Inclusivity in workplace training is vital for any training designer and facilitator to consider when creating and delivering a programme. But what is meant by ensuring inclusivity in workplace training?
An inclusive training event includes:
- Having frames of reference that are inclusive, i.e. that your mental picture includes a diverse group of people, experiences and identities - and that your materials, handouts, delivery and the physical environment of the training space reflect this.
- An awareness of how power operates in society, the nature of oppression and how this can affect people's experiences both in society and in the training group.
- Challenging assumptions, generalisations, and statements.
An inclusive training event starts from the moment the event is commissioned. The training design needs to take account of the organisations policies and procedures and to challenge these if they are in any way discriminatory.
All materials that will be used as a part of the training should reflect the organisations diversity policy and facilitators should be confident that that they are expected to and will be supported in challenging any breeches of this in the training room.
Participants should receive clear information about the training before it starts. This should include information about the training methodology and about what is expected of them throughout the duration of the programme. If they have any specific needs or requirements to support their participation in the event, they should know who to contact to discuss these.
An Inclusive Approach to Training
The experiential style of training in its very nature is inclusive.
- It encourages everyone's voice to be heard
- It recognises the diversity of experience and does not judge these experiences
- It recognises that people learn in a variety of ways and a learning environment is facilitated to support the learning to take place utilising different learning styles.
- Assumptions and generalisations are challenged. For example people are encouraged to make "I" statements
- A core part of experiential training is to encourage an exploration of people's attitudes/values and how this affects their practice by raising awareness. This can help to minimise the impact of unconscious bias.
This raises the question of whether there is a bottom line when participants’ behaviour is unacceptable and therefore they should be asked to leave?
Trainers should consider how to respond if someone repeatedly comes out with offensive comments. You could:
- Remind them of the working agreement set at the start of the programme
- Ask them to leave
- Ask the group how they feel and what they want to do about this
- Refer to the organisation's equality & diversity policy, the course contract letter etc. and let them know they are breaking the contract for the course and ask if they want to stay on the course
- Ask them to "hold onto their beliefs" for now and listen to other people as they are silencing other participants by constantly stating their views.
These options should ideally be discussed with the organisation at the planning stage. This way, the participants are likely to be aware of the stance of the training which gives support to the trainers to respond to any incidents that may arise in the training room.
The key issue for the trainer/facilitator is what is the most effective way of challenging participants? This is dependent on a whole host of factors. For example; the nature of the course, what point of the process you are at, your own training style, etc. and is a complex training question to which there is no simple answer. Facilitators need to be aware of how people will have developed their perceptions and also how people learn.
Possible dangers are either that the facilitator colludes with predominant views expressed in the training group or that they use their power to put down a participant who does not adhere to the necessary equality and diversity measures.
We are all at different stages of learning and we have all had different access to learning opportunities. The very nature of training or learning is to encourage people to express honestly what they think and feel. This won't always be “nice”. It is contradictory to encourage people to express their feelings and then give them a hard time about what they have said.
If you are co-training, it may be useful to consider some questions with regards to inclusive practice. These should be explored between trainers before working together on a training programme.
- How do you respond to incidents on courses?
- How does race/gender/ability/sexual identity affect the working relationship between you?
- How does it affect how participants might see you including what they might project onto you?
- How will this affect how you might respond to issues that arise?
- In reality what do you do when someone says.….
Useful lines when challenging someone:
- Would anyone else like to respond?
- What specific information are you basing that on ?
- Is that what YOU think?
- What feelings does this bring up for you? (In a highly charged situation it can be helpful talking about feelings rather than what the person thinks.)
Download our Avoid Unconscious Bias in the Workplace free webinar today to see how you can avoid potentially challenging situations in your organisation.
Contact us for more information or if we can help reduce the negative effects of unconscious bias in your workplace.
Deryl Dix, Facilitator and Consultant
In my blogs I’ll discuss unconscious bias and the importance of inclusivity in workplace training.
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