LGBTQ eLearning

It’s Pride month and we’ve been working with organizations large and small to empower their employees to be more inclusive of the LGBTQ community. This matters to your employees and to your clients. 31% of Gen Z and 20% of Millennials are identifying as LGBTQ+ (Kantar/Hornet 2018) and these workers and consumers value organizations that take the time to educate their employees on diversity and inclusion. Simply put, they want to feel seen and heard by companies. It matters - and it matters well beyond Pride month.

One of the many ways we help companies better serve their LGBTQ employees and consumers is through our LGBT eLearning. In about 25 minutes, your workforce will learn the definitions of L, G, B, T, and Q, a short history lesson, and how to be an ally to the LGBTQ community. There are even videos dedicated to addressing Transgender 101 and The Spectrum of Gender (or Non-Binary 101).

The LGBTQ eLearning is a series of short videos (averaging about 3 minutes each) that provide best practices and practical tips. We have 3 different variations on the product: for Human Resources, employees, and front-line workers. Each is tailored with practical scripted scenes (with actors) to share LGBTQ best practices.

When you license our LGBT eLearning, you will receive SCORM-compliant files that you can easily add to your your Learning Management System. The course includes knowledge checks, can track learner progress, and score learners on their success with the quiz questions.

The LGBTQ eLearning can be tailored for the size of your workforce and scaled up or down to meet your needs. We believe that training should be practical and fun, not preachy or boring. That’s always our goal and one of the reasons many organizations trust us with their training needs. eLearning is often stuffy and boring but that’s not the case here. Our LGBT eLearning is contemporary, quick, and practical.

Drop us a note if you’d like to see a demo!

Diversity Training for Front Line Employees

Most of the diversity training work we do is for industries with a large front line workforce. We define “front line” pretty broadly: basically anyone in business development/sales; customer service; and marketing is at the front line. These are the folks who interact with clients, consumers, customers, patients, students, guests, travelers, you get the picture…

The front line is largely ignored when it comes to diversity training. After all, they’re often out of the office and unable to attend an hour long or half day unconscious bias training. They may be road warriors, going from sales meeting to sales meeting. Or maybe they’re standing all day interacting with customers with no access to a desktop computer or LMS (learning management system).

The challenge here is that the front line is the face of the brand, and if the front line employee engages in a micro-aggression or act of unconscious bias, the brand’s reputation can be at risk. We believe a proactive diversity training approach is best, one that meets these front line workers where they are - on their smart phones. Situational micro-learning and eLearning is most practical for these workers - short videos and exercises that make sense without overly complicating things. After all, most "diversity training” expresses the concepts of the golden (or platinum) rule: respect, great listening, and avoiding assumptions. In our opinion, communicating these concepts doesn’t require a 4 hour (or even 1 hour) training. We can do it in about 10 minutes.

Unconscious bias training is not rocket science. We find that over-complicating things is a turn-off not only to ourselves but to others, and folks shut down when faced with the prospect of another training. We’re all about the KISS method.

We believe that when front line workers are trained to be more inclusive, that will have a profound ripple effect not only on the corporate culture and employee morale, but on the customer experience. If customers feel like they can truly be themselves without fear of rejection, they will carry themselves with greater dignity and have more loyalty towards your brand. That is priceless. That is our vision.

Giving Everyone a Voice: Best Practices for Inclusion

Diversity, while important, means nothing without giving those diverse folks a voice in the workplace – without making those diverse voices feel included. There are numerous ways to create inclusion, but they must have strong buy-in from leadership.

To create inclusion, it’s important to first understand the concept of “covering.” In its 2013 study Uncovering Talent, Deloitte explained why true inclusion is elusive: “The ideal of inclusion has long been to allow individuals to bring their authentic selves to work. However, most inclusion efforts have not explicitly and rigorously addressed the pressure to conform that prevents individuals from realizing that ideal.”

That pressure to conform is “covering” or hiding parts of us to avoid stigmatization. Deloitte found that an astounding 61% of workers cover parts of themselves at work, including 45% of straight white men. People may hide elements that could draw unwanted attention to their race, religion, health, parental status, political party, and so forth. And when people can’t fully be themselves at work, they under-perform.

How do we create a workplace where the pressure to cover is minimized, where people can truly feel like they belong and can bring their full selves to work? Here are five best practices:

1.    Create psychological safety. Truly inclusive work cultures have psychological safety. This means that people feel safe enough to bring their ideas to the table without fear of rejection from their team. They feel safe enough to take risks. One way to create psychological safety is for leaders to demonstrate this themselves, to show genuine emotion and be vulnerable enough to admit failure, talk about their own fears, concerns, and areas to improve. Google conducted a two year internal study and found that the number one indicator of high performing teams is psychological safety. This really matters.

You can start small to create psychological safety. One health care organization asks employees to smile and greet anyone who comes within 10 feet of them. That’s a small, actionable habit that creates a welcoming environment at work.

2.    Train your team on unconscious bias. Trainings are safe places for people to learn how to behave, and then truly understand that DEI strategies are financially prudent and good for them as leaders. A comprehensive training on unconscious bias, the science behind it, and how to reduce it can go a long way towards better understanding and then empowering the whole team.

3.    Create a DEI council or committee. The goal here is to enlist leaders who will use their seniority to advocate for DEI initiatives. Involve 8-15 volunteer leaders from all parts of the organization, especially those with a large span of responsibility. Their role will be to educate themselves, then drive and inform DEI strategy and initiatives, particularly advocating to the “resisters” at the firm. These council members are not subject matter experts nor a stand-in for a paid DEI team.

