By: Keely Witherow
A diverse team is no longer a pipe dream – it’s a pipeline leading to increased innovation and development.
The new generation of diversity and inclusion training is much more than a well-intentioned HR-initiative, it’s getting real results: the 2019 L&D Report from findcourses.com confirms that the fastest-growing companies are 72% more likely to have high diversity in their organization compared to the ones that didn’t see growth last year.
Max Avruch of BCG Digital Ventures credits the impressive success of D&I training to the increased use of multi-model approaches and what he calls “radical inclusion.” According to Avruch, the company’s learning and organizational development specialist, radical inclusion relies on a company culture that embraces diversity in a multitude of ways. Formal training meets a strategy tailored to the specific company’s needs. He explains the overarching goal of D&I training as the following: “It’s the notion of really trying to include everyone and not feeling like there’s the segregation that can easily happen in a work-type community.”
Read on to learn about how other leading companies are implementing comprehensive D&I training programs with great results.
Developing diversity daily
D&I training should be seamlessly incorporated into daily life, and no company takes that more literally than BCG Digital Ventures. Even their employees’ morning constitutionals provide a time for learning about diversity and inclusion. Their initiative highlighting LGBTQ Pride included putting Kinsey scales, or the spectrum of sexual orientation, inside bathroom stalls and encouraging employees to mark where they fall on the scale (anonymously, of course!) “It was a way for us to show diversity on our walls and to show people there is a spectrum around orientation,” says Avruch.
Embracing diversity in a genuine way and making it accessible daily is more likely to foster innovation and development than a hasty PowerPoint presentation.
Small initiatives, big impact
A good D&I program is only as strong as the sum of its parts. It should be multi-pronged, involve more than one delivery method, and be developed over time. Since 1943, the Association of Junior Leagues International has been growing their multifaceted D&I practices into the comprehensive program it is today. According to the VP of Programs, Janine le Sueur: “It is true that a single training or resource cannot solve prejudice.”
Their approach combines online and print resources with in-person conferences, which the company’s Chief Learning Officer JuWon Choi hopes will give “members the confidence to become D&I advocates” themselves. The conference is held three times a year and focuses on topics like microaggressions, unconscious bias, and blind spots. These sessions have proved to be extremely popular.
It’s worth taking a page out of Junior League’s book by implementing intentional, systematic action to make D&I central to all aspects of your organization.
Our differences make us stronger
When you’re tasked with making important decisions, having different cultural voices at the table is an exceptional competitive advantage. As one of the principal pharmaceutical companies with a presence in 120 countries, this is something Merck understands well. “When thinking about our mission, there’s strength in our differences,” says Texanna Reeves, Executive Director of the Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence at Merck.
Having a diverse team is more than wishful thinking at Merck – it’s imperative. Not only do they need to translate medicine packaging into different languages for their customers around the globe, they must also consider how medicine will be perceived culturally. Whether in the lab, in clinical trials, or in the office, diverse perspectives are crucial when you’re in the business of saving lives.
The path to innovation is paved with diversity
Research shows that companies with diverse and inclusive workforces are more innovative and profitable.
Take Bayer for example. They can thank their stellar diversity program for winning The Catalyst Award, which is the highest honor for diversity in the United States. Their Head of U.S. Learning and Talent Development, Karen Bicking, attributes this success to their active promotion of women in the workplace: “We have programs geared toward diversity and inclusion, so we partner with some external organizations to help develop our women leaders.”
Other companies like Ernst & Young are using diversity to set themselves apart from the competition and to spark innovation within the team. Martin Hayter, their Global Assurance Learning Leader describes their workplace culture:
“The team has a global flavor to it. It brings more creativity and higher quality and we know that the content we develop is going to be applicable to different cultures, and to both emerging and mature markets.”
D&I is becoming a global trend. As illustrated by the UK L&D report from findcourses.co.uk, D&I is one of the five training courses most demanded in 2019. Organizations are more aware of the importance of developing these areas because when it comes to D&I training, companies that fall behind will get left behind. If you don’t want your company counted among the 48% who have yet to offer any type of D&I training, there’s no time like the present. Reeves of Merck provides one last piece of advice: “Start small. Really look at where you can get started and then just go ahead and chip away at it!”
By Keely Witherow
About the author
Keely works at FindCourses.com, a search engine dedicated to corporate training and further education. She shares their goal of helping individuals and companies find relevant professional development training in North America and beyond. Connect with her on LinkedIn if you’re also passionate about improving corporate education!