3. Active learning is always more effective
Passive diversity training that simply requires participants to watch videos or read materials doesn’t have the same long-lasting impact as courses that require students to actively engage with the course materials. This is obvious to anyone who has ever sat through a dry, dull training on any subject, but team members respond better to D&I training when it uses multiple methods of instruction.
In addition to training videos or lectures, your courses should include the opportunity for participants to test and expand their knowledge through discussions, role-playing, or other exercises.
Here are some active-learning techniques that have proved to be effective in diversity training:
Perspective-taking challenges individuals to put themselves in the shoes of an individual in a marginalized group. In this simple exercise, individuals write one or two paragraphs from the perspective of the target group, detailing the challenges that group faces. Have them consider social, economic, and cultural factors that might affect the target group’s behaviors and opportunities.
Studies show that perspective-taking can spark empathy and improve participants’ behavior not just toward the target group but also toward all marginalized groups. Students who underwent a perspective-taking exercise from the point of view of an LGBT individual ultimately felt more empathy for racial minorities and vice versa.
Ask participants to set realistic, measurable goals related to their own behavior and attitudes around diversity in the workplace. These goals should be treated like any other KPI: measurable, challenging, but attainable. For example:
- I will join a mentorship program to help mentor a minority individual in my industry.
- I will help develop a color-blind hiring process.
Diversity-related goal setting helps modify employees’ actions, changes their attitudes, and has been proved to improve employee behaviors in both the short and long term. In one study, participants maintained their improved pro-diversity attitudes eight months after training.
Collaborative learning can give your team better retention, enhanced perspectives, and group accountability. Take advantage of these benefits by giving team members the opportunity to learn not only together but also from each other during diversity training.
Incorporate group discussions, employee-led training sessions, and perspective-sharing into your courses. For example, invite team members to share their personal experiences and perspectives on diversity in the workplace. (This exercise should be voluntary; nobody should be forced to share if they are uncomfortable).
Collaborative learning has been shown to enhance participants’ openness to diversity by giving them the chance to interact with people with different backgrounds and perspectives meaningfully. As they move forward with their jobs, the shared training experience provides a new level of accountability toward maintaining the standards set forth during training.
Related: 4 Benefits Of Collaborative Learning, Backed By Science & Psychology