Tackling DE&I through L&D

How do organisations tackle DE&I through L&D? A nice small question.

What we know is that diversity is an outcome. The route to it is inclusion.

We need to be inclusive in our L&D approach. If we want to create genuine change and not something that becomes a tick-box exercise, we have to have the courage to do the following things.

We need to teach human skills. How does my mind work? How do I build relationships? How have my belief systems developed? How do they serve me and not serve me? How does all this drive my behaviour? And we need to make these skills really personal and take them to a deeper level than we generally see in L&D programmes. For everyone.

We also need to understand our driving forces. The need to belong and the need to feel valued are human needs that we all have.

We can get these met positively or negatively but we rarely make these decisions consciously. Often, our negative way of meeting our need for belonging is that we create separateness so that we can feel belonging elsewhere.

We spend a lot of time focusing on beliefs about other people through processes like unconscious bias training. But they don’t get deep enough; we need to put support systems in place that enable the right conversations to happen. Do you have an environment where people are genuinely open to learning? Do you have a system where people have permission and the skill to give intent and feedback in the moment?

We all suffer from self-enhancement bias. If you were to score yourself on how inclusive you think you are, most people choose around a 7. If you then give a number to how inclusive you think people are in general, generally this is much lower – say a 4 or 5. Then give another number to what the ideal is, which most of us will say 10. The reality is we can’t all be above average.

So to create change we have to understand what’s really going on in ourselves, our belief systems, and then relate it to our own personal experience. We need to set up environments of permission for feedback, and give people the language and the models to create change in the moment, when it happens.

Organisations will often run DE&I training as a set piece  – but in reality these human skills are the foundation block for everything.

We’re the experts in human development (we promise that’s not self-enhancement bias). Take a look at our programmes to find out about the leadership and life skills we focus on.  

By Ivy House London
29th March 2021

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