Sandra Bledsoe

Racial Sensitivity Training: Everything You Need to Know

Racial sensitivity training involves dialogue and discussion offered to employees to help them better understand how their words and actions may impact a different race, religious background, gender, or anyone different from them. Understanding the effects of our actions — even those which are inadvertent — can help build a safer, more welcoming workplace for everyone within an organization.

Image via Unsplash by gemmachuatran

Racial sensitivity training aims to help everyone understand how words, actions, and gestures can impact different people around them. The goal is to make employees more conscious of their behaviors to work together to make the workplace a safe place for all employees regardless of race or other characteristics.

Why Do I Need To Offer Racial Sensitivity Training?

Aside from building a better workplace, everyone should be working together to create a better global community. By including racial sensitivity training within an organization, barriers are slowly lifted both in and out of the workplace.

You may think none of your employees need this training, but everyone can benefit from it. Understanding how others see the world and how others experience the same workplace is crucial to eliminating racism in our society and paving the way for equal opportunity.

What Will Employees Gain From Racial Sensitivity Training?

Racial sensitivity training can have several benefits for your team. Discover some examples of how racial sensitivity training can impact the workplace:

  • Allows others to identify harmful behaviors
  • Brings often unspoken issues to light
  • Identifies language which may offend others
  • Helps everyone understand how racial biases affect people
  • Explains what microaggressions are and how they impact others
  • Provides insight into how to identify and correct problematic behaviors

How To Implement Racial Sensitivity Training On an Ongoing Basis

When you host a racial sensitivity training course for employees, you want to continue incorporating racial sensitivity into the workplace in more ways than one. Explore examples of how to build a more racially sensitive environment at work.

Outline Problematic Behavior

Employees should all receive a handbook that identifies inappropriate language and vocabulary that may offend others. This document may outline specific terms, but more importantly, it should define what is unacceptable. Employees should be made well aware that comments on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation are not acceptable in or out of the workplace.

Hire a Diversity Officer

Having an individual or a team your employees can consult to discuss racial intolerance is essential to building a safer working environment for all people. This approach will give everyone a safe space to report any behavior that concerns them. Having a diversity officer or team in the workplace also tells your staff that you care about racial inequality and do your part to combat it. Here is an article that explains why you need a diversity officer in more detail.

Listen To Your Employees

If your employees are reporting harassment at work, listen to them. Do not simply rush them off to HR. Listen to the feelings they are experiencing and follow the appropriate channels to stop the behavior. Turning a blind eye to racism is as bad as racism itself. Instead, take a stand and show your employees you value their feelings so they may feel empowered enough to discuss them with you.

Take the time to ask your employees how they feel about discrimination in the workplace to get their take on it. Here is an article outlining questions to ask your employees.

Build a More Diverse Workplace

Are you looking for new hires? Send out applications or advertisements for your job openings to ethnic communities and educational institutions. Make the system fair by including a diverse group of people in every interview hiring process. Including candidates from various ethnic backgrounds will allow your company to grow and encourage everyone to accept other races in their day-to-day life.

Racial sensitivity training focuses on a few main pillars when it comes to racism in the workplace and in life. Take a look at the following focus points for some insight.

Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

Racial sensitivity training can help teach both employees and employers about diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The idea is to change mindsets and make working environments open to and safe for all people regardless of their background. Training programs like these offerings can help identify weak spots in your company’s racial diversity and inclusion programs and offer solutions to improve them.

Microaggressions: What They Are and How to Stop Them

Understanding what microaggressions are and how they impact various people is a critical part of racial sensitivity training. These repeated acts can cause serious harm or discomfort to many people of different races, religions, genders, or sexual orientations. Racial sensitivity training will explain what microaggressions are and how they affect others, especially in the workplace.

Unconscious Bias

Being unaware of bias and stereotypes is another significant concept to understand. Many racial biases ingrained in us from our upbringing may lead to us being unaware of them or how they impact our lives and the lives of those around us. Understanding what unconscious stereotypes are, identifying them in ourselves, and correcting them is an integral part of racial sensitivity training.

Changing the Mindset

The ultimate goal of racial sensitivity training is to change the mindset of people in your company to foster a more inclusive attitude in all employees. This approach can help pave the way for minority groups to access better jobs and be more comfortable in their working environments. Changing the mindset in the office will impact life outside of the office as well.

Racial sensitivity training aims to make the workplace a more welcoming environment for everyone by breaking down barriers and changing how minorities get viewed and treated. Ideally, you will help your company open the door for equality and justice.

Breaking Down Barriers

Racial sensitivity training doesn’t target individuals you believe are racist. They target all people for the good of all people. Many people may not think of themselves to be racist, and in fact, they aren’t – not intentionally, anyway. However, so many people may be unaware that the stereotypes they have in their minds are very offensive and counterproductive in the workplace.

The training will open up everyone’s eyes to look at themselves and their actions more critically and objectively. The goal, of course, is to help trainees realize where their weak spots are and how to correct them.

Racial sensitivity training is an excellent start, but it’s an ongoing process. To achieve success, you have to work on it continually. Training courses will assess your interactions with minority groups and help you work through any issues that exist. However, both employers and employees must continually work toward improvement. Here is an article explaining why all companies should be including racial sensitivity training in their organizations.

You can’t achieve racial equality overnight. But suppose we continue to put diversity and inclusion at the top of our priority lists. In that case, we are working toward building a better future for all people and the future generations to come. No matter your country of origin, skin color, beliefs, or people you love or with whom you identify, you should have equal opportunity to activities and employment opportunities.


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