Leading a learning organization means preparing learning strategy to support the needs of the business. With the recent calls to action for organizations to be more transparent and effective in their diversity strategy, many have tapped learning and development (L&D) to be a major leader in creating more inclusive environments through learning. Although learning and development isn’t the only option to move the needle on diversity and inclusion efforts, it can support the process from an engagement and education angle.

Here are five must-haves for every learning and development department to have in its arsenal of support for a diversity strategy:

1. Diversity Training

The course catalog should have training available for the core diversity topics, such as unconscious bias, allyship, microaggressions, anti-racism, cultural sensitivity and diversity for hiring managers. Offering these topics in a variety of modalities will ensure the greatest reach. Consider hiring experienced contractors to assist if your organization doesn’t have any reputable instructors available internally. These courses can bring up emotional and psychological challenges that skilled instructors will know how to facilitate with ease.

2. Leadership Development Programs

Creating pipelines through education, mentorship and coaching can be the game-changer for people from underrepresented groups who are interested in leadership positions. Historically, specific offerings like women’s leadership programs, programs for women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), or bridge programs from middle management to a director or C-suite position can provide a rich pipeline of talent over the long run.

3. Facilitated Discussions

Using team building as a means to increase inclusivity can be a soft landing for new or uncomfortable relationships and conversations. Facilitated discussions can increase employee engagement after social and emotional events and provide a sense of inclusiveness and belonging to the workforce. Furthermore, change and/or crisis management are key to reimagining L&D skills in new ways.

4. Employee Resource Group Roundtables

L&D can support employee resource groups (ERGs) by hosting roundtables and creating marketing campaigns to provide open and inclusive conversations about current events, business processes and innovating for the future. When all employees have an opportunity to discuss ways forward with ERG leaders, it creates an environment of togetherness. Championing ERG efforts through learning enables organic, grassroots and informal outreach and education.

5. Succession Planning Support

Providing training is one thing, but supporting a leadership pipeline of diverse individuals is another entirely. Supporting an inclusive succession plan creates a pipeline of highly trained and qualified employees at every level. By closing competency gaps through structured training, L&D can prepare and develop employees and help them access equitable opportunities.

With these options available to employees, learning leaders will have the core structure to support any large- or small-scale diversity strategy. Remember, when looking for contractors to boost learning objectives, L&D leaders can also support diversity by ensuring they seek out underrepresented contractors and small businesses that are led by minority, women or veteran owners. The support of underrepresented businesses can be a great way to highlight the organization’s focus on internal and external strategies to uplift diversity in an actionable way.

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