training. Use surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews to understand their needs and perceptions.
  • Continuous Improvement: Use the feedback to continuously improve your training program. Regularly update content and methods based on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Leverage Expert Facilitators: Use facilitators, like the ones Meditopia For Work can provide, who are experienced in diversity and inclusion training. They should be skilled in managing sensitive discussions and capable of providing valuable insights.
  • Leadership Support: Secure buy-in from top leadership and have them actively participate in and endorse the training. Visible support from leaders reinforces the importance of the training and encourages broader engagement.
diversity training examples

Key Takeaways

  • Diversity and Inclusion training, also known as diversity training in the workplace, aims to create an environment where every employee feels valued, respected, and included. 
  • Effective D&I training fosters a culture of respect and collaboration, breaks down barriers, and encourages diverse viewpoints, leading to innovation and better decision-making.
  • Different groups within an organization may have varying needs regarding diversity training. Customizing training to address these differences ensures relevance and effectiveness.
  • Engage participants through interactive elements such as role-playing, group discussions, and real-life scenarios. This helps reinforce learning and makes the training more relatable and impactful.

Diversity and Inclusion Training Examples: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should diversity training be conducted?

Diversity training should be conducted regularly, with an initial comprehensive session followed by annual refreshers to reinforce concepts. Additionally, offering workshops and seminars throughout the year, helps maintain engagement and commitment to diversity and inclusion. Meditopia for Work can help you with personalized training.

How can I measure the success of diversity training?

Success can be measured through pre- and post-training surveys to assess changes in employee attitudes and awareness. Tracking metrics such as increased diversity in leadership roles, improved team collaboration, and reduced incidents of discrimination or bias can also provide insights into the training’s effectiveness.

What are some challenges in implementing diversity training?

Challenges include resistance from employees, especially if they feel singled out or uncomfortable discussing sensitive topics. Ensuring the training is relevant and engaging for a diverse audience and securing ongoing commitment from leadership can also be difficult but is crucial for long-term success.

Who should be involved in creating diversity training programs?

Diversity training programs should be developed with input from a diverse group of stakeholders, including HR professionals, diversity and inclusion experts, employees from various backgrounds, and senior leadership. Involving these groups ensures the training is comprehensive, relevant, and supported at all levels of the organization.

What role does leadership play in diversity training?

Leadership plays a critical role by setting the tone and demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Leaders should actively participate in training, endorse the program publicly, and integrate inclusive practices into everyday operations to reinforce the importance of the initiative throughout the organization.