This article explores both diversity and sensitivity training. Diversity programs are often a subgroup in sensitivity training, and both are essential to an organization’s success in the long run. Effective sensitivity training can improve workplace culture and can increase harmony in the office and the overall productivity of employees. When people feel safe and supported at work, their loyalty to the company and their colleague’s increases. The first step to fostering such an environment often starts with sensitivity training.
Sensitivity training can be broader than diversity training, but the principle is the same. Sensitivity training aims to help increase empathy among employees in general. Overall, the goal remains to be inclusivity in the workplace, which is underpinned by respect for differences. Diversity training is a type of sensitivity training.
Increasing emotional intelligence and fostering an appreciation for differences in the workplace. Improved collaboration and communication often result from sensitivity training when it is successful.
Although sensitivity training in the workplace can be effective, it is not a magical cure and can only be effective if the audience is open and receptive to it. It also depends significantly on the workplace culture that is in place already and can only be effective for certain workplaces. One way to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome is to tailor professional development programs to meet the needs of respective workplaces.
While the benefits that each team takes away from sensitivity training courses might differ slightly, some of the general benefits might include the following:
Because of the existing differences from one work environment to another, there is no single recipe for implementing regular sensitivity training. Each situation must be approached with a fresh perspective to get the best results.
Each workplace has unique needs when it comes to sensitivity training, and some workplaces might not even need a sensitivity training course to address more minor problems. Before implementing any training program, a needs analysis needs to be done to establish exactly what the office needs and would benefit most from.
Once the needs have been identified, it is easier to create bespoke sensitivity training materials to draw optimal benefit from.
With any training, it is important to get feedback from trainees so that improvements can be made to future programs where necessary.
Diversity and inclusion training is a subgroup of sensitivity training programs that focuses specifically on various types of diversity, why they are important, and places significant emphasis on respect and appreciation for diversity in the workplace.
While the topics that can be covered in diversity and inclusion training are practically endless, some of the more prominent themes are:
Many people might assume that the main focus of a diversity training program will always be related to racial sensitivity, but that is not always the case. Sometimes racial discrimination is not the problem, and in some countries and cultures, there is a greater need for gender sensitivity training. The reality is that even culturally diverse teams can have issues with gender discrimination.
Cultural differences can be quite difficult for some individuals to navigate, and unconscious bias is always a real risk, even in cases where co-workers think they are adequately respecting other cultures. A diversity course can result in a deeper understanding of different cultures and improve diversity awareness where needed in a work environment.
Cultural competence in the workplace also involves sensitivity to different languages, and language discrimination in such a situation is a real risk. In an inclusive work environment, language integration should be an ongoing effort to ensure employee satisfaction, as miscommunication can be a considerably negative experience.
This often involves an actual team culture case and is an integral part of workplace sensitivity training. With laws related to gender and sexual orientation continuously training, cultural sensitivity training, and human resources departments need to remain informed on the latest laws on the matter. A national employment background screening will often include a sweep for any cases of discrimination in a person’s past.
Unconscious bias occurs when a person might feel that they are not biased, but they actually have deeply ingrained biases that they are unaware of. Human diversity is complex, and increased self-awareness can be very important in sustaining an inclusive environment for diverse backgrounds in a workplace.
Maintaining consistent sensitivity standards in an inclusive workplace is important. Conflict management in a diverse team is helpful but a temporary solution, as sensitivity training in the workplace ensures a long-term result. This is also something that needs to be modeled by leadership in a company.
An inclusive environment should always include a safe space for co-workers of different sexual orientations as well. Training in the workplace cannot only focus on cultural awareness and should also address sex and gender biases.
In many places in the world, laws protect workplace diversity, and employees are expected to create and maintain an inclusive environment for their co-workers. As these laws change, management development and training in the workplace on inclusive leadership skills might be required.
In the modern workplace, even online sensitivity training is common, and diversity training sessions are often recurring and form part of the company’s normal operating procedure. Diversity and inclusion are becoming evermore important. In cases where sensitive training in the workplace is required, it is best to first establish what kind of sensitivity training program is needed, as an inclusion training program can be different from workplace sensitivity training.
While online sensitivity training in the workplace can be suitable for some companies, it is important to try and establish whether this will work for a specific office in advance since having to repeat training due to ineffective the first time around is not ideal.