More businesses than ever are appointing leaders to oversee diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts for their organizations. In fact, DEI has added another letter “A” for Accessibility to ensure that those who need access get it. However, DEIA is not merely a corporate buzz phrase or fleeting leadership trend — it’s now a movement.
It stands as an essential foundation upon which strong organizational cultures must be built — plus it’s not just about doing the right thing, it makes good business sense. Accenture’s new report “The Disability Inclusion Imperative,” published in November 2023, shows that companies leading the drive to systematize disability inclusion financially outperform peer organizations. The proof is in the numbers: 1.6x more revenue, 2.6x more net income, and 2x more economic profit. That is a win-win by any measure.
To see that kind of return means more than lip service. To build a workplace that can benefit from DEIA, the foundation must be built strong and taken seriously. Part of the work needed to drive such systematic change is diversity training.
What Exactly Does DEI Stand for & What Is DEI Training?
Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) training serves as a transformative tool that enables employees at all levels to recognize, address, and rectify prejudices or biases that have prevented individuals from underrepresented groups from equally participating in the workforce.
DEIA training teaches businesses to create diverse and inclusive organizations where all individuals, particularly marginalized individuals, are represented fairly, treated properly, given equitable opportunities, and feel a sense of belonging and support.
When done well, DEIA training can effectively foster inclusion within organizations. While the approaches may vary, the ultimate goal remains consistent: fostering empathy and understanding throughout workplaces to ensure that every individual feels valued, respected, and integral to the team.
Video Source: YouTube
By the Numbers
When businesses prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility — and foster a sense of belonging among their employees — they gain a competitive edge over their competitors.
- Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders
- Sales revenue increases 15-fold among companies with high racial diversity
- Companies in the top quartile for executive gender diversity were 25% more likely to generate greater profits
- Racially and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians’ financial returns
- Inclusive teams make better business decisions twice as fast
- Diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets
- More than 3 in 4 job seekers are looking at diversity when deciding whether to accept a job offer
- Improving racial diversity boosts company efficiency
Image Source: NextBigYou
How Diversity Training Drives Lasting Change in the Workplace
DEIA training facilitates better communication among employees with different backgrounds, lifestyles, values, and opinions. By promoting open dialogue and fostering an inclusive environment, employees are encouraged to embrace diverse perspectives and ideas, leading to improved collaboration, higher rates of productivity, and a culture of innovation, resulting in better outcomes for your business.
Creates an Empowered Team
When businesses provide equal access to growth opportunities, they ensure that talent from diverse backgrounds can rise and excel. Empowered employees are more engaged, motivated, and dedicated to their work, contributing to the overall success of the business. Embracing DEIA in the workplace allows you to tap into a diverse pool of talent, harnessing the unique skills and perspectives they bring.
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Empathetic Work Culture
DEIA training programs act as catalysts for change, driving organizations towards a more empathetic culture. By shedding light on unconscious biases and promoting self-reflection, employees gain a heightened awareness of their own preconceptions and assumptions. DEIA training provides a newfound understanding that helps create an environment that values the contributions of all individuals, regardless of their background or identity.
Improved Company Reputation
Prioritizing DEIA in your business practices and promoting it through a training program helps bolster a company’s reputation. Consumers are increasingly conscious of supporting companies with inclusive values. Aligning your company's values with those of your customers builds trust, and can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.
Mitigation of Legal Risks
Comprehensive DEIA training that focuses on topics such as unconscious bias, harassment, and inclusive practices, reduces the likelihood of discriminatory behavior and fosters a respectful work environment. As a result, legal risks are minimized, and employees’ rights and well-being remain protected.
Innovation and Creativity
Diverse teams bring a wealth of unique insights and experiences, resulting in creative problem-solving and fresh approaches to challenges. Embracing diversity and promoting inclusion through DEIA training cultivates a culture of innovation, positioning your business at the forefront of your industry.
Effective Collaboration & Increased Productivity
Through interactive workshops, discussions, and experiential learning, DEIA training participants gain insights into the experiences and challenges faced by individuals from underrepresented groups. During the process, empathy is learned, enabling employees to develop a deeper appreciation for the perspectives, struggles, and contributions of their colleagues. By actively listening and understanding diverse viewpoints, employees can collaborate more effectively, leading to improved teamwork and productivity.
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Building Trust & Strengthening Relationships Between Employees
Creating an inclusive and supportive environment allows organizations to foster both a sense of belonging and psychological safety. DEIA training programs provide a platform for open dialogue, where employees and employers can share their experiences, concerns, and ideas freely. With this type of dialogue encouraged, DEIA training sets the foundation for lasting professional relationships, and motivates individuals to bring their authentic selves to work, thereby paving the way for a safe, harmonious work environment.
