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Diversity training is training intended to increase cultural awareness, knowledge and skills, and increase the inclusion of identity groups. This ultimately is designed to assist an organization promote a more diverse corporate culture, protect against civil rights issues, and promote better teamwork. This is accomplished through training in communications to all levels of an organization, reinforcement of policies and procedures to be more inclusive, design and implementation of strategies that limit the potential problems associated with lower diversity levels or diversity awareness.
Diversity Training Workshops
* Diversity training workshops last about two to three hours, and courses last a minimum of four days. Workshops and courses teach conflict resolution skills, preparation for increases in racial and gender diversity, international work and safeguarding against harassment. Unfortunately, diversity training through workshops or courses produces only short-term positive effects. It seems that the “afterglow” of this type of training fades fast. Diversity Offices
* Having a diversity office provides more training opportunities than a workshop or course does. Diversity offices can offer follow-up sessions in addition to the more extensive three-day to one-week diversity training sessions they conduct.
* Companies that compete in the international marketplace use sojourner training to help employees who will relocate to a foreign country. Once employees go through this type of diversity training prior to managing or working in foreign operations, their effectiveness increases. Sojourner training also provides counselling to help employees readjust to their return home. Ongoing Reinforcement
* Rather than simply offering a short-term course or workshop, companies
that make a real difference in diversity training are those that practice equality on an ongoing basis. In these companies, diversity is not just an add-on but also a major part of the corporate culture. In other words, to truly achieve diversity in the workplace, a company must practice what it preaches. Examples of ongoing reinforcement are hiring a diverse employee pool, recognition for diversity efforts, allowing minority groups to form support groups and celebrating cultures via special programs.
How to Develop a Diversity Training Program
Developing a diversity training program for your organization typically involves assessing your team’s needs, designing materials that reflect your training requirements, delivering workshops and reference materials and evaluating your efforts. Companies that implement diversity training programs to advocate workplace diversity tend to have higher employee retention rates, improved morale, reduced lawsuits and improved recruiting. Step 1
Initiate a diversity training program development project by identifying the project sponsors and stakeholders. Interview these people, conduct focus groups or conduct online surveys to gather input about the current environment in your organization and what behaviours need to change. Common topics include managing change, effective communication, cultural awareness, dealing with gender issues and conflict resolution. Step 2
Define objectives for your program. For example, you may want to minimize miscommunication and misinterpretation on the job. You may also want employees to recognize and value differences in age, experience, social customs, sense of time and demeanour. Achieving these types of objectives enables you to manage a culturally diverse and multi-generational workforce and resolve minor incidents before they become bigger problems. Step 3
Design your workshop. Prepare presentation materials to instruct participants about definitions and concepts associated with diversity. Intersperse long periods of instruction with interactive activities such as ice breakers,
role-playing exercises and case studies. Ensure your content flows smoothly and covers all the relevant topics. Step 4
Deliver your workshop at team meetings, company events or separate training sessions. Decide how long your session should last, depending on the number of topics you want to cover, the number of participants and the participant’s familiarity with the content. Step 5
Create a quiz to test employees on their knowledge of diversity topics. Step 6
Evaluate your program’s effectiveness by creating an online survey to assess participant satisfaction. Talk with managers several months after your event to see if people have changed their behaviour and become more tolerant of people whose values may differ from their own. The Advantages of Diversity Training
Fewer Lawsuits: One of main causes of concern in upper management is lawsuits filed by employees for discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal. Diversity training helps all employees in a company to know what the laws are and what the company policies are. With training, people learn what acceptable behaviour is when dealing with a subordinate, peer or someone you feel is different from you in a way such as race, religion, nationality or physical abilities. In many cases, a situation is interpreted differently by the people involved, leading to misunderstandings and charges of wrongdoing. Once the employees have clear guidelines on how they should behave towards one another in the workplace, there are few misunderstandings and, subsequently, fewer lawsuits. Diversity training reinforces the policies that are already in place to protect employees and the company.
Increased Job Satisfaction: When diversity training is successful, individuals are happier with their jobs. The training helps them to understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from their peers and supervisors. During diversity training, people get to ask question and discuss their concerns. Along with this knowledge and the feeling of being heard, people have a better understanding of the workplace environment
and their role in it. This job satisfaction leads to a higher retention rate. Content employees are less likely to quit and look for new jobs. Employees happy in their jobs are more motivated and are more productive. These improved attitudes help the company as a whole to run more efficiently.
