TAG Contributor and Subject Matter Expert - Kari Heistad
Approaching D&I from an Organizational Development perspective also means changing how diversity learning takes place. Companies should build upon their diversity training programs to include the idea of diversity as a continuous education environment. Whereas diversity training is often seen by employees as a short-term program or skill building exercise that is done to them, education is empowering employees to acquire knowledge and skills over the long-term and to integrate that knowledge into their daily interactions.
Amica’s Sam Palmisano, Sr. Assistant Vice President of HR, has witnessed, first hand, the benefits of creating a continuous learning environment. “Our employees are very busy, so we make it a point to be conscious of their schedules when developing content and determining dates for the diversity pro- gram. Spreading out modules over the year keeps employees engaged and reinforces the message that diversity is an ongoing part of our culture and not a one shot deal.”
In addition to traditional instructor lead training, there are many educational tools that can be used on a daily basis to reinforce a culture of inclusiveness, including: manager-led team meetings on diversity topics, online training modules, themed email blasts, newsletter articles, an online diversity portal, international food in the cafeteria, international holiday calendars, etc. In combination with an Organizational Development strategy that supports an inclusive workplace, these tools empower employees to take responsibility in educating themselves about the people that they work with and the customers that they serve. With the richness offered by diversity, there will never be an end point where anyone can say that they have learned it all. Instead, employees will understand that inclusiveness requires lifelong education in understanding differences and learning to build respect across those differences. If diversity training was a push in the right direction, diversity as a continuous education environment becomes a pull towards a workplace that employees want to be part of.
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