e-Learning – exploring its real potential for diversity and inclusion


22 Apr 2020

e-Learning – exploring its real potential for diversity and inclusion

Since lockdown began, Penna have been helping our clients with e-learning and remote onboarding processes. One of the most important areas we’ve been implementing online solutions in is equality, diversity and inclusion. Diversity Solutions lead Kris Phelps, discusses how make your D&I initiatives inspiring and informative in this new remote working world.  

Face-to-face training is no longer an option, but your employees still need opportunities to learn and grow – perhaps more than ever. Virtual learning is invaluable in upskilling your workforce and ensure compliance.

Take your diversity and inclusion initiatives. These lend themselves well to online dynamic content. Let’s go on journey to see how you can excite, engage and educate colleagues on topics that provide them with the ‘I get it now’ moment.

Step 1: what’s the strategy, what are the needs and where are the gaps?

What’s the current level of understanding about D&I in your organisation? How are individuals using this understanding in their day-to-day roles?

Consider what employees aren’t doing, and what you would like them to do more of. How does this align with your overarching diversity strategy? Does off the shelf e-learning hit that need, or does it lead to more questions? It might be you need bespoke content.

Step 2: time to talk – involve your stakeholders

Buy-in is critical. Involve key stake holders, your D&I team and line managers in particular when creating and rolling out this e-learning. Get commitment for team completion rates. And review your D&I processes, is there a reason why one core area within the business has a lack of buy in? 

Step 3: create that content

It’s likely you already have a strategy for diversity and inclusion (and if you don’t, talk to Penna about how we can help you create one). You’ll want to ensure your strategy informs your content, to make it bespoke to you. But here’s some broad tips on what to include in D&I related e-learning.

1. Authentic messaging

A clear message from leaders within the organisation that speaks directly to staff on the importance of D&I within your company.  Perhaps a film, or letter-style content would work.

2. Keep it clear

Honest communication surrounding your diversity data. Include where you’re making progress on your specific diversity stands, and where more needs to be done.  Speak to Penna if you would like help, we’ve worked with a lot of businesses to help get this message right

3. Signpost your support

D&I training needs to do more than cover the basics. You need to cover your strategy, and tangible work that’s been done. 

Anticipate what people want to know, provide answers – and then indicate further support you’re able to give. Set up a D&I mailbox for questions, suggestions and keep the D&I dialogue going with comms beyond your training.

4. Make it relevant, give people a voice

Make it personal, for example if you’re providing training on creating an inclusive culture, it’s important that it has your companies tone of voice and includes the lived experiences of your staff. This can be taken from your most recent employee engagement survey. That way you can build training that speaks directly to your colleagues and supports them to understand their role and responsibilities.

Step 4: think about presentation

Consider the user experience when creating digital or virtual- learning. Is it accessible to everyone? Does it meet the expectations of today’s learner? Can they pick it up on their devices?

Not everyone learns in the same way, so allow users to undertake training in a way that works for them. For instance, embrace facilitated training that engages the audience rather than an overdone read and click approach. Keep it as interactive as possible with online whiteboards to share ideas and storytelling videos.

Think about the potential problems too. For example, how do people ask questions whilst in session, how do we acknowledge discussion points without being able to see and hear each other, what happens if the internet connection is poor?

Step 5: get your timing right

E-learning provided over the employee lifecycle tends to take place either annually, for new starters, at promotion or when migrating through management.

But with the current climate virtual learning can and should be rolled out quicker and more frequently. Just make sure you give enough notice to your employees.  

Step 6: measure and act on your impact 

Design, engagement and completion of virtual learning is only the start. Whilst you may have an impressive 98% completion rate, has the information has sunk in? How will the learning translate to a colleague’s day-to-day life?

Empower individuals to step aside and ask questions, to build their learning into their day to day duties and suggest content that they want to learn. Measure and respond to the real-life impact your D&I learning is having. 

Want to learn more about e-learning and D&I?

We make it our job to stay ahead of the latest challenges, news and research across issues around gender, disability, LGBTQ+, ethnicity and social mobility. It means we can help you explore new opportunities and overcome any complex diversity issues. So, you’ll find unique talent, while offering bright sparks their ideal opportunity. It’s nothing short of a win-win.

Speak to Kris.phelps@penna.com to find out how our diversity consultancy can help you.