More Diverse Workplace: Diversity training points out how alike people are, even if on the surface, they seem different. This knowledge leads to hiring managers and human resources personnel being more open to hiring people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Having a more diverse workplace makes the work place a more interesting environment. The training also unifies people with diverse backgrounds around a common goal. With proper training, a diversified workplace has everyone working together as a team to help the company succeed and grow.
Disadvantages of Diversity Training
Hiring Manager Authority: In the name of increasing workplace diversity, employers may feel pressured to recruit applicants from diverse groups. Many hiring managers believe that employer edicts concerning increasing diversity require them to overlook more suitably qualified applicants in favor of applicants who bring diversity — not necessarily talent — to the organization. In these circumstances, hiring managers may begin to resent how increasing workplace diversity affects their ability to exercise independent judgment, as well as their authority in making hiring decisions.
Workplace Relationships: Employees who realize the company’s goal is to increase diversity may feel they are less important if they don’t represent the typical diverse populations that focus on race, sex, national origin, age and disability. In a workplace where employees don’t belong to diverse populations, these employees may feel undervalued and unappreciated based purely on the fact that they don’t represent diversity. They also might believe that employees from diverse groups have more opportunities for advancement, thus disrupting the working relationships they once had with colleagues and co-workers.
Myriad Accommodations: Although the premise of workplace diversity is mutual respect, making accommodations for numerous diverse groups’ demands can become burdensome on employers, making diversity management difficult. Employee requests and work constraints based on religion, national origin, gender and race can become overwhelming if your workplace has so much diversity that it takes a full-time human resources staff member just to keep track of accommodating the needs of diverse groups in the workplace. Examples of accommodating numerous diverse populations include translating materials into multiple languages and having interpreters on hand for meetings with employees, accommodating employee absences due to religious practices or disabilities, as well as adjusting business hours to coincide with preferred schedules for employees with different work styles and personal obligations.
Diversity Training at Infosys
A global company must reflect the diversity of the world it serves. Their employees represent the widest possible variety of nationalities, cultures, gender identities, employment histories, and levels of physical ability. They recruit employees from global talent pools and provide paths for professional growth to all members of society. Within such a diverse company, people bring to the workplace contrasting opinions and worldviews. As these people interact, they develop new ideas, methods and perspectives. Infosys recognizes and promotes this power of diversity to drive innovation. Infosys actively fosters inclusivity across business units and company offices. They encourage employees to focus on their commonalities and de-emphasize differences. Inclusivity ultimately makes for more informed and sensitive teams that can serve customers better. Infosys was the first Indian IT company to establish an office for diversity and inclusivity. Their workforce comprises people from 89 nationalities working from 32 countries, with 34.7% women on board and a multi-generational representation. Talent diversity is the key to propel their business growth engines and sustain momentum. Employee resource groups
They work towards increasing employee motivation, their ability to
collaborate and innovate with internal as well as external stakeholders and to have a positive business impact on their business success through various diversity and inclusivity programs. Creating Common Ground
Highlights and educates employees about the values and cultural ethos. The program employs innovative approaches and communication campaigns channelled through live events, their intranet, their corporate TV channel, mailers and posters. Family Matters
Family Matters promotes work-life balance among young parents. It also offers family enrichment programs and workshops, networking opportunities to employees for support and information sharing. IGLU
Infosys Gay Lesbian employees and You (IGLU) creates a safe and respectful work environment for employees from the LGBT community. Awareness programs and exclusive events are held to create awareness and foster inclusion. Ineffability
Ineffability creates a sensitive and inclusive workplace for differently-abled employees. Regular accessibility audits are conducted to ensure that their infrastructure is accessible to differently-abled employees. The World Disability Day is celebrated on all their campuses and policies are enhanced/ changed keeping in mind the special needs of differently-abled employees. IWIN
The Infosys Women’s Inclusivity Network (IWIN), works towards creating a gender-sensitive and inclusive work environment for women employees and develop them for managerial and leadership roles. IWIN partners with gender networks and forums across the globe to benchmark. Samaritans Network
Volunteers trained in barefoot counselling listen, empathize, support and counsel fellow employees and help them cope with life’s challenges, mostly personal in nature. This initiative is a first-of-its-kind in India and is active on their seven campuses and had positive outcomes for over 638 employees.