For the 21st century workplace, if you are still wondering why promoting diversity should be a priority within your leadership and development programs, the answer is quite simple and clearly evident through validated research. Modern employees prefer working for companies that promote diversity – of race, gender or physical special needs. Additionally, organizations that promote diversity and inclusivity throughout their business approach, also earn greater profits.

The millennial generation is now the largest in the workforce. According to a report released by the United States Census Bureau, they are also the most diverse generation in history. This has increased the demand for workplaces that support diversity. But according to the Harvard Business Review, 78% of employees said they work at organizations that lack diversity in leadership positions. The same study concluded that a lack of diversity in leadership hampers innovation and prevents minority groups from being recognized for their contributions.

Encouraging diversity through your organization’s leadership programs improves workplace culture, attracts new talent and boosts profits. Recent reports have also shown that companies that rank higher for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to earn higher profits than their competitors(1).It was also found that a higher representation of women in C-suite level positions results in 34% higher profits.(2)

Thus, it is fairly evident that promoting diversity through your leadership programs is crucial to success. In this article, we are going to share with you five different ways you can support diversity in your training program.

Provide Training Content for a Diverse Audience
It is essential to be strategically inclusive when creating content for your leadership development programs. You will be training high potential leaders who have different learning preferences and skill levels. Training programs that give employees different formats and training methods to choose from, enable employees to engage with learning content in a way that best works from them. There are many ways you can provide a variety of learning materials for your leaders in training.

An effective strategy, especially for corporate training, is to use a blended approach. Blended training programs use the 70:20:10 framework where 70% of the training is experiential, 20% is social learning and 10% of the program is centered around formal training. Using a combination of training methods such as mentorship, job aids and eLearning simulations greatly increases the impact and effectiveness of your leadership training.

Use Inclusive Visuals
The visuals and graphics that you use in your training program should also promote diversity and inclusivity. Whether you are selecting images, sharing an infographic or creating video content for your leadership program, it is best to keep diversity in mind. Representation matters and employees are more receptive to learning content they can relate to. If you choose images with people that all look the same and do not represent your employees, you risk sending the message that their presence is not important.

Ask for and Utilize Feedback
Ask for employee feedback during both the development phase and after the program has been implemented. Asking for feedback gives employees an opportunity to share valuable insights regarding diversity and inclusion. Your potential leaders can help you identify and address any issues they encountered during their leadership journey. Utilizing employee feedback ensures that the training plan reflects the audience you are trying to teach.

Monitor Your Talent Pipeline
It is imperative to keep track of who participates and successfully completes your leadership training program. This information can be useful in identifying patterns or issues related to diversity.

For example, while tracking your learning program you may notice that a particular group of employees has not been being selected for leadership training. Or there may be a specific group of employees in your organization who are not successfully completing the training. Actively tracking your talent pipeline will help you understand if learning uptake is low for a group within the organization and rework on your training strategy to make it more inclusive.

Integrate the Topic of Diversity and Inclusion into the Program
Integrating topics such as diversity and inclusion in your training will send a message that diversity is important. It is also a powerful way of showing your employees the ways that they can promote diversity and inclusion as leaders. This helps spread diversity and inclusion throughout the organization.

Conclusion
Implementing the 5 strategies helps you create a successful leadership training program that encourages diversity and promotes a positive business impact as well. Training can be aligned to champion diversity within leadership programs, leading to a better company culture, improved morale and ultimately, higher profits. A diverse workforce that is inclusive leads to greater innovation and employee satisfaction – a clear win-win for all.

To learn more about leadership training watch our video 5 Questions Your High Potential Leadership Program Must Address that highlights the need of creating a successful development program for accurate and consistent HIPO identification and retention.

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