Is E-learning for Diversity a tick-box exercise? How to move beyond compliance

29th October 2014

We live in an increasingly diverse society, which is very often reflected in the workplace. It is of course important that we always respond with the appropriate sensitivity to this diversity, and learners in all workplace settings will reflect it in their gender, age, class, sexuality, race, religion, disability and ethnicity.

The legal framework that encompasses equality and human rights is in place to enforce avoidance of discrimination, but is this enough to genuinely equate to true egalitarianism, or is compliance to the rules simply a means of a company avoiding the consequential backlash from failure to transparently deliver such equality of opportunity? Indeed, is e-learning for diversity a tick-box culture, or can it enable the move beyond compliance to truly engender the concepts of parity and success?

Considering Equality and Diversity

Equality is about eliminating discrimination and prejudice in a society (from a workplace society to the larger aggregate community) where everybody has the same opportunities to progress and achieve their full potential, regardless of their heritage or background. In essence, equality is about treating everybody as if they were the same.

Diversity, on the other hand, though sometimes used or understood rather confusingly as a synonymous term to equality’, actually means difference’. Diversity is about recognising individuals’ differences, and placing positive values on those differences within societies and workplace environments.

The two terms can actually rub against each other; however, the spirit of them actually equates to one and the same. Individual diversity should always be considered in order that everybody’s needs and requirements can be treated with equality. Indeed, it is almost a paradox of a concept people can’t be treated the same without understanding first how everyone is different.

Is Equality reflected in the workplace?

It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that there still remains a rather overt display of inequality in occupational environments. According to the Multiprofessional Faculty Development in a post that considers the NHS in the UK, 75% of the NHS workforce is made up by women, though they are concentrated in the lower-paid occupational areas, such as nursing, administrative, ancillary and allied health roles. Black and minority ethnic groups make up 39.1% of hospital medical staff, yet only comprise of 22.1% of all hospital medical consultants.

In large organisations such as the NHS it’s necessary to ensure that equality training is put in place and it complements existing initiatives such as the leadership programme which was recently envisaged to ensure that the NHS is building inclusion into the business at board level across 6 different NHS pilot sites.

E-learning for Diversity

Despite the world becoming so highly diverse, there are still many companies which have not done so, and indeed this can often hinder the value locked within an exclusive culture. Today, promoting diversity is simply required of an organisation. However, although many claim their unwavering support, the reality is actually far less in evidence.

A global survey conducted by Deloitte University Press found that only 1 in 5 companies believe that they are truly ready to embrace diversity and all of its benefits. Why the massive (80%) short falling? Well, there is a view that diversity compliance is just that a regulatory box to be ticked. This, unfortunately, simply isn’t good enough to instil the sense of urgency required to make a more meaningful move into a true environment of workplace diversity that is matched by its efforts for equality.

What is needed is a better understanding of the benefits that a truly diverse workforce can inject into the value of a company. Online diversity training is one means by which a company can begin to tackle this problem and get to grips with fully understanding what they are missing, from failure to implement diversity measures into their workforce. Indeed, far beyond being simply a tick-box exercise, embracing diversity and utilising individuals differences for the overall good of an organisation can make the difference between success and failure in today’s business world, which is now as competitive as it is diverse.

Moving beyond compliance

An individual’s feeling of being treated equitably is the true measure of a company’s commitment to diversity. This means that as an organisation, you have to communicate and connect with each employee not only as a member of the workforce, but as an individual. Indeed, this realisation can actually be the driving force of a company’s success, when individuals unique attributes are put to a use that not only suits the company, but also the employee her/himself.

‘Not everyone who gets into a business is in the place where they will ultimately be the most successful or happy in their career,’ says Stephen Shea of Ernst & Young. Sometimes their unique attributes will lead them to be far more successful [which, in turn, equates to the success of the company] in a different part of the business or a different pursuit, and it’ s okay to tell them that.’

By committing to building a culture of diversity where employees are making the most out their skills and experiences i.e. their differences a company will almost invariably find that productivity, morale and indeed success can be optimised to produce the best possible outcomes for all involved. In theory this is a very simple equation, and the only real obstacle in making it a more encompassed reality is in engendering the commitment from organisations to make it so.

Courses

Diversity in the workplace e-learning courses are the exact tool your company needs to start building towards this success. They will teach you and your workforce not only what it means to accept the concepts of diversity, equality and equal opportunities, but why these things are important, and how their successful integration can move your company beyond mere compliance to the rules, but towards a culture of unlimited inclusion and success.

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