Whether we like it or not, research highlights that we tend to favour those who are like us (or at least those we think are like us), and many of us fall into the trap of unconscious biases. This extends to all aspects of life, and the workplace is no exception.
Whilst there is growing recognition of the social and systematic issues that have driven the demand for compliance training around fair and equal practices in the workplace, studies such as this one from Harvard Business School suggest that completion of this training does not often result in noticeable positive changes in workplace cultures.
Biases can display in many workplace practices, from hiring to general communication. Whilst there are of course people who may knowingly exhibit prejudice, for most people it is unconscious, and thus it is important that it is brought to everybody’s attention and challenged in a way that makes the workplace a safe and inclusive place for all.
When we think of compliance training, we likely think of topics such as Health and Safety, Bribery, Cybersecurity, and Information Security. However, it is crucial to recognise the importance of compliance training in Diversity, Anti-harassment, Discrimination and Workplace safety.
Due to the typically legal nature of compliance training, many employers and employees treat it as a chore; a tick box that employers must ensure all employees have completed. Whilst this satisfies legal requirements, it is not enough to evoke any real changes, and when it comes to diversity and inclusion, a simple completion of the training is not enough to see a noticeable impact on workplace culture it’s ingrained practices.
For this type of training to be effective, it must challenge the way we work, behave and think. Thus, when it comes to training employees in the practices surrounding diversity and inclusion, employers must ensure more than mere attendance and completion and guarantee that the information provided has been truly engaged with and understood.
Below are three elements that employers can look for when sourcing or implementing compliance training that help to ensure it has a real impact.
Emphasise its significance. In order to ensure a true understanding of the weight of diversity training, business leaders must lead by example and make it clear that behavioural standards are important for every person in the organisation to adhere to, at all times. An employer who emphasises the importance of this training will see it taken more seriously.
Many people dismiss compliance training, failing to recognise how beneficial it is to every individual and the business as a whole. Oftentimes, discriminatory behaviours may go unnoticed or unchecked, even if there is no malicious intent involved. When employees embark on compliance training with the belief that it is meaningful, they are more likely to walk away from compliance training with the ability to recognise and challenge their own behaviours, from which everyone benefits.
A culture where everyone is striving to build a fairer environment is better for everyone, and in turn can boost productivity, job satisfaction and employee retention. When the multitude of benefits is recognised, employee interest should increase.
Even if you are outsourcing your materials for compliance training, the importance of the event itself can be emphasised, and a commitment to making it count long term.
Make it simple. Whilst diversity and inclusion as a subject is layered and complex, the training itself does not need to be.
Whether you are building your own materials or outsourcing them, look for courses that are not too heavy on the details of the compliance law, but rather seek to emphasise the core values, and the skills needed to recognise discriminatory behaviours. For most people, as soon as the issues are identified and understood, they will make an active effort to change their behaviours for the good of everyone.
Of course, leaders and HR managers will need to ensure that the business is in-line with the legal requirements of diversity and inclusion, but for the normal employee, a less convoluted approach to the topic is more like to encourage behavioural change.
Use this training as an opportunity to encourage conversations and establish the key elements of being inclusive. Seek to educate employees, especially those who may have never experienced discrimination, on how certain behaviours can be damaging. Establish steps to build a healthier environment and simply and concisely explain what is expected of every individual in the business.
Remember that concise information is easier to consume!
Ensure its sustainability. One of the key flaws of compliance training, as mentioned, is how it often gets treated as a tick box – a course that needs to be completed every so often, but otherwise isn’t thought about.
Diversity and inclusion is never a one-and-done session but a long-term commitment to challenging ingrained practices and ensuring and maintaining a healthy and fair workplace environment for all.
Compliance training only works if the things learnt and discussed in training are implemented every day on every level. Establish communication channels that allow the conversation to keep going and implement and adapt practices regularly.
Ultimately, compliance training around diversity and equality must be treated as a long-term commitment. Practices need to be made clear, and their importance must be highlighted and reiterated by business leaders in order to motivate noticeable cultural changes in the workplace.
Check out Trainer Bubble’s extensive range of compliance E-Learning courses here.