DEI is a commonly used abbreviation that stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion:
Organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of DEI strategies and initiatives. One common DEI initiative is DEI training.
The overall goal of DEI training is to help workplaces become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, particularly for employees from underrepresented or historically marginalized communities. Often, DEI development activities and training programs are meant to increase employees’ awareness of inequality and bias, and influence how they behave towards each other. Sometimes DEI training is meant to change institutional policies and practices that perpetuate discrimination or exclusion.
Some common types of DEI training include:
The specific topics included in DEI training will vary based on the type of training being offered, the organization’s goals, and workplace culture. However, some topics that are included in many forms of DEI training are:
DEI training—or any DEI initiative—needs to start with results, and clearly define what success looks like. As with any form of training, DEI training will be successful if an assessment has been conducted, a desired outcome is identified, and the training is designed to increase employees’ knowledge and skillset in ways that will lead to critical behavior changes.
There are also some common DEI training pitfalls that instructional designers should strive to avoid:
In addition, DEI training requires facilitators who have competencies in cultivating curiosity, building community, acknowledging complexity, and exploring topics that are sometimes uncomfortable in a constructive way.
To learn more about designing and facilitating DEI training, see Maria Morukian’s book Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Trainers.
For an in-depth look at how to foster and develop a divers, equitable, and inclusive workforce, see ATD's DEI in Talent Development Certificate.
Training can be an important part of an organization’s DEI strategy. However, training on its own is not a DEI strategy. DEI training will have an impact if it provides employees with knowledge of historical, social, and organizational context related to DEI; establishes a common language or framework related to DEI that can be referenced throughout the organization; and creates the opportunity to practice having conversations related to DEI (such as speaking up when observing a biased action).
However, even the best DEI training won’t be effective if it exists in a vacuum. Organizations need to show their commitment to DEI by making sure that all training, on any topic, is inclusive and accessible to all learners. This means taking steps like using diverse images in PowerPoints and diverse names in case studies. It also means working to ensure that training is accessible for employees with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive disabilities.
A comprehensive DEI strategy should go beyond training and touch on all stages of the talent lifecycle, from hiring to onboarding to succession planning. DEI should be built into initiatives related to knowledge management, career and leadership development, and coaching. DEI initiatives need to be reinforced by what managers and senior leaders do and say, and by the environment they create to help their employees feel included. DEI also needs to be prioritized be CEOs and other C-suite executives who align DEI to strategic business priorities.
Use this checklist to ensure you haven’t overlooked aspects of crafting an inclusive training session. If you already have a training session checklist, consider adding these elements to it.
ATD is the world’s largest association dedicated to those who develop talent in the workplace. We provide world-class professional development resources that equip and empower trainers, instructional designers, and other talent development professionals. We have resources for professionals who design and deliver DEI training, as well as resources that help professionals build DEI into all of their talent development initiatives. Learn more about becoming an ATD member here, and visit ATD’s DEI resources hub here.
For more information, explore these resources:
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