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Racial Unrest Leads to Spike in Corporate DI Interest

The multiple killings of Black people at the hands of police and resulting protests throughout 2020 represent one of the defining tragedies of an already tragic year, also marred by a global pandemic. Lives have been lost, businesses destroyed and a nation further divided. While it’s hard to imagine any silver lining in such a situation, there is some good news to be found in the way some businesses are reacting.

“As social justice protests continue and some employers work to address systemic racism, numerous organizations have reported a notable increase in participation and investment in training for diversity, equity and inclusion, according to data shared with HR Dive by LinkedIn, Udemy, Skillsoft and ExecOnline,” writes Aman Kidwai in an article for HR Dive. Interest in such programs is definitely on the rise. Kidwai points to a Yale University and ExecOnline partnership to create “Fostering Inclusion and Diversity,” a program that saw a 298% year-over-year increase in enrollment just during July; that upward trend has continued. In fact, September enrollment was 357% than the same month last year. Executive level participation is also on the rise.

What’s prompting this interest? A number of things.

A Desire to Address Tensions

Simply addressing the multitude of issues going on in the broader world can do a great deal to ease anxiety and tension workers may be feeling right now. Many are unsure of what to make of these events. And, with so many employees are working from home, their opportunities to interact and talk with others is much more limited than usual.

While it isn’t necessarily the responsibility of an employer to provide an outlet for staff to vent frustrations or talk about societal issues concerning them, many companies are doing so as a way to help mitigate stress and other mental health risks among their staff members. It’s a good move on a number of levels.

To Demonstrate Commitment to the Workforce

In addition to reducing the risk of staff facing stress or mental health issues that might impact their work or lead to absenteeism, D&I efforts are one of many ways companies show their workforce they care. This helps companies set themselves apart from other employers when it comes to recruitment and retention.

To Avoid the Potential for Employee-Involved Racial Incidents

It’s not just employees whose tensions are high at the moment. Employers certainly want to avoid any insensitivity or misunderstanding in a customer interaction or public statement or action that might inflame passions and tarnish the company’s brand.

In such a divided political climate as the United States currently finds itself in, it’s easy for Americans of all stripes to feel like their government is not doing enough to address the pressing social issues of the day. As one of the most influential institutions the average American has regular contact with, an employer has a unique opportunity to address these issues for their own benefit as well as the benefit of their employees.

Inclusion is a business imperative. The best companies understand that and are ramping up their efforts to create a culture of inclusion for everyone.

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Are you tired of workplace diversity training that does not link to business? Are you tired of tactics that don’t drive business results? InclusionINC has inclusion training solutions and strategic consulting that link inclusion to employee engagement, productivity, innovation and retention, moving inclusion beyond tactics to a critical business strategy.


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