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Create a Welcoming Space for Your Next Training

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Tue Apr 14 2020

Create a Welcoming Space for Your Next Training
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For individuals to learn best, they must feel comfortable in their learning environment. There are many things a trainer can do to facilitate a place—in person or virtually—where learners can focus on the content rather than extraneous issues. In “Prioritize Inclusivity in Your Training Sessions,” Eliza Blanchard offers guidance for trainers to ask the right questions before a course, give their learners the right information during the event, and reflect appropriately after the event.

What Does Inclusivity Look Like?

When considering inclusivity for your training event, it’s important to consider the culture in which you will be facilitating. While diversity is expanding worldwide, there are different levels of acceptance depending on the culture—for example, relative to LGTBQ+, or lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, questioning (or queer), and other sexual self-identifiers. “Avoid efforts to create an inclusive environment that only backfire because those intentions do not match with accepted cultural norms in your current location,” writes Blanchard.

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In addition to being inclusive of sexual orientation, it’s important to be inclusive when it comes to religion, age, and disability (or, as it is sometimes called, differently able), for example.

Making Room for Inclusivity

Consider these actions a trainer can take before, during, and after a training session.

Before

To ensure you are considering all religious beliefs, consult an inclusive calendar when you are scheduling a training. Outlook and Google have such calendars; there are also calendars available online—some will be free; some will have a modest cost.

A second tip is to check accommodations at the facility where you will be training. Is there a room for any nursing mothers you may have in your group? A space for those who want to pray during the day? A restroom that is accessible for those with mobility restrictions?

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Trainers can also help learners feel included early by asking about their needs. If meals will be offered during the training, will you be able to serve meals for all participants—accommodating those who wish or require vegan or halal foods or those with food allergies? Do any participants have mobility restrictions that may affect the activities you have scheduled?

Asking learners ahead of time can help you better prepare. Sending out an email with an explanation of why you’re asking questions about participant needs can benefit trainers and learners.

During

To follow through on the answers you received in response to your earlier email, ensure that meals are properly labeled so participants can enjoy their food safely and with confidence. Explain where nursing rooms, prayer spaces, and accessible restrooms are (including ones that are unisex).

Keep in mind any unconscious bias you may have. Are men dominating the conversation, either by your asking questions of them or because you’re allowing them to talk over female participants? Are you gearing technology questions toward younger learners or using examples that may include stereotypes? If, despite your best efforts, you use terminology that may be offensive to certain learners, apologize authentically and modify your language accordingly.

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A trainer may not feel that she needs a microphone, but she may unknowingly be disadvantaging learners who have a hearing loss. Are you providing a welcoming environment for learners who may not be native speakers? You can do so by keeping your language simple, using print handouts, and giving learners multiple ways to respond to questions.

After

Were you able to provide a warm, inclusive environment for your learners? Reflect on what went well and what may not have gone so well.

Did you have a plan B activity if you found a learner had limited mobility, didn’t understand the exercise because of a language barrier, or wasn’t comfortable with the exercise because of cultural taboos? Did you notice that there were dominant personalities that you didn’t address? Were there appropriate food choices? Learn from your training session and incorporate best practices into future sessions. Use a checklist so you remember all the details.

Blanchard closes her issue of TD at Work with this reminder: “Remember that the work required to create an inclusive learning environment comes with tremendous rewards. Learners who may not otherwise have been able to participate fully in a training session can acquire the knowledge and skills they need for their jobs while also feeling respected and included.”

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