What are the best tools and training materials for DEI initiatives?

Posted 28 October 2021 by
Melissa Summer, The Myers-Briggs Company

Leaders and HR professionals know how important DEI initiatives are to successful organizations, but what are the tools and trainings that really move the bar? A recent webinar answered that question in depth, and the highlights are below for you. 

WorkWider’s webinar featured Giannina Seaman, a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion / HR Professional; Glenn E. Singleton, Founder and CEO, Courageous Conversation™ and Work Wider Partner; and The Myers-Briggs Company’s Sherrie Haynie, Director of US Professional Services and co-creator of the workshop Inclusive Leadership: Harnessing Diversity of Thought. The webinar was moderated by Michele Lanza, Founder & CEO at Work Wider.

Here’re some of the top takeaways and best sound bites:

Best Practices – when do tools and training make sense for DEI initiatives?

Giannina spoke first, mentioning that the best tools to support DEI efforts have “a purpose behind it. Knowing what you’re trying to solve for and build on is as important as choosing the right tool. The tools need to be part of the process. If you just do the tool and don’t do the follow up with engagement from management and leadership, then it’s just a checkbox item. Organizations that [use DEI tools] well have a thoughtfulness behind it.”

Glenn added, in regards to training for DEI, “we’re looking at a lack of racial diversity at the top of orgs. As I look across our portfolio, at the top I see no black women. So, the first thing I’m going to do is have the person at the highest level of the org. own that. If you come to work everyday as someone in the C-suite and you’ve not had any conversations with black women outside the workplace, how would you have that fluidity in the workplace?”

Sherrie also mentioned “What we see as our definition of inclusive leadership is to be able to role model the behaviors that leverage diversity of thought. If there’s not a training program that supports leaders to have the right behaviors, then you just end up with untapped talent. We feel these [inclusive behaviors] are still things that can be learned, and we focus on helping those leaders learn those behaviors.” 

How do leaders create a sense of belonging in an organization? 

Giannina: “You can’t just say ‘I need diversity on my team.’ You need to be willing to do the work. And when newness comes in to your team, it also takes having patience. When you hire someone who’s not traditional to your organization, because you want this difference, but you’re not willing to train and develop, then the sense of belonging isn’t going to be there for that person.”

“That to me tends to be the number one reason that employees who come from different backgrounds don’t have a sense of belonging. Difference comes with patience, and development, and training.”

Sherrie: “A lot of managers think they have good intentions. But often times those good intentions or desires aren’t enough. So when we’re thinking about what we can do to help managers really get to that next level of commitment for inclusivity, a lot of managers have these blind spots and biases that’re formed by their experiences and their environments.”

“And part of that is rooted in their personality.”

“They might favor like-minded people without realizing it. Whether they’re conscious or unconscious, they’re inadvertently leading to the exclusion of others.”

“You might have a manager who unconsciously will select people to lead a project who thinks like them, or speaks like them, and that makes it easy because they click and there’s no conflict. What can we do to help managers uncover what those biases might be?”

“Assessments can play a role in helping managers recognize what are those skills that lead people to feel included that are already my strengths? And what are my development opportunities? What can I do to be better and present more of an important environment.”

Glenn: “Those are just really powerful ways of defining when those assessments work. And you’re also talking Sherrie about where the organizations feel the crunch. It’s the people managers. They’re ultimately the face-to-fact folks. 

“So somehow from the top, the value has to bring itself down from the executives to the people managers. And the value can’t just be espoused. It has to show up in behavior. Then those people managers have to be able to accept that value, and to personalize it, and assess where they are in the trajectory of proficiency and be able to practice what that behavior looks like. If they don’t have the practice, managers will be afraid to go live.” 

“We all know what a sense of belonging feels like, but managers need to be able to practice getting better at the behaviors that bring about belonging.”

The last 18 months have woken up a lot of white people to the fact that systemic racism is real. A lot of managers don’t realize the impact of their behaviors on the feeling of belonging of others. From the employee/candidate lens, when you have a manager who isn’t building a culture of belonging, what are ways an employee can advocate for themselves? What have you seen that’s worked?

Giannina: “It’s a little touchy because depending on the level, [the employee] may be less inclined to raise their voice. If you can’t go to your manager, you can go to your HR partner or someone else in your organization like a mentor who can help you with that conversation. If you’ve got something to say and something’s bothering you, you should say something.” 

“I would also say if you find yourself in an organization that’s not listening to you and your concerns, then you as an individual have to make some decisions for yourself. If you’ve given the organization the chance to do right by you and they’re not, then you as an individual can make a choice to look for alternative departments or even other organizations so that you can work more effectively.”

“No matter your level, you need to be able to speak for your authentic self. The rest depends on the organization to listen and adjust where necessary.” 

Sherrie: “When an organization uses DEI tools in an appropriate way, it’s about appreciating and elevating differences so that it’s not a ‘nice to have’ but it’s a ‘must have’ to be an effective, productive team.” 

“In the early part of the employee lifecycle, it’s important to get that language in that you appreciate differences: different thinking styles and different strengths. From The Myers-Briggs Company terminology, it’s about having the diversity of how we think, how we’re motivated, and these differences might be out of my comfort zone but might be someone else’s preferences.” 

“I need to be able as a manager to be flexible and appreciate ways of doing things that aren’t the same as how I’d do things.”

For organizations where employees are working at or above capacity, how do you prioritize time for DEI work?

Glenn: “DEI can’t be outside of the scope of work. DEI is the work. When organizations prioritize DEI, then there’s no dilemma and it’s not outside of the work. And we can’t integrate something that we don’t understand – it needs to be its own priority and measure of accountability.”

Sherrie: “If it’s considered just a professional development task and check the box that you watched the video, then it won’t be a priority. It has to be integrated into every aspect of your work. It shouldn’t be considered ‘extra work’ for an employee.”

Giannina: “It’s you as an individual centering that as part of your professional lens. But as an organization, we have a responsibility to have that DEI language interwoven into every part of the organization. From the onboarding to exit interviews. When it’s in the organization’s DNA, then it becomes part of the employee’s DNA. And when you have that foundational experience, that carries through with you to the rest of your career.” 

Want to learn more about inclusive leadership? Check out this page and download The Inclusion Delusion free guide here. 


Want to watch the full webinar? Register with WorkWider for free to access the webinar here: https://workwider.com/wider-view/what-role-do-tools-training-play-in-edi-efforts/