As our economic conditions evolve so does the role of the training manager. The ongoing COVID crisis, coupled with the recent social unrest, has not only overwhelmed our global economy but also altered the work agenda of learning and development (L&D) professionals. At the core of both issues is a reoccurring theme that continues to rise across issues, industries and organizations — the absence of inclusivity and equality. Examples of this inequality can be seen in our healthcare systems, as we continue to witness disparities in resources and COVID-related deaths among the African-American and Latinx communities.

Organizations must be more strategic and intentional in supporting employees across levels and backgrounds. This support should extend beyond job performance to overall employee wellness. In an effort to simplify what some consider a complicated agenda, training managers should consider the following:

Consider the Design of Your Training

One of the major challenges of building an equitable workforce is in diversity of thought. We inherently bring so much of ourselves into our professional lives that it is almost impossible to separate the two without adequate training. At minimum, training around equity and inclusion should generate a level of awareness about issues and experiences that may be unfamiliar to the audience. At best, it should include these five elements:

  • Purpose: Purpose supports why a particular skill should be part of a leader’s arsenal.
  • Benefit: Learners who can clearly see how a skill will positively impact their work performance are more likely to engage.
  • Skill Execution: Skill execution represents the “how to” of a learner’s ability to apply learning. Execution should be thoroughly explained to those expected to perform.
  • Challenges: Consider both the internal (e.g., biased thinking or lack of experience) and external (e.g., environment or work culture) challenges of learners.
  • Measurement: Measurement helps support return on investment and sustained learning transfer.

Consider Your Organization’s Talent DNA

The demographic make-up of an organization can help or hinder equity and inclusion. If the population of minority populations is low so will the consideration of resources. While geographical barriers may exist that make it difficult to recruit diverse talent locally, many in the diverse talent pool are ready and willing to relocate for organizations that are intentional about creating truly inclusive workplaces. Training managers can help execute tactics that ensure career opportunities are available to all candidates. This might require accommodations for audiences who need additional training or sponsorship.

Consider the Realities of Every Employee

Empathy and humanity are lacking in the foundations of many organizations. While some leaders admit these play critical roles in diversity and inclusion and employee well-being, they may also admit that modeling these behaviors on a consistent basis is not always top of mind. Training managers have an opportunity to build meaningful connections with learners. Learners feel connected to trainers who display vulnerability, empathy and humanity in their delivery, making them more willing to share their experiences. This powerful exchange might serve as the missing ingredient in bridging gaps in workplace equity.

Training managers have long leveraged their skills and expertise to assist organizational leaders in their roles. As we strive to create lasting solutions to an array of issues, let us not forget the unsung heroes – whose timely adaptability and agility have often saved the day.