“To meaningfully prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace is not only the right thing to do—it is a business imperative,” write the authors of a new research report from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, “Improving Workplace Culture Through Evidence-Based Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Practices.”
But diversity, equity, and inclusion encompasses a lot of different practices. So, which DEI practices actually make a difference? According to this study, education/training is one of the key practices cited in the research as a way to counteract workplace experiences of exclusion or inequity.
Survey respondents identified education and training as one of the best ways to boost behaviors like calling out DEI issues when they occur, actively promoting DEI in hiring and promotion practices, and supporting managers in how to address DEI issues on their teams.
Why focus on DEI training now?
In the past year, the researchers say, the combination of the inequalities exposed by the pandemic, an unprecedented global experiment in working from home, and the worldwide push to end systemic racism all combined to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to the forefront. More than ever, businesses are being called on to be more transparent about what they are doing to support DEI, and what impact that support has.
Finding which DEI practices work
The researchers frame negative workplace experiences as “ailments” that can be addressed with specific DEI practices, or “medicines.” For example, what practices best remedy unfair hiring or promotion practices? Which ones do the most to lead employees to have a positive emotional association with their organization?
Based on a survey of 1,628 people about the DEI programs and their effectiveness in their companies, this report offers a wealth of concrete advice on what companies can do specifically to reap the full benefits of DEI programs.
For example, if your organization needs to encourage people to speak up when they see unequal treatment, engage in training about the factors that create a culture of silence, such as fear, embarrassment, or lack of trust in management. Identifying these underlying causes in a public forum like training can remove the barriers to bystander intervention and reporting.