It’s well-documented that a diverse workforce can help build higher-performance teams that bring together a broad range of perspectives to solve a company’s toughest challenges. However, to get to this point, your organization must not only embrace diversity, but also create a safe space for employees to challenge their biases and continuously learn and grow together. 

To create a diverse and inclusive workplace, a critical area of focus is your managers. Your people-managers are fundamental to the success of your Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B) programs.

As these managers lead their teams on a day-to-day basis, they are constantly interacting with and influencing their employees. Weekly one-on-ones and team check-ins are a natural setting for managers to both build trust between employees and develop psychological safety within their team.

Employees look to their managers as examples of how to carry out the company’s values. And most often these individuals are the ones called upon to answer challenging questions and respond appropriately in the moment when an employee raises a concern.

Additionally, beyond leading the existing team, your managers are also hiring new team members to continue developing your company.

The eyes of your organization are on your managers. 

As a result, it’s important to make sure these individuals understand their unique responsibility as it relates to diversity and inclusion. They need to be equipped to facilitate productive dialogue with their teams and model these values for the rest of the organization. 

Despite the importance of managers in this equation, many people-managers never receive diversity and inclusion training.

In fact, a survey in People Management revealed that 61% of managers polled had either never received diversity and inclusion training or they had not had training like this in the past year. This leaves many managers unequipped to effectively manage and mentor their increasingly diverse teams.

What is Diversity Training?

Diversity training is about setting up your teams for success.

Most frequently, diversity and inclusion training for managers will be a structured program designed to reduce prejudice, bias, and discrimination by facilitating positive dialogue and helping people understand how to work effectively with individuals that are different than themselves.  

Benefits of Diversity Training for Managers

1. Create Safe Spaces for Learning and Growth 

It’s been said that building trust and psychological safety starts with the team, and it’s true.

Trust and psychological safety are foundational to any diversity program, and the team is where the majority of this work happens. Managers need to have the appropriate skills to build trust between themselves and each individual in the group to create a safe space for everyone.

However, managers need training to help them facilitate these conversations with their teams and foster a mindset of learning. 

2. Unlock the Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Power of Your Teams

In addition to helping set the tone and dynamic for the team, each manager is also accountable for their team’s performance.

Diversity training empowers your managers to unlock their team’s full potential by enabling the problem-solving and decision-making advantages of diverse teams. Once managers create psychological safety within their teams, employees are more inclined to ask questions, share ideas, and challenge the status quo — allowing them to innovate faster. 

3. Prevent Discrimination

Preventing discrimination in your workplace starts with education, and by helping people-managers and their teams recognize unconscious bias at work, develop cultural competency, and apply these learnings to real-world scenarios.

By training employees to understand different perspectives and gauge the comfort levels of others, diversity training helps them think about how their actions could unintentionally cause offense. This can go a long way towards increasing empathy, reducing hiring biases, and eliminating discrimination in the workplace.  

Ready to Build Your Managers’ Diversity Skills? 

Training your managers in diversity and inclusion is key to a thriving workplace. A leadership development platform like Verb gives managers the human skills they need to lead in the modern workplace.

Unlike one-time training seminars, Verb provides a continuous learning cycle to reinforce learning with experiential and collaborative activities that yield real, lasting outcomes. 


Learn more about how to make diversity and inclusion part of the fabric of your company culture by downloading our DEI&B Guide.

Graphic to download a free resource, the guide to how organizations can use leadership development to support DEI&B initiatives

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