Despite the attacks on diversity training that have been debunked by DiversityInc, effective training is critical to creating an inclusive workplace. But not all diversity-training efforts are created equal.
That’s what LaMae Allen deJongh, managing director of U.S. human capital and diversity at Accenture (No. 12 in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity), drove home in her presentation to corporate, government and organizational leaders at DiversityInc’s event.
Taking a deep dive into the fundamentals of diversity learning, deJongh noted that diversity training must be part of a comprehensive program that includes mentoring and must be mandatory. “When we think about how we can raise our game in diversity and inclusion, training is an important component,” says deJongh.
How can you execute an effective diversity-training initiative? Here are six best practices deJongh shared with DiversityInc’s audience:
- Anchor diversity training to the company’s philosophy. At Accenture, that means embedding diversity into all formal instruction, collaborative efforts and on-the-job training. “Rather than have [diversity training] separate and distinct, have it very well integrated into the company,” she says.
- Be intentional and structured. At the global-management consultancy, all associates are told, “‘We expect you to be skilled and have experiences in certain types of capabilities—and inclusion and diversity is one of those,’” says deJongh. The firm’s diversity expectations increase along with promotions, so senior-level executives are most adept at leading and leveraging the strengths of its diverse teams.
- Ensure that the curriculum is inclusive in scope. Beyond training for race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and abilities, the curriculum should include diversity of thought and ideas, advises deJongh.
- Make it real. This is how to keep employees engaged in diversity training so it doesn’t become a check-in-the-box task or, worse, perceived as punitive. To avoid the downsides, don’t brand it as “diversity training,” suggests deJongh, and allow leaders to train other leaders. Themed “instructor-led training is very compelling,” she says, adding that Accenture’s theme this year has been resiliency. “We see resiliency as an attribute that is critical to our women’s ongoing advancement, especially into leadership roles.”
- Set clear learning objectives. Collaborating with the firm’s career-development teams, deJongh has distilled its associate training goals to awareness/education, management and development. “And they take on increasing levels of sophistication,” she explains. “[Accenture's objectives] map to where people are in their careers and the expectations that we have of them.” Doing so also helps the firm identify high potentials.
- Measure what matters. How do you know your diversity training is making a difference? To answer this question, deJongh has begun to use the firm’s annual performance evaluations to track correlations between its diversity training and career-development opportunities. This will help the firm answer such key questions as: Have we increased the number of promotions? Have we closed the gap in attrition? Have we closed the performance gap?