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Sensitivity Training in the Workplace

Have you heard about organizations implementing corporate sensitivity training? Have you wondered if your company is behind the times if you don’t have one? Many C-suite executives are tempted to dismiss the concept as “PC culture,” but don’t be so quick…

Sensitivity training in the workplace is all about fostering a culture of respect, integrity, and accountability for everyone at your company. If you have a diversity program, this type of training fits in nicely with concepts you already strive for. Let’s discuss some of the ways implementing sensitivity training will benefit your company.

What Is Sensitivity Training?

Corporate sensitivity training aims to help employees within an organization to acknowledge and respond to attitudes and behaviors that may unknowingly offend others (especially those of backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures different from their own).

Most people think of sensitivity training as specific seminars where a speaker lectures a group on how to not sexually harass people. However, this type of training does so much more. It discusses:

  • Tactics to handle difficult personalities
  • How to improve your emotional intelligence
  • Dealing with gossip

How Will Sensitivity Training in the Workplace Benefit Your Company?

If you’re skeptical about implementing sensitivity training, here are all the benefits that you’ll reap.

  1. Increased employee retention: When there’s a negative interaction or conflict in a workplace, it can result in one or both employees departing. By reducing the likelihood of this occurring, you’re increasing employee retention.
  2. Improved staff potential: When you create a more positive work environment, you improve both staff morale and performance.
  3. Encouraged diversity: Sensitivity training encouraged increased diversity by making everyone feel comfortable, which can also increase innovation at your company.
  4. Reduced complaints and grievances: HR won’t have to worry about as many conflicts between employees.
  5. Boosted productivity: No more time spent worrying about disrespectful behavior!

How to Improve Implementation of Corporate Sensitivity Training

Poor delivery of sensitivity training can result in negative outcomes at your company. Here are a few ways that you can ensure that your sensitivity training is well-received by employees and managers alike.

  • Set clear expectations of how everyone should behave during diversity training

Some people will have engaged in these types of conversations previously while others will not have. Level the playing field by setting expectations at the beginning of the sensitivity training about what types of behaviors will and will not be tolerated.

  • Hold everyone accountable regardless of who they are at the company

Often, “high-performing individuals” are given a pass when it comes to behavior. If you want diversity, inclusion, and sensitivity to be taken seriously, be sure to hold a high performer just as accountable as a newcomer.

  • Engage people at the top and have them lead by example

No one is exempt from sensitivity training. Your diversity program should be attended by everyone at your company, including senior executives.

  • Examine your behavior and encourage others to do the same

Everyone has their own unconscious biases. Self-reflection is a crucial element of self-awareness. During sensitivity training, discuss how you can use self-reflection as a daily tool to make you more sensitive to your coworkers.

Final Thoughts

Remember, sensitivity training in the workplace isn’t a tool that should be used in retrospect. It’s a tool that should lead the ongoing effort to improve your workplace environment. By integrating it as part of your routine diversity training in the workplace, you can help meet your employees’ needs.

Also make sensitivity a part of your workplace, 365, with a Diversity and Inclusion Calendar.

How to Create a Diversity and Inclusion Council

Are you seeking to create a diversity and inclusion council to either launch your DEI program, or boost its progress? Leveraging a group of employees to act on behalf of the company – and guide the process – can help to propel your organization to the next level of inclusion and belonging. Here are the five steps that can help you create a diversity and inclusion council.

Understand Your Company’s Current Challenges

Before creating a diversity council, explore the existing challenges your organization is experiencing in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, perhaps your company takes advantage of employee referrals. While referrals often have benefits, they can also create a homogenous workforce – and repel diverse candidates. Being aware of challenges from the outset can help give your diversity council a clear mission.

Establish a Framework

Create a plan for how your diversity and inclusion program will take shape, including the formation of your D&I council. If you already have a thriving D&I program, consider how your council will integrate into and benefit your existing program. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Define the roles and responsibilities of your diversity and inclusion council
  • Identify partners for key initiatives
  • Establish accurate representation
  • Determine membership expectations
  • Define meeting cadence
  • Track and communicate progress
  • Determine how to recruit new members for the council

Get Executive Support and a Budget

Your diversity and inclusion initiatives should come from the top down, while also being employee led. This will ensure you have the proper infrastructure (in other words, budget!) to support the commitments you make in the workplace to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

When you build a diversity and inclusion council, you create an avenue for employees to be directly involved in matters of diversity and inclusion. And when you bring in partners from the C-Suite – as well as HR, Legal, and Finance – you’ll be better able to implement council initiatives.

Identify Your Mission and Focus Areas

Write a mission for your diversity and inclusion council, ideally one that’s in sync with your company mission. You’ll want to make it broad enough to be inclusive and evolve with the company.

Here’s an example mission statement:

We believe every person has equal value, which is why we work hard to expand fair and transparent access to [insert services] and to welcome all kinds of people and their ideas. Our diversity and inclusion council combats discrimination. It promotes respect, inclusion, opportunity, and community in our workplace. It has four elements, including messaging and metrics, attraction and recruitment, inclusion and retention, and community and partnerships.

Build a Strategy and Set Goals for Your Council

Build a strategy for your team. If you follow the same structure as the mission statement above, here’s what each of the four teams will focus on:

  • Messaging and metrics: practicing inclusive messaging practices, and tracking employee demographic
  • Attraction and recruitment: sourcing diverse candidates from a variety of backgrounds and creating fair hiring processes
  • Inclusion and retention: raising awareness of identity in the workplace and cultivating an inclusive community
  • Community partnerships: engaging lower-income communities and underrepresented groups

Final Thoughts

Having a solid plan in place can help your diversity and inclusion program to gain traction within your organization. While it may take time to make progress and feel fully integrated with other elements of your DEI program, you’ll get there eventually! Stay humble, learn from experience, be open to feedback, and foster your passion.

And make sensitivity a part of your workplace, 365, with a Diversity and Inclusion Calendar

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