equity, inclusion, diversity and inclusion
Creating change,  Diversity training,  Inclusion,  Professional Development

You’ve been asked to train on equity & inclusion, but…

So, you’ve been asked to train on equity and inclusion, but there’s one small problem…you’ve never done it before! Eeeek…where do you start?

A caller raised this great question during one of my recent Q&A sessions, and it’s one I hear a lot. There are a couple key steps that you can take, and I’m covering them below for you. Ready? Let’s go!

Tip #1: Talk to your leaders about diversity and inclusion.

Start by going back and chatting with the leaders or the person who asked you to do the equity and inclusion training. Ask them some basic questions like:

  • Why do you want this training for our employees?
  • What kinds of skills, knowledge, and capacities do we want them all to be able to do/have?
  • Honestly, where do you think they are currently?

Tip #2: Get a deeper vision of the state of equity & inclusion.

See if they can help you glean a deeper perspective on the state of equity and inclusion by breaking it down by level, such as follows:

What is the current capacity and possible resistance for:

  • Leaders
  • Middle managers
  • Entry level folks
  • Folks that have one-year, five-year, ten year

equity, inclusion, diversity and inclusionNow, you don’t have to ask all of these questions of leaders, but you really want to at least have a heart-to-heart with the person who asked you to facilitate the workshop.

Though, it can be very productive if you can get in front of the leaders to have them honestly assess – and I don’t just mean a formal assessment – but to evaluate:

  • Here is where we think our folks are at: degree of knowledge, skill, commitment, resistance, etc.
  • Here is the vision we have for our future
  • Here’s our strategic goal for the depth of competence we need from our employees

And we’d like you to do all that in 45 minutes…” is what you might hear next.

Tip #3: Equity, Inclusion & Diversity = A Long-term Investment

At this point, you’ll need to negotiate. If they say you’ve got only 45-minutes or an hour, you may want to see if you can get them to commit to offering a series of 4-6 trainings.

Most organizations, I hope, realize that these skills are long term investments in people that happen over time. And especially when it comes to equity, inclusion, and diversity, people are coming in to you with all sorts of pre-determined ideas, feelings, and life experiences.

We all have implicit bias, prejudices, and stereotypes that we were taught and that are still reinforced in society and the media everywhere.

That’s what makes these workshops so different than learning how to do budgeting. Yes, people come in with triggers and fear around budgeting – but it’s even more so when you start talking about issues involving diversity, equity and inclusion.

Tip #4: Infuse Stories into the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Training

When I think about the design component, I want to make sure I warm people up. The best analogy I can give you is to think of your workshop as a play…

In act one, you warm people up with a “why are you here?” – this might involve a leader explaining why they’re attending and how it relates to the strategic plan as well as the expectations they’ve set.

When you introduce yourself, I recommend telling some stories. Think about sharing:

  • Where you used to be: like, how you used to be less aware/less skilled
  • What happened to help you become more willing and prepared to use an Inclusion Lens in your work
  • If it feels appropriate, a little more about your current capacity and what you still need to learn

Stress | Triggering Situations

This is really important: As facilitators and trainers, it can be a game-changer when we design in a story that really shows how recently we were not very effective, but we quickly learned and ultimately we’re more effective today.

Why? Because you don’t want to come from the perspective of “I’m the expert and I’m here to teach you everything” but instead, “Hey, I’m just like you, I’m on a learning journey and we’re in this together.

Tip #5: Get People Moving & Reflecting on the Current State

In groups of about 3, have people share stories surrounding:

  • A time when they really felt they mattered in the organization.
  • Go deeper by asking what it was that helped them feel valued and respected.
  • A time where they felt marginalized in the workplace.
  • Again, go deeper by asking them to share what that experience was like.

What you’re doing is creating a container for authentic conversation, engagement, and storytelling. This prepares participants for even deeper learning throughout the workshop.

Tip #6: Get to know who your participants are.

When I started out 35 years ago, I would find a really fun activity and think I could just run with it. I didn’t strategically think about some key factors, like how ready and willing participants were to actually engage in the level of work needed.

You have to get an understanding of their current capacity to create the most effective DEI training. Remember that folks can be willing and want to learn, but they may overestimate their current skill set.

From my own experience, many people in the workshops that I do will say that on a scale of 0-10 with 10 representing the highest capacity, they’re in the range of 6-8.

But once we start working together, they’re maybe 2-4 on that scale. And I think that’s a pretty good guess of where a lot people are.

Knowing this can help you better design your activities and scaffold the learning in ways that keep people engaged. And if you find out that you under-estimated their capacity, be prepared to move faster and deeper if the group shows up in greater competence.

Our Role as DEI Trainers & Facilitators

At the end of every day, our role is to design and facilitate trainings on diversity, equity and inclusion so that organizations have the foundation they need to create a more inclusive work environment and to more effectively serve their increasingly diverse customers and clients.

If your organization could use a jumpstart, I have a brand new course to help you design and facilitate powerful trainings on equity, inclusion, and social justice. You’ll walk away with fresh strategies and proven tools to accelerate learning and organizational change. Get all the details here.

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