Does It Make Sense to Integrate DEI into Corporate Technical Training or Should It Always Be Separate?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are part of life and blended with all other things. It’s like breathing, something we do all the time regardless of the activity we’re partaking in.

But with corporate training, it’s not that easy since there’s usually one focused goal. With a course focused on a DEI topic, the goal is to learn about that and 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 cannot mix. However, that may be an issue since society still views engineering and technology-related fields as male-dominated. That’s not very diverse, equal, or inclusive!

Some believe combining the two would be counterintuitive, if not unhelpful for the profession. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though. When companies take the time to weave DEI topics into technical training, it benefits everyone.

DEI topics can be integrated into technical training when it makes sense.

There is no reason elements of DEI can’t be sprinkled into technical training to improve it for everyone. As part of a technical curriculum, diversity and inclusion initiatives can help create a culture of belonging, respect, and understanding. Not to mention less male domination in technology and engineering, which is never bad.

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 integrating DEI into technical training and offer some ideas about how to do it.

We’ll 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 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 DEI a little better than I could. The training is focused on helping people work better with others, enabling more diversity, and all-around learning to work with people better and not be jerks.

DEI training aims 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 preventing 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 examine integrating 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 potential DEI issues 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 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 using 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 than for other industries because of the typical gender who historically worked in technology.

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 prioritizing DEI help employees develop critical thinking skills by exposing them to various 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’re 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, leads to increased employee retention rates.
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction: Customers expect companies to understand and cater to their unique needs and preferences in today’s diverse marketplace. Technical training incorporating 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 joking about women and technology.
  • Competitive advantage: Companies prioritizing 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 integrating 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. A strong company reputation attracts top talent and opens doors for collaboration and business opportunities.

Because technical training has a human aspect to it, DEI will be beneficial.

Companies will recognize one or more of these benefits by integrating DEI principles into technical training. Creating a more inclusive, innovative, and prosperous environment for all employees is never a bad idea.

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 many arguments favor integrating DEI into corporate technical training, critics raise some concerns. Not all of them are valid, and some people don’t want anything to change just because they don’t like change.

Times change, though, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that. Just look at how fast technology changes 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 about DEI topics. This resistance could stem from personal beliefs, cultural differences, or a perception that these topics are irrelevant to their technical training goals. It could be argued that forcing DEI into technical training may be counterproductive 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. By diverting attention to DEI, technical training programs may lose their effectiveness in preparing employees to deal with the technical aspects of their jobs.

It’s important to note that these arguments against integrating DEI into technical training do not represent all viewpoints. The discussion around this topic is multifaceted, and strong arguments favor 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?

Whether integrating DEI into technical training makes sense is subjective and depends on the organization’s goals and values 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 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 benefits, it is important to find a balance that ensures 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 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 focusing on DEI.

Any way you can incorporate DEI into corporate technical training, no matter how small, can be tremendously beneficial. Small actions can impact attitudes and create a more inclusive environment.

Wrap Up

Integrating DEI into corporate technical training can positively impact individuals, organizations, and society as a whole. It promotes inclusivity, innovation, and better decision-making that doesn’t exclude anyone. While there may be arguments against DEI in technical training, the benefits outweigh the concerns.

As the world becomes more diverse and interconnected, corporate technical training must adapt and prepare employees for the realities of a global workforce. Integrating DEI principles into technical training 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, schedule a free consultation with an inclusive company that integrates DEI into corporate IT training whenever possible.

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