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Oct 24, 2019 Katelind Hays

A Crash Course in Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and Inclusion Training Basics Virtually There session recap

Recently, a number of high-profile and previously well-respected organizations have come under fire for seemingly tone-deaf corporate action. Starbucks, Gucci, and Sephora all had well publicized racial and gender-equality missteps.

These organizations could have avoided these costly PR stumbles with the right Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) training approach. During their recent Virtually There session, experts Daila Boufford and Vani Narayana shared how a thoughtful D&I strategy can not only create more welcoming teams, but also evolve corporate culture.

Whether your organization has an established diversity & inclusion training process or you plan to launch one from scratch, understanding the basics ensures a positive outcome.

What’s the Difference between Diversity & Inclusion?

Like many training trends, you’ve probably heard the term Diversity & Inclusion. But what does it mean for an organization to be both diverse and inclusive?

Diversity refers to the people in an organization – is there a mix of genders and backgrounds? Do they have diverse viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds?

Pinning down inclusion, though, proves tougher. Daila and Vani provide an insightful explanation:

"Sometimes we forget that D&I are two separate concepts that are both essential. We often make the effort to create a diverse team, but don’t take the additional step needed to make the environment feel inclusive. The result can be a group of people with a wide variety of viewpoints, who don’t feel respected, safe to voice their viewpoints, or who are in constant conflict. The marginalized people on the team are often labeled difficult or incompetent when they don’t agree with how we’ve always done things. This defeats the purpose of having a diverse team. We have to make people feel welcomed, valued, and affirmed to reap the benefits of diversity and to retain our employees."

For those of us in leadership or management roles, this clarifies the relationship between the two concepts. Diversity speaks to team or organizational composition, while inclusion addresses the work environment and culture.

The Benefits of Diversity & Inclusivity

Great learning initiatives connect directly to defined business objectives – solving a skills gap, addressing a change in process, improving effectiveness. Focusing on inclusivity and diversity bring with the effort many benefits. Daila and Vani highlighted a number of compelling reasons for spearheading D&I programs:

  • Inclusivity – When the organizational culture empowers employees to “feel like they belong and that people value their contributions” key business performance success measures can improve, including:
    • Productivity
    • Motivation
    • Willingness to share ideas
    • Increased work product quality
    • Employee retention
  • Diversity – Teams that include a wide variety of perspectives have a unique competitive advantage in their space, thanks to advantages like:
    • Serving a diverse client base.
    • Innovating new products and services.
    • Engaging clients and coworkers thoughtfully.

Ultimately, “diverse workforces… create in-house knowledge to empower unique end products and to market them to multiple target audiences.” An organization thrives when it can serve many customers effectively with focused solutions to their problems. Plus, if employees feel supported when sharing their perspectives, their loyalty to the organization grows and their work results improve.

In these ways, diversity boosts the bottom line and assists in solving fundamental and costly business challenges.

Looking for actionable advice and examples you can use to design your own D&I training programs? Click here to watch the Diversity and Inclusion – Planting Seeds of Change in the Digital Space for free.


Published by Katelind Hays October 24, 2019
Katelind Hays