Sandra Bledsoe

DEI Training: What You Need to Know

DEI training is shorthand for diversity, equity, and inclusion training and aims to improve the way people relate to and interact with others and reduce prejudices in the business. DEI training addresses all the characteristics that make employees, customers, and others who work with the business unique, including their:

  • Gender identities and expression
  • Races and ethnicities
  • Physical and mental abilities and disabilities
  • Religions
  • Cultures, traditions, and languages
  • Ages
  • Sexual orientations
  • Backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and experiences
  • Education
  • Skills and expertise
Image via Flickr by bseegov











DEI training programs are common in businesses across the country. These programs usually teach participants the following:

  • What unconscious bias is and how to recognize and counteract their own unconscious bias
  • Common problems that taint the way people interact with others who are different, such as microaggressions
  • The benefits of inclusivity, diversity, and equity in the workplace and meeting the needs of diverse customers and clients
  • Strategies for making workplaces more diverse, inclusive, and equitable
  • Strategies for preventing discrimination and harassment in the workplace
  • Skills that can make workplaces more inclusive. These skills might include inclusive management strategies, allyship, inclusive recruitment practices, and intervention techniques that can help people correct behavior that goes against DEI practices.

The Importance of DEI Training

DEI training helps your employees become more understanding and compassionate people. Through DEI training, they’ll have their thinking challenged and learn how to deal with the people around them better. Employees who participate in DEI training can become:

  • More aware of their own unconscious bias, cultural competence, and other barriers preventing them from embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • More sensitive to others’ differences and the right and wrong ways to interact with people who are different
  • Motivated to be more accepting of diversity and welcoming to people who are different from them
  • More comfortable with their own diversity and representing it in the workplace

Implementing a DEI training program is a great way to promote inclusivity, equity, and diversity in your business. Creating a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable work culture has many benefits for businesses of all sizes, including:

  • Increasing representation and participation of diverse employees
  • Making employees more engaged, as they feel they can take an active role in shaping corporate culture
  • Boosting employee retention and morale, as employees feel more supported and comfortable being themselves
  • Increasing innovation, team performance, and financial results through the inclusion and acceptance of diverse people and their viewpoints
  • Helping businesses expand and enjoy success in international markets
  • Helping businesses create marketing campaigns that appeal to a diverse customer population
  • Reducing the risk of complaints and lawsuits for discrimination, harassment, and other rights violations

DEI Training Program Best Practices

Despite all the potential benefits of DEI training, many businesses don’t feel they’re getting the most out of their education programs. According to Gartner research, just 36% of DEI leaders believe their business has built a diverse workplace. Only a third of employees think they can help their company’s workplace culture become more inclusive. Click to read more about Gartner’s research in this article.  

Following these best practices can make your DEI training programs more engaging and effective:

Define Your Problems

Defining the problems your business has relating to diversity, equality, and inclusion can help you design a program that addresses your business needs. Collecting data about what is happening in your company can help you identify DEI issues in your business. For example, you may conduct focus groups and issue a diversity and inclusion survey.

Consult Stakeholders in the Training Development Process

Consulting multiple stakeholders when developing your training program helps you collect a range of ideas about how to address the problems you identified. You could speak to people within different levels of your organizations and third-party training providers. Look for training providers who will tailor a DEI training program to your business and its problems for maximum effectiveness.

Link Training to a DEI Strategy

DEI training shouldn’t occur in isolation. Ideally, it should be one element of a more comprehensive DEI strategy. This approach helps your employees understand why the training is relevant and how it fits into your business plan and processes. A DEI strategy helps employees put their knowledge into practice and hone their new skills after training concludes.

Engage the Whole Organization

DEI impacts your entire business, so make sure employees at all levels, from your entry-level workers to business leaders, engage with your training program. This approach makes sure all employees share the same understanding of DEI terms and practices and their importance. Business leaders may undergo additional training addressing how to lead DEI strategies, manage a diverse workforce, and hire the best candidates by overcoming unconscious bias and evaluating all applicants fairly.

Promote Employee Ownership

Employees respond best when they feel they have autonomy in the workforce. Create a training program that promotes their involvement and encourages them to take ownership in creating a more inclusive, diverse, and equal workplace culture.

Explain Why You’re Implementing DEI Training

Employees respond best when they understand why they’re participating in training programs. Be transparent with your employees about problems you’ve noticed in the workplace and how you think training could fix them. Outline what your ideal company culture looks like and the part each member of your team has to play.

Monitor the Results Over Time

After implementing DEI training, you should monitor its effectiveness. Collect data that checks whether your training has addressed the problems you identified. If it has not, consider why you didn’t get the expected results and new tactics for achieving your DEI goals. Monitoring results over time identifies whether your training delivers sustained results. If you notice your company’s commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace waning, you may run a refresher training course.

Share Your Results

Employees appreciate transparency. Share the results of your training efforts over time so your workforce can see their own progress or lack of progress. Seeing results can motivate your employees to continue their efforts or work harder to foster diversity, equality, and inclusion.

Examples of DEI Training Activities

The following activities can make your DEI training more interactive and engaging:

  • Ask participants to brainstorm in a group or write down their thoughts about challenges a marginalized minority group might face.
  • Separate teams into small groups and ask each person to write down the qualities they associate with their identity in one column and the stereotypes and perceptions they don’t fit in another column. The group should then discuss their notes to understand one another better.
  • Ask participants to list some specific, achievable, and measurable personal goals that could help them better advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Lead participants in a “Privilege Walk,” where they step forward if they have certain characteristics or experiences that show their privilege. This exercise helps people understand their own privilege and the challenges others face. This article provides more information about leading a Privilege Walk.

DEI training programs can help your employees recognize their own biases and support one another, your customers, and your business partners better. However, developing a DEI training program that meets best practice guidelines can be challenging. Impactly is here to help, with comprehensive DEI training programs tailored to your small business’s needs. Request a demo by clicking this link to see our training programs in action.