In real life diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are part of life and blended with all other things in life. It’s kind of like breathing, something we should be doing all the time no matter what activity we’re partaking in.
But with corporate training, it’s not that easy since there’s usually one focused goal. With a course that’s focused on a DEI topic, the goal is to learn about that and how to apply it to a situation. For technical training, the goal is typically something technical which may leave little room for other topics that might not naturally fit.
It’s easy to assume corporate technical training and DEI initiatives simply cannot mix. That may be an issue, though, since society still views engineering and technology-related fields as male-dominated. That’s not very diverse, equal, or inclusive!
Then some believe that bringing the two together would be counterintuitive, if not unhelpful for the profession as a whole. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though. When companies take the time to weave DEI topics into technical training it’s better for everyone.
There’s no reason elements of DEI can’t be sprinkled into technical training to make it better for everyone. The reality is that having diversity and inclusion initiatives as part of a technical curriculum can help create a culture of belonging, respect, and understanding. Not to mention less male domination in technology and engineering which is never a bad thing.
This leads to innovative ideas and an overall improvement in the quality of products and services. Variety is the spice of life after all. In this post, we’ll explore the conversation around the integration of DEI into technical training and maybe throw in some ideas of how you can do it.
We will examine the cultural implications, the benefits of implementing such initiatives, and the best practices for implementation. By breaking down the barriers between technical and diversity education, companies can create a safer, more productive environment for everyone.
What Is DEI Training?
DEI training, or diversity, equity, and inclusion training, is training designed to educate individuals on the importance of creating an inclusive and equitable workplace. It aims to address biases, promote understanding and empathy, and create a culture that values diversity in all its forms.
You might prefer to watch a quick video that describes what DEI is a little better than I ever could. This is in a general sense and the training is focused on helping people work better with others, enable more diversity, and all around learn to work with people better to not be a jerk.
The goal of DEI training is to foster an environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and included. It involves teaching employees about different cultures, identities, and perspectives to promote empathy and understanding. DEI training also helps organizations identify and address systemic barriers that may prevent certain groups from fully participating in the workplace.
DEI training can cover a wide range of topics including unconscious bias, microaggressions, privilege, allyship, inclusive language, and creating inclusive policies. Now it’s time to take a look at how it’s possible to integrate DEI into technical training. Or is it?
How Can You Integrate DEI Into Corporate Technical Training?
Integrating DEI into corporate technical training requires a thoughtful approach that considers the unique needs of both the technical topic and DEI topics that may be an issue in that topic.
Here are some strategies for integrating DEI into corporate technical training:
- Incorporate diverse perspectives and examples in the training materials and scenarios to reflect the experiences and contributions of different groups.
- Include DEI considerations in technical projects and assignments, encouraging employees to think about how their work can positively impact diverse user groups. This could even be positively impacting those with a disability.
- Collaborate with employee resource groups or affinity networks to get ideas on how you can make technical training more inclusive.
- Foster a culture of open dialogue and respectful communication during training sessions, allowing for anyone to participate equally instead of just being a man’s club which tends to happen with technology topics (I should know).
One easy place to start is where it’s easy to start with all training content and use a diverse cast of characters that allows for more diverse training. That’s only a start, though, so keep going from there to foster a more inclusive environment in technology.
Potential Benefits of Integrating DEI into Corporate Technical Training
Just like any other type of DEI training, integrating it into corporate technical training can have many equally impactful benefits. It may be more beneficial because of who typically worked with technology in the past.
The integration of DEI into technical training can bring about several benefits for both individuals and organizations. Here are some potential benefits:
- Enhanced creativity and innovation: By integrating DEI principles into technical training, companies can foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce. This diversity brings together individuals with different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, which can spark creativity and drive innovation within the organization.
- Improved problem-solving and decision-making: Technical training programs that prioritize DEI help employees develop critical thinking skills by exposing them to a wide range of perspectives. This exposure enables them to approach problems and make decisions from multiple angles, leading to more effective problem-solving and decision-making processes.
- Increased employee engagement and retention: When employees feel valued and included in the workplace, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. Integrating DEI into technical training demonstrates a commitment to creating an inclusive environment, which can boost employee morale and job satisfaction. This, in turn, can lead to increased employee retention rates.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction: In today’s diverse marketplace, customers expect companies to understand and cater to their unique needs and preferences. Technical training that incorporates DEI principles helps employees develop cultural competence and empathy, allowing them to better understand and serve a diverse customer base. This ultimately leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty. I couldn’t think of anything worse than a help desk tech making a joke about women and technology.
- Competitive advantage: Companies that prioritize DEI in their technical training gain a competitive edge by attracting top talent from diverse backgrounds. A diverse workforce brings together a wide range of skills, perspectives, and experiences, which can lead to increased innovation and adaptability.
