Diversity, inclusion, representation and participation of all kinds matter, especially in growing, in-demand careers and roles.
Using a learning management system (LMS) or other learning technologies plays an important role in creating more diverse and inclusive career opportunities. For example, learning platforms can help:
- “Level the playing field” and provide learning materials equitably — which are accessible, inclusive and centrally available.
- Spark learners’ interests, on a one-to-one level, by delivering content, recommendations and journeys that are tailored to learners’ goals, experiences and aptitudes.
- Create a place where individuals can not only learn, but do so together, with people around the world. This ability to connect with others and partake in social learning can be pivotal in creating more opportunities for all learners.
Combatting the Gender Gap
In many technology and data careers, there is a known gender gap. A lot of factors contribute to this disparity, with lack of access to, and awareness of, opportunities being a big factor. A learning platform can help bridge the gap by giving users the ability to learn about and see the opportunities available to them.
At Women in Data, a global non-profit organization focused on increasing diversity in data careers, we’ve seen firsthand the power of making learning more accessible, engaging and community-oriented. We use CYPHER Learning’s platform, MATRIX, to help members of our community connect, grow and lead throughout their data careers.
Learning technology not only supports our organization’s training goals but also serves as a way to embrace our global community and their diverse backgrounds. Each Women in Data member is on their own data career journey. Some may be looking to make a career change; others are trailblazers in their space. With personalized content, driven by automation, we can be responsive to the learning needs, and career and competency goals, of all members and support them throughout their unique journeys.
Most importantly, learning platforms help organizations and non-profits offer a variety of continuing education and professional development resources in one place at a relatively low cost to the individuals they serve. This helps reduce some of the biggest barriers for people seeking out career and education opportunities: access and cost.
For example, our organization offers a six-month, fully remote program, available for free. Members receive support in figuring out their next career steps, goals and priorities, and defining their individual development plans. Other programs, such as for portfolio building and coaching, can be accessed through an affordable yearly subscription.
That’s why it’s important for organizations like us to use a platform that’s flexible — enabling course building, social learning, digital portfolios and learning paths. For organizations that look to monetize content, it’s also important to be able to use the platform to set up membership subscription plans that offer easy access to programs. Our members benefit from learning content and interaction opportunities, as their subscription allows them to access special groups dedicated to networking. Therefore, collaborative tools such as groups are an important part of the reskilling and upskilling process. In addition, more experienced members have the ability to become mentors and coaches, paving the way for them to strengthen their leadership skills and give back to the community.
Women in Data also has a practical skill-building approach, as members learn by doing. Learners can enter a special program to create their own digital portfolios, submit their projects and receive feedback.
The bottom line is, it’s key to use learning technology to make learning accessible and convenient. If certain populations are unable to access learning because they can’t afford it, or they can’t commit the time required to sign up for multiple online courses, they are going to be underrepresented in the career opportunities available. So it’s important to break down these barriers and make it as easy as possible for them to learn.
Additional Ways an LMS Can Drive Inclusion
As mentioned, learning platforms can create clear career pathways for all learners to increase awareness of opportunities and enable people to learn from each other. They also support diversity and inclusion efforts by:
- Accommodating the learning preferences of individuals from all backgrounds.
- Offering flexibility to adapt and grow learning content to meet emerging needs and global trends.
- Allowing for both synchronous and asynchronous learning environments, so users can learn when it’s most convenient for them.
- Enabling both learners and administrators to track progress and measure key performance indicators (KPIs). Learners can set goals and track progress and success in achieving them, which can be extremely valuable in building confidence and self-awareness. And administrators can pinpoint any learning gaps among certain groups or populations, and adjust their approach accordingly.
To create more diverse and inclusive career opportunities, it’s important to begin with accessible and adaptable education and learning environments. Learning technology can help organizations get there.