Developing a Learning Culture

Authentic Inclusivity: Building More Diversity Into eLearning

Artwork by Greg Kozera

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The most effective eLearning happens when learners relate to the topics and examples offered (hopefully as part of a really good story). However, when learners can’t see themselves represented in the content, it sends a message that training is only beneficial to a certain type of person—making the experience disengaging, and even discriminatory.  Building diversity into your eLearning shows your learners that everyone has the opportunity to grow and succeed. 

Intent and Authenticity

If you’ve never considered eLearning through a diversity lens, consider yourself privileged. You’ve probably never had to worry whether job opportunities are limited by your race, or wonder if your gender is negatively affecting your chances for a promotion. 

For some context, think about onboarding videos that depict every manager as a white male: can you imagine the message that sends to new employees? If you want to set the tone for a diverse and inclusive learning culture, you need to start with your onboarding process. From day one, sending the message to your employees that race, gender, ability level, and economic status don’t limit opportunity in your company creates an inclusive culture where everyone can succeed. 

When developing onboarding or any other training, make sure the learning and development team reflects the diversity you are wanting to represent to avoid unconscious bias and encourage different perspectives. 

Inclusive Content

Actions (and images) do speak louder than words. Claiming diversity when all of the images and people in your training content look the same is disingenuous at best. Inequality in eLearning content might not be intentional, but it’s worth examining past biases to avoid the impact these microaggressions can have on minority employees and your company’s culture as a whole. Take the time to audit your eLearning and watch out for these content concerns: 

  • Animations and videos depicting only one profile of employee
  • A lack of diversity in narration for audio and video content
  • Content and delivery that doesn’t acknowledge differences in economic background 
  • Training that isn’t accessible for employees with disabilities 

It’s OK to acknowledge your own biases and admit that you’re not the authority on workplace diversity. Even more effective than acknowledgement? Putting the right people in the right places to guide your organization to becoming a more diverse community. Creating inclusive, diverse training shows your employees that everyone—regardless of race or gender—has the opportunity to grow and succeed.