5 Corporations with Inspirational DEIA Leaders
Microsoft’s Chief Diversity Officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, spearheads the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion, placing it at the core of the organization's cultural transformation. This commitment not only aligns with McIntyre's extensive expertise as a human resources executive in the technology sector for over 20 years, but is crucial to Microsoft's mission of aiming to empower every individual and organization to achieve more. With a passion for driving business growth through innovative and inclusive people strategies, McIntyre brings invaluable insights and dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment within Microsoft.
Video Source: Microsoft Learn
For the 7th year in a row, T-Mobile has been recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion. Holli Martinez, VP, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at T-Mobile works tirelessly to ensure their workplace, culture, locations, and systems are accessible to everyone. Martinez provides enterprise leadership, strategy, and implementation of diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs. She also drives cross-functional business goals by bringing stakeholders together from all functions of the organization around DEIA initiatives.
Video Source: YouTube
This year, Lowe's Companies, Inc. has earned the honor of being named one of the 2023 Diversityinc Top 50 Companies for Diversity. Erica Crane, a passionate Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Senior Analyst at Lowe’s, and also a Communications Support Leader for Lowe's ABLE Business Resource Group, dedicates her efforts towards improving disability inclusion and accessibility at the company, for both associates and customers. Being a Deaf woman with disabilities, Erica has already made a significant impact at Lowe's, influencing customer experiences, enhancing disability services, driving accessibility initiatives, and promoting diversity programs.
Image Source: HBS Dealer
As the VP of Inclusion and Diversity at Apple, Barbara Whye holds a significant position within the company. She is the leading force behind creating a more inclusive workplace. Her primary focus is to enhance diverse representation across all levels, cultivate an inclusive culture that embraces everyone, and guarantee equitable compensation and equal opportunities for all individuals.
Video Source: YouTube
James Loduca, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer at Nike, assumes a vital position in the organization. James is a compassionate and people-focused leader in the field of human resources, driven by a deep passion for forging a future that is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible for all. As one of the few openly LGBTQ+ Latinx executives, he has devoted his life's work to tackling systemic inequities, empowering underrepresented individuals and communities, and expediting transformative change within leading Fortune 500 companies. James employs an unwaveringly data-driven and business-centric approach to resolving significant and intricate challenges, leveraging his extensive experience spanning over 25 years to develop strategies that foster progress throughout every stage of the employee lifecycle.
Beyond Diversity Training: Strategies for Improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace
Identify and Mitigate Bias
Many employees, leaders, and organizations often don’t know that they are unconsciously promoting an inequitable culture that falls short of being inclusive or diverse. When biases are acknowledged and addressed however, organizations can attract and retain a wider range of talent from diverse backgrounds.
To drive a systemwide change, actively seek to identify biases across all areas from recruitment, hiring, and promotion processes, to ensure that opportunities are distributed fairly, irrespective of factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, or disability.
Image Source: Together Platform
Review and Revise Policies
Once biases have been identified, review and revise organizational policies, procedures, and practices to eliminate any potential barriers such as policies related to promotions, pay equity, parental leave, and accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
When individuals' unique backgrounds, perspectives, and identities are valued and respected, it creates an environment where everyone feels safe, heard, and appreciated. By embracing and respecting differences, businesses can tap into a wealth of varied viewpoints, fueling innovation, creativity, and better problem-solving.
Support Teams to Build Empathetic Relationships
Through training programs, workshops, and team-building activities organizations can encourage active listening, open communication, and empathy-building exercises. Businesses that provide an environment for employees to share their stories, backgrounds, and challenges invite opportunities for teams to support each other and learn from one another to form strong bonds.
Organizations can establish mentorship or sponsorship programs that connect employees from marginalized groups with allies who can provide guidance and support. By encouraging allyship, businesses empower employees to stand up against discrimination, biases, and microaggressions.
Image Source: CompTIA
Collaborate with External Partners
Engage with experts and community groups to gain insights and best practices on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Participate in industry networks and initiatives that promote diversity and share knowledge and resources.
Embracing DEIA Training as an Ongoing Commitment
DEIA training is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. In order for organizations to adapt to evolving diversity challenges, the journey toward inclusivity must be one of continuous education and reinforcement.
By making DEIA training a priority, businesses demonstrate their dedication to creating and maintaining an inclusive work environment that ensures sustainable progress towards a more equitable workplace.
Image Source: Ava
Corporations who partner with innovative technology like Ava, can advance DEIA initiatives by using assistive technology such as live captions. Ava’s captioning solution helps businesses pioneer accessibility — not only for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees, but for ALL individuals — so each and every voice is heard and valued.
When companies embrace innovative technologies, everyone can engage in creating meaningful change to level the playing field.