Strategies for Effective IDE Training: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity

Incorporating inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) into company culture can be challenging, but it is essential for promoting a positive and productive work environment. Traditional diversity and anti-bias training have not achieved significant change within organizations and may even be detrimental. Sociologists Alexandra Kalev and Frank Dobbin explain that “… The typical diversity training program doesn’t just fail to promote diversity, it actually leads to declines in management diversity.” Their research suggests that mandatory attendance at training creates resentment, while voluntary attendance creates a willingness to listen and learn. It is fair to say that most training has been ineffective and merely an exercise in optics.

So, what type of training is effective? Effective diversity and inclusion (DEI) training requires committed and persistent action by managers at all levels. Systemic change demands validation of the process by senior management, encouraging employee buy-in, and creating greater opportunities for real change. Simple changes can support employees’ willingness to examine their own prejudices and biases. For example, most people are resistant to mandatory training but respond positively to open invitations.

Moreover, since every organization’s culture has different elements that affect the delivery of programs, IDEA training should align with the organization’s values and mission. The goal must be to not only change attitudes and perspectives but also create sustained changes in behaviour.

Successful IDEA training may produce substantial benefits. Comprehensive and sustained IDEA training encourages a sense of belonging in the entire workforce, raising morale and helping to establish effective teams and a more cohesive organizational culture. IDEA training has also been found to increase the financial performance of companies that follow through with systemic changes to increase diversity and inclusion. For example, a study by the Boston Consulting Group staff found that companies with “above average 'management diversity'… Reported innovation revenue was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity.” Additionally, a study by Josh Bersin found that companies that scored highly in diversity and inclusion metrics experienced 2.3 times the cash flow per employee than companies with less diverse and inclusive management.

Moreover, IDEA training produces happier, more engaged employees who stay longer at companies, improving retention rates and lowering recruitment costs. Changes in organizational culture also allow greater contributions by employees from groups who have previously been excluded from promotions, mentorships, and central roles in the organization’s mission. Equity-seeking employees represent a lost opportunity; organizations are paying for a detuned version of their people and are losing the potential for innovation that can be liberated by integrating IDEA principles with their culture.

IDEA training is essential to any company’s diversity and inclusion strategy. By aligning training with the organization’s values and mission, making it voluntary rather than mandatory, and committing to sustained change, organizations can create an inclusive culture that benefits both the workforce and the bottom line. With real benefits to employee retention, financial performance, and innovation, there is no reason for companies to hesitate in implementing effective IDEA training.

Are you ready to take action and incorporate inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA) into your company culture? We believe that effective IDEA training is essential for any organization that wants to create a more inclusive workplace and reap the benefits of a diverse workforce. Learn more about how we can help your organization create sustained change, increase financial performance, and promote a sense of belonging for all employees. Learn more about our IDEA training programs and take the first step towards a more inclusive workplace culture.

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Alexander, L., & Moore, M. (2021). Improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace. The CPA Journal, 91(4), 14-18.
Bersin, J. (2018). The diversity and inclusion revolution: Eight powerful truths. Deloitte Insights.
Boston Consulting Group. (2018). How diverse leadership teams boost innovation.
Dobbin, F., & Kalev, A. (2016). Why diversity programs fail. Harvard Business Review, 94(7/8), 52-60.
Goudreau, J. (2017). 5 Reasons Diversity and Inclusion Training Fails - And How to Do It Right. Forbes.
Kimmel, M., & Hollis-Sawyer, L. (2019). Preparing for diversity and inclusion: lessons for organizational training. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, 23(2), 51-63.
Slaughter, J. E., & Kim, S. (2020). The Impact of Diversity Training on Employee Experiences: An Organizational Perspective. Journal of Business and Psychology, 35(4), 507-521.