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For employees in today’s workplace, the words diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are frequently mentioned in conversation, usually in connection with a workshop, class, or training. Since the Great Resignation, more businesses have prioritized their DEI initiatives and strategies, creating a situation where every aspect of the organization benefits.
The move for racial and social justice, along with the aftermath of our recent global pandemic, has highlighted the importance of DEI training and its role in creating a more fair and inclusive workplace. DEI training is a valuable tool to educate, engage, and motivate employees to be more inclusive in their everyday actions in the workplace.
In her recent book, “Bridging the Gap: Reducing Gender Bias in the Workplace,” author Alexandra McGroarty discusses gender bias in the workforce with a personal twist. McGroarty offers insights into the biases we share unconsciously, those we impart on others, and how the pandemic shaped how we view women and other minority demographics in the workforce.
In her book, McGroarty outlines the biases women face at home and work and lays a path to reduce gender bias. This invaluable information is an essential read, from the executive professional to anyone looking to further your understanding of this critical topic.
Why DEI training is important for women and other minorities in the workplace
Creating a diverse and equitable workplace culture is not only the right thing to do; it offers a multitude of benefits for employees, their employers, and their organizations. Much like the Butterfly Effect, when we focus on creating inclusive cultures, the benefits often spread to the communities in which we live.
According to McKinsey & Company’s 2020 Diversity Wins report, diverse companies are more likely to be more profitable. In PwC’s Global Diversity & Inclusion survey, 75 percent of respondents cite DEI programs should be a core value prioritized by organizations. Yet, only 4 percent said they were “…succeeding in key dimensions of successful [DEI initiatives].”
According to McGroarty, ensuring the workplace provides a level playing field for all employees is the challenge.
“The COVID-19 pandemic proved a fact that many women knew for years: we are on the frontlines when it comes to holding society together, keeping the engines running, and keeping the fires under control,” explains McGroarty. “And yet, somehow, the problems we work so hard to overcome — microaggressions, systemic bias, serious pay inequality, and our shouldering the overwhelming burden of stress and responsibility for unpaid and/or unpromotable work — remain stubbornly in place. Putting women in the workplace is not the problem; not putting them on equal footing with their male counterparts is.”
DEI training isn’t only beneficial for women and minorities, however. When implemented properly, it benefits everyone in the workplace, including men.
“Gender equality means a more peaceful, productive, healthier, and wealthier world,” says McGroarty. “Men who accept and promote equitable gender practices are generally healthier and happier, experience fewer mental health issues, and have happier life partners. Societies, where men treat all genders as equal, are more inclusive and peaceful, both inside their borders and in relation to other nations.”
What company executives should take away from DEI training
Most organizational leaders are beginning to understand that attracting and retaining top talent makes sense for their business. As we return to normal and businesses continue competing for qualified employees, positive, healthy company culture is a priority for employees as they decide where to work. Companies that demonstrate this commitment to diversity have a leg up when attracting new employees.
“Gender equity begins with equitable hiring, which means hiring men and women for the same amount of money,” McGroarty explains, “but it also means that once they are there, both men and women are given the same opportunities. Women must be able to occupy an equivalent number of executive, managerial, team, and departmental roles within the company.”
A few of the benefits of DEI training include:
- Helping to grow your company’s talent pool.
- Supporting innovation and organizational acceleration.
- Saving money, leading to a healthier bottom line in the long run.
How to get the most out of DEI training
The decision to make a positive change is just the first step. When it comes to further steps in combating inequality, education is the most powerful tool used throughout DEI training.
According to Edutopia, there are six keys to effective DEI training programs:
1. Differentiation and vertical alignment:
Each company is at a different stage in its equity journey, so it is beneficial to establish a shared language. Start at the beginning with absolute basics, which will serve as a point of reference when more sensitive or complicated topics are addressed.
Equity, and equity training, requires a similar “all-in” model. It sends a healthy message to all of an organization’s faculty, staff, and stakeholders that they are part of the equity journey and are empowered to be leaders in different ways.
3. Open discussions:
Creating space for meaningful, engaging conversations with an expectation of participation can be the most effective method for moving equity efforts forward.
4. Opportunities for reflection:
Effective equity training offers a mirror through which people begin to see and interrogate how they think about and interact with others.
5. Connection to a more prominent strategic plan:
Training should have clearly defined objectives and accountability measures aligned with the company’s DEI plan.
Each company is busy with new initiatives coming down the pike all the time, which means scheduling decisions are always complicated.
The Benefits of DEI in Today’s World
We are still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic and the changes it has brought to our society. As far as how our society is navigating these changes, the Great Resignation and the ripple effects it has had on workplace environments are just the tips of the iceberg.
“Sometimes, it takes a truly dramatic event to bring the truth to light,” says McGroarty. “We do not have to struggle so hard, and we do not have to struggle alone. I am still learning what it means to improve mental health. It is not about a constant state of happiness or complete enlightenment. Mental health does not free us from pain, grief, worries, or bad days; it only reframes our thinking about these struggles so that we can learn from the ones that are out of our control and do something about the ones that are within our control.”
Ultimately, these changes have helped to usher in a new era where we are now beginning to see an increase in empathy and an awareness of the needs of others. “We are all beautiful in our differentness, and our differentness lets us lean on each other in times of need. Someone else’s puzzle piece can complete your picture. That is what diversity and inclusion are all about.”
To learn more about Alexandra McGroarty, her consulting expertise, or how McGroarty & Co. can help your own business achieve its goals, visit www.mcgandcompanyconsulting.com.
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