Carolyn Gallaway Diversity Dimensions CEO
Introducing our new self-guided online program has led to some very interesting discussions with both existing and potential clients as organisations struggle to balance the need for measurement and reporting with maintaining the effectiveness of a diversity program and the employee need for non-judgemental self-discovery.
Common questions have included: How do we get people on board? How do we know who’s completed the program? How did they score on their questionnaire? If they score below a certain % should we intervene? How do we know if it’s working?
Evaluation of programs is vital, but in our rush to tick the boxes we can miss some of the most important aspects of diversity and inclusion programs.
Should the program be voluntary or compulsory?
I think the most important aspect of online learning is to make it compulsory, after all, the aim is to reach as many people as possible in the organisation and if participation is voluntary it’s easy to opt out because of work commitments or unconscious bias about the topic. It also should be time sensitive so people are encouraged to complete the module within a period of 1 – 2 weeks.
How do we get people on board?
Unlike a group learning program you will need much more promotion of an online program and more champions to promote it internally and create interest and enthusiasm. It also needs to be easy to find in your Intranet. We know that participation drops dramatically if participants can’t easily find a program and support tools.
What should we measure?
With traditional group learning programs it’s always been easy to measure the data such as number of programs reaching number of employees, attendees in each program, and feedback from participants and trainers. Over time we can also measure changes in our staffing mix as we address gender, generational and inclusion issues. Our experience tells us that group learning around diversity and inclusion can be challenging for some individuals as they struggle to understand their own unconscious bias. They may not want to interact in a group in case they say the wrong thing or feel judged by colleagues.
With online programs we can also measure data like number of participants and completed questionnaires. Changes in the staffing mix and general attitudes can also be observed over time. The important question is whether an organisation should monitor the results of online questionnaires. In my opinion, although it is important to measure the delivery and monitor overall changes in culture; diversity shouldn’t be a pass or fail subject for the individual! How well each individual takes up the learnings is almost impossible to measure as it’s often the ongoing messages around diversity that facilitate behavioural change. Monitoring and intervention at an individual level can also have a detrimental effect of the overall success of an online program.
Online diversity and inclusion programs are a cost-effective way of reaching everyone in an organisation. But changing thinking about diversity needs to be an ongoing dynamic process that needs constant feeding by leaders and senior management within an organisation.
Although I have traditionally been a “behind the scenes” CEO of my company I feel it is time to demystify and take the jargon out of the Diversity industry. For the past 12 months we have been working on a program that will cost effectively give everyone in an organisation access to five diversity modules that are delivered on line. It’s all about Australian voices and Australian stories and the chance to challenge and affirm values with a healthy dose of “I didn’t know that”?