Thoughts on Mandatory Diversity Training

Mandatory diversity training is a good thing in my book. It increases awareness and knowledge of the human-cultural tapestry.

However, I don’t support simply marching people through training sessions on topics that they already have in-depth experience and/or applying programs that speak only to the lowest common denominator. This gives diversity training the type of reputation that makes employees eyes roll with frustration at having to sit through “another boring meeting“.

To be effective in the delivery of training, organizations working to create welcoming environment must develop a training scheme that addresses diversity at the experience level of their employees and the provide the right tools for the roles that exist in the company hierarchy. This was the approach that I used while lead the Diversity Outreach and Intake Program as CIBC.

Working with the Employment Equity Department and the CIBC Knowledge Network, we created a diversity awareness scheme that addressed the roles that existed in the bank and the type of information someone in those roles would need to know in order to become a diversity promoter.  Next, we surveyed employees to get a better understanding of the knowledge that already existed in the company.  After this was done, a diversity communication plan was created and implemented.

While this took a bit more work, I believe that the outcomes (e.g., engaging training sessions, growing support for inclusion, and a truly equitable workforce) were worth the effort.