From foundational learning to inclusive management practices
To be effective, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) starts with creating awareness and establishing a broad understanding of how employees can help cultivate a more inclusive work environment. To get there, they need to see concrete examples and hear from real people who bring to life the idea that DEI has the power to benefit everyone in the organization. That’s why we at Kantola developed our original DEI training, to serve as a crucial foundation for all employees and managers.
And now, we’re putting an extra focus on managers—a primary audience that can make or break DEI success. Our new Inclusive Management series is a follow-up to our foundational training and is designed to equip managers with actionable guidance and practical tools related to specific management practices that can enable them to be a positive force in any DEI effort.
A focus on managers is critical to DEI success
Managers are a critical part of advancing DEI. Why? Because they are a primary organizational conduit, yielding influence in multiple directions—their team, senior leaders and peers. They can either play a crucial role in creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment, or they can become a significant detractor to real progress—the difference is in whether they are empowered with the support they need.
Putting the focus on training your managers to become more inclusive can also improve your employees’ performance and enhance their sense of inclusion. In organizations with managers who put DEI into practice, “employees are 3 times more likely to be high performers, 1.5 times more likely to continue working for their employer and nearly 3 times more likely to feel included.”
- Employees are 3 times more likely to be high performers
- 1.5 times more likely to continue working for their employer
- Nearly 3 times more likely to feel included
Diversity, equity and inclusion: It’s here to stay.
So, why should you take this next step in committing to DEI? Because it’s here to stay. For companies, putting the focus on DEI as a defining part of an organization is no longer an option. In addition to the strong social call for companies to focus on creating more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environments, there are some compelling business reasons as well.
Research shows that diverse and inclusive organizations, when compared to their peers, are 87% more likely to make better decisions and 75% faster at bringing products to market. And studies from Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group, and McKinsey further reinforce the fact that diverse and inclusive organizations outperform others on both profitability and innovation.
Retention and recruitment are significantly impacted as well—80% of employees consider inclusion to be important in choosing an employer and 39% would leave their organization for a more inclusive one.
- consider inclusion to be important in choosing an employer80%
- would leave their organization for a more inclusive one39%
With such benefits to be gained, it’s no surprise that companies are actively showing their commitment to DEI. More than eight in 10 (83%) of U.S. organizations implemented diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in 2021. And nearly all (97%) of those DEI-active organizations have either established a DEI strategy or are actively working on one.
Why is quality training so important? It demonstrates your commitment to DEI.
For many companies, training is often central to their DEI commitments, as it remains one of the most effective ways to create awareness, change perspectives and elevate culture.
But there’s a catch. If companies do not follow through with a demonstrably genuine commitment to their DEI initiatives, the consequences can be severe. Forty percent of employees would consider leaving if they lost trust in a company’s ability to fulfill its DEI commitments and 56% would not recommend it as a place to work to their friends or family.
That means the quality of an initiative like training is paramount in demonstrating your company’s commitment to DEI. It translates like a message you are sending to your employees. An investment in high quality training says, “We have selected the kind of learning that will make a difference.” Or if the training is substandard or even simply adequate, it will say, “We are just going through the motions to make it look like we’re doing something.”
Training for your managers’ practical needs
After grounding their knowledge with foundational DEI training, managers need a continuation of quality training that is tailored to address their specific needs.
- First, they need to understand the big strategic picture behind your DEI initiative.
- They also need tools and guidance to equip them with building an inclusive and equitable work environment where everyone can thrive.
- And those tools must focus on specific inclusive management practices, such as leading teams, making recruiting and hiring decisions, and managing onboarding.
Managers are busy people who can be pulled in multiple directions at the same time. To be effective, they need practical training that is designed to make the best use of their valuable time. That means engaging them with storytelling and relatable scenarios—along with concrete guidance that explores nuanced questions and interactive exercises that closely represent real-life situations.
Consistency, reinforcement and follow-up are essential
Training can produce transformative change, but only if it is conducted regularly (i.e.., annually), with plenty of time for self-reflection and personal discovery. That’s why the Inclusive Management series provides takeaway tools that emphasize key principles and help turn them into real-life practices. Downloadable guides with thought-provoking questions, checklists, tips and visual reminders reinforce learning and help managers make more inclusive choices on a day-to-day basis.
Managers aren’t just an important factor in the DEI equation, they are a pivotal group who can propel or diminish your organization’s DEI progress. But remember, their engagement in your DEI effort can only happen if they have the understanding and knowledge they need to help you succeed. That’s why your focus on them will reap great rewards for everyone in your organization—now and far into the future.