ED&I training: getting it right
There is diminishing interest in the kind of ED&I training that has a tendency, through its somewhat ‘dictatorial’ or ‘preachy’ style, to create divisions, rather than educate or change behaviours.
Many organisations are now looking for something a bit different from their diversity and inclusion programmes and initiatives. Something that focuses away from compliance and trendy media topics, and refocuses on what it really takes to include everyone. No easy task!
Here are a few ideas (taken from real life experience) about how to make your ED&I training actually inclusive…
Conflict arising from the polarisation of views
Alongside polarising politics in many countries, a polarising period across the pandemic (masks, lockdowns, home working and jabs being the main points of contention), polarising views on the environment, we have added in somewhat polarising ED&I programmes. We clearly live in polarising times with conflict between individuals and groups seemingly at an all time high! Not ideal if we are wanting good employee morale and great relationships across our organisations
It doesn’t have to be this way though.
A client was somewhat surprised recently when I said my most successful training courses were those where the delegates saw very little of me, the trainer, and instead spent most of their time talking to each other in breakout rooms.
Getting people talking is one of the best ways to achieve real inclusion. The more people know each other, build relationships, and start to learn about each other, the more people will feel included. The role of the trainer, the manager or leader is that of ‘chief nudger’, we have to keep nudging the right behaviours and nudging out the bad behaviours to create the right environment for people to share and talk.
Away from the training environment, I’ve been astonished that so few organisations are investing time and money into team building. Has team building become a dirty word? It appears so. Can we really not give people half a day away from tasks to focus on building relationships? It doesn’t take much to organise a few fun activities, lots of chat, a bit of food and drink … and away they go.
It doesn’t have to be hard work building a strong team. You just have to get your head around the concept that more work will be achieved, quality will be improved, and staff will be happier if you all just stop working for a bit to free up time to build relationships.
Yes, our key piece of advice today is just stop working! 😊
People feel bruised and battered after all that has gone on since 2020, we need to take time to rebuild as ‘pushing through’, in all honesty, appears to be creating a raft of ill will, conflict, endless resignations and a shed load of unhappiness. Not to mention that those poor judges in the employment tribunal really need a break!
The other thing we do, during our ED&I training, is talk about our definition of inclusion:
“Involving and being considerate of as many as you can, as often as you can, without either alienating others or negatively impacting the organisation.”
For inclusion to be sustainable, it can’t be about creating a new kind of uniformity (changing the playing field) or including only those whose views/beliefs are ‘trending’. Sustainable inclusion means including everyone, whilst excluding no one – not even those we might label a dinosaur or ‘out of touch’ or those who have different belief systems to our own.
This definition is about setting expectations that we don’t live in a perfect world and that it’s not possible for everyone to feel fully included all of the time.
That can never be achieved just by the very nature of people – we’re all utterly complex human beings with endlessly changing needs and emotions.
We hope this definition takes the pressure off the shoulders of those who are expected to beautifully crack the nut that is inclusion. It’s never going to perfect. Instead, we need to aim for something better than what we currently have, which we can steadily improve.
Respect is the foundation of an inclusive workplace. If you ask people what they want at work, we don’t often hear, ‘I want to be included’, instead we hear, ‘I want to be listened to’, ‘I want to be heard’, ‘I want to be seen’, ‘I want to be respected for my opinions and experience’, ‘I want to be treated fairly’, ‘I want to work with nice people who share my values’ etc.
Jaluch creates ED&I training around this by focusing on respect in the workplace – as that, in essence, seems to be what most people are saying. We talk about what respect looks like, feels like, how different people define respect, how we can learn to better respect each other, how we feel when we are respected, how we can speak up when we are not respected.
It incorporates learning about the equality act and protected groups, bias, bullying and harassment, being aware of the language we use and sensitivities around language, stepping in when you see something off, speaking up when you’re upset and a whole lot more. It’s about all of us sharing and learning together. No preaching, no telling, no blame game.
And by and large it’s a great course, who doesn’t want to be respected and understand how to be respectful to others? It’s a social skill, a life skill and something of interest to others. We have genuinely never come across any polarising views in a course on respect.
Most rewarding for me, as a trainer, has been the delegates who visibly relax on finding out I’m not there to tell them what to do, how to behave or what to think and who leave the session saying they have learnt a lot and enjoyed themselves. We call that a win/win!
And finally, what does a respectful workplace look like?
- Great communication – at all levels of the organisation.
- Strong relationships – between colleagues, inter team, and customers.
- Continual collaboration leading to effective problem solving and innovation.
- Engaged and included staff leading to reduced turnover and increased productivity.
- Fewer complaints and grievances, less conflict.
- Professional behaviours – with a clear understanding of when banter goes too far.
- Inhouse lawyers and HR teams who worry less (with fewer legal issues coming through!)
- Top end customer service.
- People everywhere, at every level take care – they care for the success of each other and they care for the success of the organisation.
What’s not to like?
Designed to prompt a bit of thinking, share a few ideas, challenge approaches that tick a box but deliver little, we hope you have enjoyed reading this HR Blast.
A few services from Jaluch that may be of interest…
🔎 Team building with a twist – 10 hours of people’s time across four weeks in a surprising, exciting, competitive and thought provoking challenge.
🔎 Got a few stick in the muds? How about trialling our adaptability eLearning that asks some searching questions?
If you want to talk to us about any of the options above, or our full range of ED&I training or eLearning, fill out our training enquiry form and one of the team will get back to you.
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Disclaimer: The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.