- Stronger company reputation: Organizations that integrate DEI into their technical training programs demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility and inclusivity. This commitment enhances their reputation as an employer of choice and fosters positive relationships with customers, partners, and the community at large. A strong company reputation not only attracts top talent but also opens doors for collaboration and business opportunities.
By integrating DEI principles into technical training, companies are sure to recognize one or more of these benefits. That and it’s never a bad thing to create a more inclusive, innovative, and successful environment for all employees.
Maybe some will grumble but that’s okay, things will ultimately be a lot better for everyone.
Arguments Against Integrating DEI into Corporate Technical Training
While there are many arguments in favor of integrating DEI into corporate technical training, there are also some concerns raised by critics. Not all of them are valid and surely some don’t like anything to change just because they don’t like change.
Time change, though, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that, just look at the speed of technology change and how we do things at work. Twenty years ago we were all standing around a copy machine. It’s rare that anyone makes copies anymore.
But I digress.
Here are a few common arguments against DEI in technical training:
- It adds unnecessary complexity: Some argue that integrating DEI into technical training programs can make them more complex and time-consuming to create. They believe that technical training should focus solely on developing the required skills and knowledge and introducing DEI topics may divert attention away from the core objectives.
- Lack of expertise: It could be argued that those creating technical training may not possess the necessary expertise or background in DEI topics. Attempting to address these issues without proper training or qualifications could lead to misinterpretation or ineffective implementation of DEI principles.
- Potential resistance from employees: There is a concern that some employees may resist or feel uncomfortable with discussions around DEI topics. This resistance could stem from personal beliefs, cultural differences, or a perception that these topics are not relevant to their technical training goals. It could be argued that it may be counterproductive to force DEI into technical training if employees are not receptive. Then there’s also the misinterpretation that DEI is a political issue and that companies who enable it are wading into political battles.
- Time constraints: Integrating DEI into technical training may require additional time and resources, which can be a challenge when technical training is already fast-paced and can be out of date quickly. Limited time available for technical training should be maximized for building technical skills rather than diversifying the curriculum.
- Dilution of content: Integrating DEI topics into technical training could dilute the focus on core technical concepts. Diverting attention to DEI, technical training programs may lose their effectiveness in preparing employees in dealing with technical aspects of their job.
It’s important to note that these arguments against integrating DEI into technical training are not representative of all viewpoints. The discussion around this topic is multifaceted, and there are also strong arguments in favor of incorporating DEI principles into technical training programs.
Just don’t fall for everything some say criticizing it as fact. Just because people say the topic is political doesn’t make it political. Just like all things that’s either misinformation, lack of education, deliberate manipulation, or maybe all of the above.
Does It Make Sense To Integrate DEI Into Corporate Technical Training?
The question of whether it makes sense to integrate DEI into technical training is subjective and depends on the goals and values of the organization and the topic being trained. However, real-world examples suggest that integrating DEI into all training (including technical) can and does have numerous benefits.
By incorporating DEI principles and topics into corporate technical training, organizations can create a more inclusive and equitable environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and employee engagement. It helps break down barriers and biases, leading to numerous benefits.
Furthermore, integrating DEI into technical training aligns with the changing demographics of the workforce and prepares employees for a diverse global marketplace. It equips them with the skills needed to navigate diverse teams and engage with coworkers and customers from different backgrounds.
Finding a Balance When Incorporating DEI Into Corporate Technical Training
While integrating DEI into corporate technical training has its benefits, it’s important to find a balance that ensures both technical skills development and diversity are adequately addressed where relevant and possible.
Here are some tips for finding that balance:
- Foster an inclusive learning environment by incorporating diverse perspectives and experiences into the training materials and examples.
- Ensure that the training content practices diversity, equity, and inclusion, such as unconscious bias, cultural competency, and inclusive language.
- Offer opportunities for participants to engage in open discussions and share their own experiences and perspectives related to DEI if that’s an opportunity with the type of training.
- Encourage ongoing learning and development by offering follow-up resources, workshops, or mentoring programs specifically focused on DEI for technical topics.
However you can find to incorporate DEI into corporate technical training, no matter how small, can have a tremendous benefit. It only takes small actions to make an impact and help change attitudes as well as make people feel more comfortable.
Integrating DEI into corporate technical training can have a positive impact on individuals, organizations, and society as a whole. It promotes inclusivity, innovation, and better decision-making that doesn’t leave anyone out. While there may be arguments against integration, the benefits outweigh the concerns.
As the world becomes more diverse and interconnected, it is essential for corporate technical training to adapt and prepare employees for the realities of a global workforce. By integrating DEI principles into technical training, we can create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.
In all training we build, technical or not, it’s important to us that it’s as inclusive as possible. If you’d like to work with us then schedule a free consultation and we can work with you to see if it’s possible to integrate DEI topics into your technical training.