How to Spark Innovation with Diversity and Inclusion Training

December 12, 2019 | Keely Witherow


A recent report by professional search engine confirms that diversity and development go hand-in-hand. 

The results are in: The fastest-growing companies are 72% more likely to have high diversity in their organization compared to the ones that didn’t see growth last year. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) training in the workplace has come a long way from the mandatory HR-initiative, and is now considered a driver of innovation and talent in an organization. This new generation of D&I training combines powerful technology like virtual reality with multi-modal approaches to teach employees about unconscious bias and cultural competence in sustainable, meaningful ways. 

Read on to learn about how leading companies are implementing comprehensive D&I training programs with great results. 


Set yourself apart from the competition

Research shows that companies with diverse and inclusive workforces are more innovative and profitable.

Pharmaceutical company Bayer is a great example: they can thank their stellar diversity program for winning The Catalyst Award, which is the highest honor for diversity in the United States. Their Head of U.S. Learning and Talent Development, Karen Bicking, attributes this success to their active promotion of women in the workplace: “We have programs geared toward diversity and inclusion, so we partner with some external organizations to help develop our women leaders.”

Other companies like professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY) use diversity to set themselves apart from the competition and to spark innovation within the team. Martin Hayter, their Global Assurance Learning Leader describes their workplace culture:

“The team has a global flavor to it. It brings more creativity and higher quality and we know that the content we develop is going to be applicable to different cultures, and to both emerging and mature markets.”


Use small initiatives to achieve a bigger goal

A diverse and inclusive company culture cannot develop overnight, but must be cultivated over time. It should also be multi-pronged and involve more than one way of delivery to adapt to different learning styles and preferences.  

Max Avruch of BCG Digital Ventures credits the impressive success of D&I training to the increased use of multi-model approaches and what he calls “radical inclusion.” According to Avruch, the company’s learning and organizational development specialist, radical inclusion relies on a company culture that embraces diversity in a multitude of ways. Formal training meets a strategy tailored to the specific company’s needs. He explains the overarching goal of D&I training as the following:

“It’s the notion of really trying to include everyone and not feeling like there’s the segregation that can easily happen in a work-type community.”


Bring D&I into daily life

Embracing diversity in a genuine way and making it accessible daily is more likely to foster innovation and development than a hasty PowerPoint presentation.

To seamlessly incorporate D&I training into your organization, follow in the footsteps of BCG Digital Ventures. For them, the writing’s on the wall - or, should we say “stalls”? Their initiative to highlight LGBTQ Pride involved placing Kinsey scales, which describe a person's sexual orientation, on the inside of the bathroom stalls in their office. Employees were encouraged to anonymously mark where they fall on the scale. According to Avruch, “It was a way for us to show diversity on our walls and to show people there is a spectrum around orientation,” says Avruch.

Creative approaches like this that bring D&I training out of the classroom and into daily life are key to developing a welcoming, supportive environment for a diverse set of talent to thrive. 

Remember: when it comes to D&I training, companies that fall behind will get left behind. If you don’t want your company counted among the 48% who have yet to offer any type of D&I training, there’s no time like the present. Reeves of Merck provides one last piece of advice: 

“Start small. Really look at where you can get started and then just go ahead and chip away at it!”

Keely Witherow is a writer and content editor at professional training search engine and higher education portal A native-Texan based in Stockholm, Keely has utilized her interest in cross-cultural relations to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Do you want to learn more about how to bring D&I to your organization? Join us at Women of Silicon Valley on May 4-5, 2020 at Santa Clara Convention Center and hear case studies and insights from world-class speakers on the subject.

Join the movement to improve diversity and inclusion practices in the industry and get your Super Early Bird Pass now before it runs out!