Training forms a central part of a company’s diversity and inclusion strategy but, without careful planning, any positive outcomes may be limited. What should organisations consider when selecting a provider?
Diversity and inclusion (D&I) training won’t be effective without the backing of an organisation’s senior leaders. They have the power to advocate for change, sign-off on the required budget for training, and set KPIs for managers, teams and the company as a whole. Leaders play a critical role in embedding training into the culture of an organisation, and must not only openly commit to the goals of D&I training, but also take every opportunity to authentically champion behaviours and positive reactions to that training, which should include receiving training themselves.
Next, undertake a training needs analysis. In larger organisations this is usually done by learning and development teams. In smaller organisations without similar resources, it is still worth taking the time to systematically identify what types of D&I activity will most benefit the organisation.
Questionnaires, observation, interviews and competitor analysis can be used to gather data on workforce diversity, and how that compares with peer companies, as well as how D&I activity can lead to better financial results. This should be accompanied by data on inclusivity policies and strategies, employees’ lived experience and any examples of discrimination. This kind of scoping exercise should highlight the aims of the learning, what’s driving the need, who the intended audience is and what the key learning points to be achieved are.
With a clear understanding of your organisation’s needs, you’re ready to select what type of training will meet those needs, and who should provide it. The choice of training interventions is vast, with online learning and drama training among the options available. The training provider market is also huge, spanning multinationals, smaller specialists and consultants. So it’s vital to know what kind of training you are looking for and why.
All organisations are different. For example: the entire workforce may need a basic understanding of equality and discrimination that can be delivered digitally; the senior leadership team might need face-to-face highly-customised training; or specific teams could benefit from theatre-based training helping them to see different perspectives.
Once you’ve settled on a provider – or a shortlist of providers – you should then ensure that provider has the skills and experience to deliver what you want. Ask how long they have been delivering this kind of training and to which kinds of companies. Ask whether you can speak to past clients for references – the provider’s willingness to provide client lists could be telling. Find out how the provider is accredited. Trainers must demonstrate their understanding of the equality legal framework – including the Equality Act 2010 – and their ability to create a sensitive training environment.
For example, while any training environment should be inclusive, participants should not feel under pressure to share personal information about themselves or their identities.
Ensure any training provider can demonstrate that they understand your organisation’s objectives and culture, and what your goals for the training are. Hold workshops with key stakeholders in the company prior to rolling out the training to assess it in practice. As with any procurement process, due diligence is vital. Any training providers must have their own equality, diversity and inclusion policy, and they must be able to demonstrate the ways in which their own workforce is diverse and their culture inclusive.
Measuring the success of the training goes beyond recording participant turnout and feedback. Effectiveness should be measured against ongoing D&I targets as a whole and key performance indicators for individuals receiving the training. Overarching targets could be a greater representation of women at senior levels, a better understanding among the workforce of the regulatory context, or more inclusive recruitment practices, for example.
Take time to understand what lessons have been learned, and record them. These could include anything from the success of a particular training format to how inclusive your organisation has become. Ultimately, any training should play a role in helping you achieve overarching, long-term D&I goals.
ICAEW members can access help and advice with setting up D&I training programmes, and selecting providers by emailing us.