The workplace is a sacred environment, as we all have the right to work. Thus, companies have the legal responsibility to create non-discriminatory conditions. Because of this, diversity training has long been a hallmark of Learning and Development, in order to satisfy Human Resources’ compliance needs.
As evidence shows, workplace diversity training under the guise of compliance yields near zero progress. Even within the past decade, where DEI budgets have outpaced all other learning initiatives, due to internal and public pressure, companies have still been unable to implement DEI initiatives that actually create change. The biggest problem is that companies are still confused on what the goals of DEI is supposed to be.
DEI goals must be redefined in order to create change. Like the points above, most DEI goals put stress on minority group-identities, such as: race, gender, sexuality, physical ability. This immediately undermines the primary goal of DEI, which is to include everyone.
At Infinity, where I work, our DEI goal is this: Everyone is to achieve success. I think this is the maximum expression of an equitable and inclusive environment.
Once you have defined a proper DEI goal for your company, it is paramount to create a workplace culture around DEI. This is a large responsibility for Organizational Development and Learning and Development departments, but one that is fundamental. Everyone in the company must want to serve the DEI goal and understand its importance. In order to achieve this, a strategy must include engagement, commitment, and feedback.
In order to create buy-in, employees must be able to relate to the overall vision. That’s a truth with all growth objectives — without interest, no change will happen. The way that I advise my clients is to frame DEI around an individual journey of self exploration.
When DEI becomes a project of self-analysis, imbued with improvement, expression and empowerment, everyone in the company becomes a stakeholder. DEI should be about learning to become a better person and extending that benefit to peers. Employees should not feel as if they have to accept something or live in defect. DEI is about growth.
One you have employees engaged, it’s important to make sure that everyone stays committed. Commitment comes through authenticity. If your company continually shows that outlined goals are important, employees will stay committed as the objectives become a company theme. Everyone should be striving to uncover individual uniqueness.
Infinity Entertainment, an internal communication company, works with Infinity Unconventional Education to create branded campaigns which reinforce learning programs . Karen Visigalli, the Chief Communications Officer of Infinity Entertainment says, “ when learning programs are combined with a branded communication approach, employees emotionally connect to the asset. It’s not only a strategic choice for relevance, but it shows care to employees.”
At Infinity, we are a diverse organization. The success of DEI is fundamental to us. We do not just rely on a diversity officer check up on each employee, rather everyone is responsible to make sure that growth is achieved. Part of the Performance Management standards that are in place are training completions, feedback and coaching sessions, as well as reward opportunities, accessible to everyone.
It’s important to have a feedback system in place so that employees can be guided through their individual DEI journeys. Without honestly understanding where growth opportunities remain unchallenged, it’s important to highlight and review them.
The best way to create incredible DEI learning is to have diverse groups of people work together. When I create programs, I always push for different levels of seniority to work with each other. Additionally, different teams and different departments all interacting with one another offer important insights, helping everyone along their path of self reflection.
It is fundamental that everyone’s opinion is heard. Equity is about making sure that everyone has a voice to speak up and express their needs, from both sides of the fence. Everyone’s opinion counts and censoring certain language via cancel culture will hinder. It is paramount to listen to everyone, before speaking. To make equity a company culture, your company must be ready for some eggs to crack. And that’s OK. Learning is supposed to be a little uncomfortable.
The reason that most companies crave DEI training is because inclusive workplaces create stronger teams. When people are able to see beyond personal bias, they’re able to see hidden talents in others. Great DEI programs must create an environment where people can compare and contrast their ideas and beliefs with their colleagues. Encourage intimacy.
Infinity Unconventional Education developed its own curated workshop on DEI. It’s called PAN, an experiental course framed around Aristotle Poetics, epic self-discovery and spic The concrete results are growth and behavioral change thanks to guided journey in learning how to view people as people. Individuals as individuals.
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