Over 60% of U.S. workers say they’ve experienced or witnessed discrimination based on race, gender, age or sexual orientation, and companies must do better to provide a safe, including psychological safe, inclusive environment for all of their people. It starts with leveling up your approach to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). A DEIB program can’t exist as a temporary initiative — it’s imperative to include it as a long-term business investment and function.

While it’s not an end-all solution to discrimination or a lack of belonging, DEIB training educates employees, provides perspective and creates opportunities for discussion. It’s a critical approach to driving lasting organizational change.

Ensure DEIB is Recognized Company-wide

You cannot achieve true organizational change unless everyone from the top down buys in. DEIB efforts have the most impact when everyone from the C-suite to the most junior staff are aligned on why these initiatives and discussions are so critical.

Employee resource and focus groups work well to open dialogue, build employee awareness and become more comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. But these approaches don’t promote direct interaction among all your employees in the same way as a formal training program. Even further, DEIB committees may struggle to maintain consistency across all organizational levels. Instead, true DEIB training brings these smaller discussions to the entire organization, creating a culture of inclusivity and connectedness.

Promote a Culture of Inclusion

Organizational change requires strong processes. Continuous DEIB training can help keep those defined processes in check while establishing a culture of open-mindedness where different opinions and perspectives are encouraged and welcomed.

A more inclusive mindset not only promotes equity, but it also establishes a culture that sustains, supports and champions positive change across your organization. This culture can then create a more productive work environment as your employees are equipped to better communicate and trust each other.

Bring Awareness to Biases

Unconscious bias remains an incredibly challenging workplace issue to address. It’s hard to measure and difficult to eradicate. Even if you genuinely believe in your commitment to equality, you may still carry unconscious biases developed over your lifetime.

While unconscious or implicit bias work can start with training, the real work happens after you learn where your biases exist and how to become more aware of them. This work starts internally, but also outside of the workplace. If you go home and to your community and are in a completely homogeneous environment, then you won’t be aware of your biases and be able to truly commit to DEIB.

Companies can pair bias training sessions with ongoing efforts to adopt new company goals and objectives. You must be willing to question existing structures that might reinforce bias and discriminatory behaviors. An awareness of how unconscious biases affect decision-making at all levels helps your leadership and human resources (HR) teams lay the groundwork for equitable pay, hiring, talent development and retention programs for all employees.

Assess the Impact of DEIB Training

Measuring the impact of DEIB training requires a somewhat patient approach. Why? Because it takes time to build a diverse and inclusive workplace. But even if you don’t have tangible metrics immediately, it’s essential to stay the course.

You can start by tying DEIB training to benchmarks related to:

  • Pay transparency: Does your company share salary ranges in job postings? Compensation bands advance DEIB initiatives because they can lead to more equitable pay. Further, it removes uncomfortable negotiations so candidates can focus more on getting an offer and less on pay bias.
  • Pay equity: Are there pay gaps you need to address, and are they closing over time? To effectively drive change, it’s critical to understand your numbers by conducting compensation reviews.
  • Leadership: Is there proper representation across your organization’s leadership roles? Include the C-suite and the board of directors in your analysis. Right now, Black employees represent a small fraction of top executives. Only 8% of C-suite executives are Black.
  • Talent development and retention: Do your teams offer fair and equitable growth opportunities to members, regardless of gender identity, age, race or other demographics? An organization needs to be held accountable for translating values into performance measurements.

Formulating benchmarks based on DEIB training, reinforces accountability and helps to educate everyone in your organization on how you’re progressing toward your DEIB goals. It also helps cultivate a culture that works toward being more inclusive and welcoming to all people and perspectives.

You’ll want to measure your benchmarks over time to evaluate progress. But tracking training data is a complex process. Centralizing your data using people analytics software makes the measurement easier and keeps all information accessible in one place. You can also merge your data with feedback from your team, which you can gather by:

  • Surveying employees regularly.
  • Compiling information from exit interviews.
  • Creating and managing focus or employee resource groups.

A people analytics solution provides quick snapshots to surface insights, allowing you to visualize what’s working — and what isn’t. In turn, you’ll gain insight into how your diversity training impacts your company’s operations.

Establish a Foundation for True Action

Consistent, intentional DEIB training delivers numerous benefits, the most important being a workforce that works together more effectively because they are treated equitably. It plays an integral part in enhancing cultural awareness, encouraging more innovative thinking, improving problem-solving and elevating decision-making.

Companies committed to improving the diversity of their organizations via DEIB training and development show — through their actions — their commitment to driving progress and growth.

But it’s important to acknowledge that DEIB training is just a starting point. Training alone is not a sufficient solution to a diversity pledge, but it does drive innovation and workplace productivity. If you can catalyze the information learned during training with real action, true, lasting organizational change will become a reality.