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Aligning Diversity Training With Business Needs


Thu Nov 21 2019

Aligning Diversity Training With Business Needs

We all know that many companies are in the midst of transforming their enterprises as they respond to the digital revolution, to new generations in their workforce, and to the rapidly evolving demands of consumers. Fortunately, in such companies, L&D professionals often have access to leaders across their organizations due to their work affecting all levels of employees who span departments. If L&D professionals possess a strong track record of collaborating with these business leaders to drive success, produce valuable data and reports on a consistent basis, and are known as fair, open, and understanding team players, there are numerous ways they can maximize these relationships outside of their curriculum requirements.

One such opportunity is partnering with employee resource groups (ERGs). In most organizations, employees have diverse interests and backgrounds, and ERGs bring common interests together to create an inclusive workplace aligned with the organization’s mission and values. These voluntary, employee-led groups often help drive engagement, talent development, and business performance; provide development opportunities, peer mentoring, and networking; and work within corporate partnerships that extend companies’ reaches for recruitment and to help keep a diverse, engaged workforce. During the past 25 years or more, ERGs (also known as business resource groups) have evolved to play greater roles in driving their businesses forward, meeting important community needs, and facilitating increases in employee recruiting and retention rates.


As noted in a 2018 article in the Small Business Chronicle, a diverse workforce helps expand a company’s customer base, in part by finding small market niches that would otherwise be overlooked. And as noted in a recent Fortune article, the positive impact of diversity and inclusion has been proven time and again: “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” It’s quite clear that ERGs are learning better ways to align with their companies’ needs.

ERGs in healthcare-related organizations have unique opportunities to address patient needs. With that in mind, I started an ERG called Prism, at EmblemHealth, a regional health plan based in New York City, and our affiliate, AdvantageCare Physicians, a provider practice with medical offices across New York City and Long Island. Working with medical practice administrators, compliance, and our electronic medical records team, Prism developed a series of live training sessions for our clinical providers on culturally competent care for transgender patients in accordance with corporate, city, state, and federal requirements and regulatory guidance. We’ve created online case study tutorials for all our employees as a result of these training sessions, awarding small prizes to those who’ve answered the case study questions correctly. We’ve also followed national guidance and best practices in updating our electronic medical records systems to fully support quality care of our transgender patients through a series of checklists, data fields, pop-up screens, and clinical guidelines.

The demand across our practice for these in-person training sessions has been great, and we’re discussing how to build on these foundation sessions for 2020 and how to provide additional online training content and access to best-in-class resources. In addition, Prism will look to partner with all our ERGs next year in identifying other needs across our enterprise and in the communities we serve, and provide culturally competent education and training opportunities to meet the most important needs.

This example is just one illustration of how L&D professionals can collaborate with employee resource groups across the organization to build a better workforce that meets the ever-changing needs of communities, customers, patients, members, and of course, its employees. How can you leverage your learning expertise across your organization?

Editor's note: This post is adapted from "Partnering with Employee Resource Groups," published on the Training Industry blog.


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