Can You Train Employees to Create a Strong DE&I Culture?

Can You Train Employees to Create a Strong DE&I Culture?

Aug. 19, 2022
Using data, gleaned from video-based discussions, can provide a benchmark of behavior that can be tailored to create a stronger DE&I culture which in turn delivers better business results.

Janine Yancey knew there had to be a better way.

So, in 2014, frustrated with how the legal system solved workplace problems, she moved from helping employers defend employment claims to helping them solve the problems that were causing these claims in the first place.

Her instincts were right as currently there are over 3,600 companies using her training including Chevron, Whirlpool and Genetech.

What makes this training system so effective? “Our method is to start conversations, which are the true social dynamics of the workforce, using video dialogue that gets to the heart of the issues of ethics, respect and inclusion. That dialogue is analyzed and aggregated and presented to employers so that they can see how their workforce is thinking about these issues. The next step is for the company to make changes to the culture, with the goal of everyone working together to reach common goals,” explains Janine Yancey, CEO Emtrain.

A DE&I Culture is Required

Reformulating a culture is often considered a company initiative, but that perspective must evolve in the current talent environment, says Yancey. “We are moving from a time when DE&I programs had an external focus whose mission was to achieve good corporate citizenship. Now, given the workplace demographics and social issue concerns, DE&I needs to be moved to the business operations side of the organization. If you want to attract and retain talent a DE&I culture is a necessity.”  

And with any business operations strategy, what gets measured gets managed. ”In other areas of business --production, sales and marketing -- data is the basis of strategy. The same is true of culture. It needs to be tracked quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. So, measuring the culture to ensure  that it’s where it needs to be is an effective way to help companies attract and retain talent.”

Emtrain's 2020 Culture Report, which consisted of 2.5 million responses from 40,000 employees at 125 companies, shows some of the issues that employees are having with their companies'  culture:

  • 38% of employees cite in-group/out-group dynamics as the greatest sources of conflict in their organization
  • 33% of employees identify power disparity as causing the greatest level of conflict at work
  • 33% of participants strongly agree that they can be their authentic selves in the workplace

Emtrain's System

A company’s workforce takes a general assessment to determine their strengths and weaknesses, through the company’s CultureTech platform. It’s then scored across the Workplace Social Indicators and then benchmarked to a global dataset of clients on  Workplace Culture Benchmark. Based on the data a curriculum is identified to build up areas that are weak. The courses fall under three categories; Ethics and Compliance, Respect & Workplace Harassment and Diversity Equity and Inclusion and include topics such as building systemic decision making, leading with empathy and skills in allyship.

One company, Cisco, was so impressed with the results of training they were doing internally, that they announced in June 2022, that would integrate Emtrain’s training modules through WebEx's collaboration solutions. “Emtrain brings a lot of expert content in an innovative manner that helps facilitates discussion around DE&I,” says Jason Copeland, vice president of Product, Webex.

Copeland says the ease of use and natural flow of information that can be embedded in collaboration tools has helped his company build its training program. “I’ll hold a team meeting in Webex, as we have many people working remotely, as do most companies, and we’ll watch the videos together in real-time and then hold a discussion. And for those people not comfortable discussing issues in a group, these videos can be used off-line as well.”

Given the sensitive nature of the content, Yancey notes that explaining things in a common-sense way that provides a business case use, is effective. “For example, when we talk about unconscious bias and inclusivity, we explain that when you use a bigger gear, with more people who have different perspectives, the quality of the decisions becomes better. A smaller gear,  which underlies unconscious bias, is not as effective in decision-making.”

In addition to improving the internal culture, Copeland sees this awareness as a valuable tool in attracting employees. “As these types of discussions become natural in our day-to-day workflow, it allows us to stay fresh and do a better job at the core activities that underly our DE&I goal. In turn, we can highlight these efforts when recruiting future employees. Any company is only as good as its people and that starts with recruiting but it’s also important for retention and development. This is how we can develop our talent to drive good organizational outcomes.” 

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

Sponsored Recommendations

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of IndustryWeek, create an account today!