Workplaces have changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the systemic issues that lead to unconscious racial bias remain the same.

Just because teams of employees may be spread throughout the country or even the world in hybrid or remote environments doesn’t absolve business leaders from ensuring their employees are well versed in critical diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) matters and practices. In fact, it could be argued that reinforcing those themes are more important now because in many instances we have replaced personal connections with more impersonal virtual calls.

Implementing DEI training solutions will inevitably lead to more inclusive leadership and ensure that employees feel seen and are more comfortable collaborating. One of the key barriers to addressing unconscious racial bias is the inability, unwillingness or fear to have honest and frank conversations about certain subjects and their impact.

You may hear these questions from your team members:

  • Why does our hiring process seem to reject candidates of color, even though everyone on the hiring team is committed to treating everyone fairly?
  • Why does company leadership lack meaningful representation from women or people of color despite our general workforce being diverse?

You can’t address those questions unless people are willing to talk about what is causing them. And you can’t have that conversation unless people feel comfortable and practiced in talking about DEI in general.

That is why high-quality emotional intelligence learning opportunities for all levels of your workforce is vital. Emotional intelligence can only be taught in scenarios that drive emotional responses. It’s why many companies are turning to virtual and augmented reality (AR and VR) solutions, providing their teams with direct, timely and immersive scenarios that encourage and motivate them to have these tough conversations.

Having a VR or AR solution is vital for your training toolbelt for numerous reasons:

  • It forces people to directly interact in an environment designed to bring forward the cause and impact of unconscious racial bias in the workplace.
  • The technology crafts a full story about the subject’s current situation, allowing participants to practice having difficult conversations without concern for consequence as one experiences in person.
  • It drives a greater emotional response, because you are immersing people with a true-to-life scenario instead of displaying it on a flat screen.

Of course, much of this can also be done by putting teams through real-life scenarios, but those are difficult to scale and almost impossible to take seriously and deliver to remote employees. Not to mention the significant studies that show the effectiveness of learning and training in VR, especially with retention and application. VR training is highly interactive, emotionally engaging and allows the trainee to learn in a simulated and judgment-free environment.

DEI has long been on the C-suite radar and often points out uncomfortable truths in an organization, but the scale of creating these learning opportunities is vital because it is not enough to just have leadership aware of their importance. Once those leaders leave or retire, the learning goes with them. Instead, you need efficient, tangible and scalable training solutions that tackle bias and other negative forces that keep an organization from achieving its DEI goals.

Inclusive leadership that lasts more than one generation is driven by a company-wide attitude and understanding of DEI. It’s driven by making sure all your employees receive access to the same all-star learning opportunities as the C-suite.

As a leader, it’s your job to implement effective, efficient and scalable DEI training programs. Next-gen tools like VR can help cultivate a strategy that encompasses the concerns of both employees and employers, evaluate and implement emerging learning solutions and provide insights on ways in which diverse teams lead to better outputs and increased productivity.

As difficult as it might be to obtain and implement high-quality, company-wide training, once you do, it will lead to a more inclusive learning environment and inclusive leadership. By making DEI training available to your entire company, you are not only signaling your understanding of the true impact of unconscious racial bias, but also how it reflects up and down an organization.