4.    Create or strengthen Business Resource Groups (BRGs). Your firm may already have BRGs (also known as Employee Resource Groups or ERGs) – the women’s group, the veteran’s group, the LGBT group, etc. These groups are important spaces for employees to connect with one another while also supporting the firm’s business goals. BRGs should always have a business imperative, which can lead to them being more highly valued by leadership. BRGs should each have a unified strategy, even when there are chapters in different offices. BRGs are an important space where employees can find their voice and sense of belonging in the workplace.

5.    Develop sponsorship programs. Sponsors are senior executives who directly enable their protégées with career advancement, and increase objective career outcomes. Deloitte embedded sponsorship in its culture after a pilot program that paired women in a leadership training program with an executive sponsor. Within a year, nearly all participants had received promotions. You can start small with a sponsorship program, even beginning with one department as a pilot.

Kelly Rau from KPMG wrote in the 2018 Prequin Investor Study, “It also takes having senior men in our industry to sponsor women and help them progress inside of their organizations. Given the number of firms that are run by men, it is vital they be involved, to enable this process to happen much faster.”

This work is not easy, but it’s important to make your firm a more attractive place to work, to reduce turnover, and increase revenue by better understanding the market.

Bernadette Named to Top 25 Women in Meetings List

Equality Institute founder Bernadette Smith was honored earlier this year as one of the “Top 25 Women in Meetings” by Meetings & Conventions magazine.

Bernadette’s background is in weddings and events and although she’s no longer a planner, she understands the importance of creating inclusive meetings and events. In her talks, she addresses not only LGBTQ-inclusivity, but ways to be inclusive of all diverse groups.

What an honor to be included in such a prestigious list!

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Strategies to Increase Diversity in the Hiring Process

You may have heard the story of a man named Jose, who was having no luck on his job applications. He began applying with the name “Joe” instead, and suddenly started receiving calls. The same is true in numerous studies where two resumes were submitted for the same job that were identical in all aspects except for one: the name. Resumes with male names consistently get more calls for interviews than identical resumes with female names.

If you’re reading this, that story probably doesn’t surprise you, so let’s talk about solutions. By now, hopefully you’re clear on the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workforce. And hopefully you’ve successfully made the business case to leadership at your firm. Getting their full support is critical in authentically achieving DEI goals.

Now that you’ve got full buy-in and commitment from the firm’s leaders for a comprehensive DEI strategy, I’ll outline the steps needed to achieve the firm’s DEI goals.

Start with the D: diversity. Diversity is mix of people in an organization. Diversity can be many things: gender identity, race, country of origin, disability, sexuality, generation, gender expression, religion, political ideology, and much more. In this post, I’ll focus on increasing gender diversity – starting with a mini lesson on unconscious bias.

Unconscious bias is the act of instinctively making assumptions about people or things without taking the time to think things through. Every last one of us is guilty of unconscious bias, and it’s because of the ways our brains have been wired for centuries to make decisions quickly to keep us safe – ie, to fight or flight. Unfortunately, unconscious bias leads to a lack of diversity in hiring and promotions. Here are just some of the ways bias leads to less diversity in leadership positions:

•       Gender bias (eg: women are given fewer opportunities than men if they have kids then but then are disliked when they are not seen as nurturing)

•       Association bias (eg: favoring those who went to the same college, are members of the same organization or association, etc)

•       Similarity bias (eg: hiring/promoting someone that is similar to the person who previously had the position, similar to others in the department, and/or similar to the interviewer.

Before undertaking DEI initiatives, I highly encourage your firm to undergo an unconscious bias training, especially for leaders. Establishing a common language and common goals around unconscious bias and diversity will go a long way towards ensuring the success of the programs.

Here are 5 more tips to increase diversity at your firm:

1. Address the pipeline diversity issue. One of the main excuses firms use when explaining a lack of gender diversity is a pipeline issue. They may say that they’re simply not receiving many job applications from qualified women.

In the 2018 Preqin Investor Survey, Sandra Legrand from Alter Domus shared, “Diversity begins at the lower levels, starting with private equity education programs in universities to build up a pipeline of talent. Stirring up the curiosity of young women by sharing knowledge and experience, as well as participating in coaching and mentoring programs, will lead to increased diversity within our industry.”

Legrand’s advice is a great first step towards diversifying your firm’s workforce. 

2. Weed out biased words in job descriptions. Job descriptions often have hidden biases that attract male candidates over women. For example, driven, competitive, and analyze are male-biased words while collaborate, loyal, and support are words that are female-biased. There’s actually a solution to the unconscious biases that show up in job descriptions: Textio software notices biases when someone is typing a job description and suggests more neutral changes. This simple change will begin to attract a more balanced talent pool.

3. Remove identifying data from resumes. Software such as Ideal strips all identifying details (including name, location, and affiliations) from a resume so decisions who to bring in for interviews are less biased. This allows interviewers to seek out candidates based on their qualifications, not based on any biases that may show up unconsciously.

4. Have collaborative interviews with standardized questions. Collaborative hiring with diverse team members reduces bias because more voices are part of the process. For those interviews, use standardized, role-based interview questions which are important for many reasons: they force interviewers to focus on the factors that affect job performance; and if a scorecard with a scale is used as part of the process, this data can inform future hiring.

5. Give a work sample test. WeSolv is an online platform which connects diverse MBAs with companies by creating online practical “challenges” that job seekers can anonymously solve. Employers can then choose candidates based on practical experience and fit – not based on the hidden biases they may bring to the hiring process. WeSolv and other work sample platforms allow performance to be a direct factor in hiring.

These strategies are by no means a panacea, but should make a impact on gender diversity when used together along with strong support from leadership.