How Diversity & Inclusion Training Can Help Prevent Discrimination and Harassment

In the #MeToo era, organizations are realizing the interrelationship between preventing discrimination and harassment, unconscious bias and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture. A lack of diversity and inclusion is one of the top risk factors for workplace harassment, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported in its Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace.

Given that organizations that value diversity and inclusion are less likely to experience incidents of harassment and discrimination, demand for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) training is on the rise. Here are four ways that training, if it’s well-designed, interactive and relevant to a modern workforce, can be an important part of a holistic approach to preventing workplace harassment and discrimination.

1. Raises awareness. D&I training can deepen employees’ understand of what “diversity” and “inclusion” mean in today’s workplace, and how the concept of D&I and unconscious bias can affect individuals, teams and the organization overall. Diversity is about recognizing and valuing people’s differences and each individual’s unique traits. This encompasses race, gender, age, disability, national origin and other protected classes under federal laws, as well as values, beliefs, experiences and backgrounds. Inclusion is about ensuring that people from diverse backgrounds are involved in the operations and leadership of the organization, and feel part of its culture. By raising awareness of the value of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, D&I training can motivate employees and managers to be aware of their own unconscious biases, while providing tactics on how to overcome them when making business decisions.

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2. Reinforces policies and procedures. D&I training offers organizations the opportunity to regularly communicate and reinforce their harassment and discrimination policies, code of conduct and complaint procedures. Through interactive content and realistic examples, training can show the connection between anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and D&I, and how those policies and procedures apply in day-to-day interactions.

3. Strengthens organizational culture. When incidents of sexual harassment and other forms of harassment and discrimination are left unchecked, organizational culture suffers, along with the ability to attract and retain the best talent, increase customer loyalty and promote a positive image in the marketplace. Aligning your D&I training and initiatives with your culture is an effective way to reinforce shared values and demonstrate to employees that their voices matter, and when they speak up about discrimination and harassment, they will be heard. 

4. Supports leadership’s message. There’s no substitute for the authentic voice of a CEO articulating that a diverse and inclusive workplace is a priority and part of the organization’s mission and core values. Training offers CEOs an opportunity to speak directly to employees and managers about the importance of D&I and the expectation that everyone will participate in the training and be held accountable to maintaining a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.

Whether your workforce is local, regional, national or global, training is an important part of the diversity and inclusion conversation and initiatives to create respectful, harassment-free environments where people feel valued, listened to and empowered to reach their fullest potential.

More: Misconduct and sexual harassment in the staffing industry

Jeffrey Frankel

Jeffrey Frankel
Jeffrey Frankel is VP of marketing for Traliant, a compliance training company.

Jeffrey Frankel

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