Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: More Than Events and Programs

Written by Steve Lange, Principal Consultant, Explorance.

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There is no doubt that Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) is now a major focus across companies and industries. According to a recent Glassdoor Diversity and Inclusion Workplace survey, 76% of job seekers say a diverse workforce is a crucial factor when evaluating companies and job offers and 46% would not apply to a company where there is lack of diversity among its work force. For Black candidates that number is 41%. And while belief in DEI is high and is indeed a large part of where companies are spending their time, how companies are spending their time varies. Some brag about how DEI is an integral part of their strategy, a few set targets and quotas for DEI-specific outcomes.

Many organizations turn to the age-old “training fixes everything” model and have developed programs and training, often mandatory, that much like most compliance-based training, does little to address the actual problem, which in this case is that DEI is not an event. It’s not necessarily something that can be solved with a once and done training or workshop. DEI is, or should be, part of everything a company does and how it behaves and needs to be integrated into the fabric of an organization. It is how we think about our employees, how we listen to them and ensure that we are creating an environment that promotes the values and behaviors of a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive work environment and culture.

DEI practices, therefore, show up everywhere: Recruiting, Hiring, Onboarding, and yes, in Training and Learning, whether the focus is purely on DEI or not. How employees are trained can promote or undercut DEI values and practices in the way in which we engage students in classes, how they are treated during the learning process, and how they are left feeling about their career and development opportunities with the company. It is within these practices that companies should be collecting data from employees regarding DEI practices and behaviors.

Companies Need DEI Data to Help Define Success and Act on Decisions

In today’s age of Data Driven Decision Making, companies need DEI data much like they do with sales, marketing, and other functions. DEI data is important to our organizations. It helps organizations shift the practices, policies, and behaviors to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment.

However, DEI data is typically gathered periodically, usually as part of an overall engagement strategy, and usually at the enterprise level. As a result, the data is only useful as point-in-time data and does not provide a constant pulse of insights.

What is needed then, is a more continuous stream of data regarding DEI behaviors and values where the data is being collected in the flow of work because it is in everyday work and the company environment and culture where DEI is being practiced (or not). One of the areas for consideration is training.

Learning & Development Is a Goldmine of Opportunity for DEI Data

Collecting DEI data during and after learning makes profound sense logically, strategically, and functionally. No other group touches more employees on a regular basis than Learning & Development. Mature Learning & Development groups evaluate their learners continuously as employees take control of their development and careers with renewed focus on upskilling, reskilling, soft skills, competencies, and behavior change.

The play here is to take advantage of these numerous evaluation opportunities to plant some “golden threads” within learning, not only for DEI-focused training programs, but for all training courses. Organizations can be asking and getting insights on questions such as “Do people feel included,” or “Do they feel that diverse ideas are valued.” Training programs can be linked to “Building an inclusive culture,” and “Creating a more diverse environment.” The answers and insights to these types of questions can then be compared with the larger enterprise level DEI data to see where there are common gaps and opportunities. Imagine being able to look at newly hired employees and seeing how they feel about DEI within your company and then looking at how they feel after being exposed to learning and development opportunities. The options and opportunities with the data are wide open.

As a feedback company, Explorance believes and coaches clients to not only collect and act on data, but also communicate the actions and the results internally. Employees do not just want to be heard, they need to know that the company is listening and acting towards improving. Showing employees there is accountability for outcomes and how the organization is taking steps to achieve the outcomes is a top key success factor.

To that end, with the April 2022 release of Metrics That Matter, you can take advantage of benchmarkable questions related to DEI and start collecting valuable data and deliver insights to how employee learners are reacting to DEI status in your company. MTM will have a focused DEI evaluation form for those specific DEI programs and events, as well as some standard DEI questions that can apply to any training.

The commitment from many companies is there, the accountability and outcomes are missing. Listen (collect data) to your learners. Hear (analyze the data) what employees are saying. Act (recommend and act) on the results.


Learn More About How MTM Can Help Your Organization’s DEI Initiatives

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