Many businesses have started to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training to help their learners create a more inclusive workplace. Offering DEI training programs is a great step. But it’s also important that your organization’s virtual conferences and training events are inclusive. So, how can you promote DEI at your organization’s next event?
Did you know that one of the main stressors in the workplace is the barriers that prevent participation? It’s hard for learners to focus on DEI training and how they can incorporate it into their practices if they’re struggling to find a way to be included in your next event themselves.
The best way to promote inclusion at your organization’s next virtual training event is to make the event itself inclusive. Here are three tips to help you do just that:
- Prioritize accessibility in your virtual event.
- Plan an inclusive event schedule.
- Create opportunities for attendees to provide feedback.
If you want to train attendees to be more inclusive in their day-to-day work, the initiative has to start with your organization. Let’s get started.
1.) Prioritize Accessibility at Your Next Event
The first step in promoting inclusion at your organization’s next training event is to ensure that all interested attendees can easily participate. Choose a virtual event platform and design your event in a way that eliminates any barriers to participation, including those due to:
- A lack of experience with technology: Choose a virtual event platform that is intuitive to navigate and, if possible, open the event a few days in advance to allow attendees to try it out before the actual start date. Whether the attendee is new to virtual events or simply new to the platform you are using, they won’t miss out on any event material.
- Disabilities: Include closed captioning for attendees that are unable to hear the sound that accompanies presentations. And be mindful of visual design — for example, avoid flashing lights and animations, and ensure text and images are large enough to be read easily.
- Financial capacity: Consider using a pricing model that allows for some variation in ticket pricing, such as a lower base ticket price that can grow as add-on services are included. This helps to ensure attendees can join in some capacity, regardless of their available finances.
Much of this comes down to the virtual event platform that you choose to host your event. This is one of many reasons why it’s imperative to request a demo of the platform you plan on using for your virtual training event prior to investing. Demoing the platform will help you double-check that it’s easily accessible for users before building your event.
2.) Plan An Inclusive Event Schedule
Accessible resources are key to inclusive and equitable training, and your upcoming training event is no exception. This goes beyond the ability to simply access the event and navigate your virtual event platform successfully. Consider how you schedule your event’s sessions and the steps you can take to make those sessions more inclusive. For example:
- Schedule the event for when attendees will be able to participate. If you work for an association, don’t schedule the event during the 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. work day, when your members will be likely be busy with their day jobs. Or, if you’re a corporation planning employee training, don’t schedule the event on the weekend when employees are recuperating from the work week.
- Incorporate breaks in the schedule. During the event itself, avoid having sessions stacked back to back with no breaks in between. Incorporate time for attendees to step away from their computers, grab lunch or even take a quick walk. This will prevent screen fatigue and empower more attendees to stick around for the full event.
- Prioritize the representation of diverse speakers. Aim to incorporate a variety of diverse voices in your speakers and panelists. Doing so will provide a richer experience for attendees and remain in line with your prioritization of inclusivity.
Last but not least, consider providing recordings and transcriptions of event materials after the event itself. This allows attendees that missed a session, for whatever reason, to look over the material they missed and still experience the full value that they signed up for.
3.) Create Opportunities for Attendees to Provide Feedback.
One of the main pillars of inclusivity is the idea of welcoming many voices into a conversation. When hosting an event, make room for all of your attendees’ voices to be heard. These important feedback conversations can both build community and help you create a more inclusive event in the future.
Here are a few ways to empower attendees to provide feedback:
- Create breakout sessions to bring attendees together in an online community and discuss event materials.
- Enable attendees to communicate with one another and your organization directly through live chat.
- Use polls and live Q&As during sessions to empower attendees to interact with speakers and panelists.
- Prepare your team to answer questions in real-time to ensure no attendee inquiries are overlooked.
Of course, as your virtual training events grow, the hassle of facilitating live chat while administering the entire event itself grows as well. This is one area where it’s especially valuable to bring in an eLearning consultant, as they can help you bring your event to life in the virtual sphere and monitor your event platform’s live chat functionality so that nothing falls by the wayside.
If you are planning DEI training events, or any other virtual event, it’s crucial that they are inclusive. The three tips outlined in this article will set you up for success when planning your next virtual or hybrid training event. Good luck!