Imagine attending a top-notch, two-day instructor-led training (ILT) program with impactful content at an amazing location with affordable room rates. Now, imagine having to order takeout, because the planners of the training failed to accommodate diet restrictions related to your religion. Imagine speaking English as a second language, and the materials are not available in your first, best language.
The best content in the world can’t make up for those missteps, and you’d likely never attend a training sponsored by that organization again. Fortunately, you can avoid these types of issues by taking time on the front end to plan, consider and accommodate attendees’ diverse needs.
The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion
Think about all the considerations that go into planning training programs, especially multiday programs, from who should attend, where the program should happen, which content it should cover and how much it will cost. With so many decisions to make, it’s easy to forget to address diversity and inclusion (D&I).
These words are often used in concert, but they have different meanings. In their simplest terms, diversity is the “what” (gender, race, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, etc.), and inclusion is the “how” (measure of culture that enables diversity to thrive). Many organizations are making increased efforts around these two areas, because companies with a focus on D&I are reported to experience increased productivity, improved creativity, increased profits, enhanced employee engagement, reduced turnover and many other benefits.
Considering D&I in Instructor-led Training
There are many pre-training considerations that can positively impact both diversity and inclusion. Here are some considerations to work through prior to your live event:
- Dietary needs based on health or religion.
- Nursing mothers’ space.
- Rooming considerations (e.g., age, religion and gender identification).
- Training materials (i.e., diverse images, language).
- Instructor word choices (i.e., pronouns, multicultural scenarios, references and stories that consider audience experiences, and second languages).
- Physical abilities (i.e., room accessibility, including Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and distance between meeting spaces and sleeping spaces; and activities that involve movement).
When deciding how your event will accommodate diverse needs, remember the importance of being able to apply accommodations universally in order to offer discretion. For example, if attendees require specific dietary needs, label all food instead of just the items related to their needs. If a new mom needs to take a break to pump, have the entire group break at that time.
Communication Is Key
Communication is key in successfully navigating this topic. Communicate before the event as much as possible, ask clarifying questions to help determine attendees’ needs and provide deadlines for submitting requests. After you’ve made decisions, send communications to the applicable individuals letting them know the plan. The learners’ minds will be much more at ease when they know their lunch will be as they need it, the bus taking them to the evening event is wheelchair-accessible or they will receive a copy of the materials in their native language.
Your pretraining D&I efforts will encourage representation and participation and enhance learning transfer. Diverse learners need to feel included, represented and encouraged to participate as appropriate, which will, in turn, improve how they absorb and apply their new knowledge. Taking the time to consider and implement these accommodations can make the event planning process more complicated; however, if it leads to better learning outcomes for the attendees, then it is well worth the effort.