The pandemic has had an incredible impact on the world at large, and in many cases, our work lives barely resemble what they looked like before. But nearly six months in – and with Black Lives Matter protests still surging – it’s high time we move our focus back to the core values espoused within our organizations. While we may have all figured out how to conduct effective remote meetings, stay connected and engaged, and disseminate information at a large scale, companies are now pondering how to implement the mainstays of any well-built organizational scaffolding – like diversity & inclusion training – remotely.
To learn about how we’ve approached D&I training remotely at Glassdoor, I sat down for a Q&A with our Director of People Experience & Diversity and Inclusion, Jacob Little.
Q: With COVID turning the world upside down and the global backlash to police violence at a fever pitch, diversity & inclusion training has never been so important – or so challenging. How are you keeping the momentum going on the critical work of educating and training employees on how to think and talk about race, while actively squelching bias?
A: The first thing my team and I did is produce and roll out advocacy and allyship guides. Employees were hungry for information and resources to help them better understand what was going on, and what they could do to take action. As events unfolded, many wanted to better understand systemic racism, so we organized film screenings, book discussions, and connection circles to give people an opportunity to share, learn, and discuss together. Now, we’re focused on scaling equity training across the organization and integrating diversity & inclusion principles into all of our manager development programs.
Q: What are some key ways you’ve translated your DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) efforts into a virtual format?
A: Ever since COVID, my team and I have had to get creative about delivering engaging, timely content in virtual formats. To respond to our employees’ desire to learn more about racial issues, bias, and inclusion, we’ve rolled out a number of programs and resources:
- Connections Circles. Many of our employees wanted a safe space to connect with others, process their feelings, ask questions, and find support. We debuted a new type of small group program called Connection Circles that allowed people struggling with isolation and anxiety or simply wanted to process what is happening in the world with other people. We saw large numbers of employees participate in these small group sharing sessions, and people reported leaving feeling calmer, more encouraged, and more aware of the experiences of their fellow employees.
- Book & Film Discussions. We planned live events to foster discussion on structural inequality and racism. Our Sr. Exec team read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and held virtual book club meetings to discuss and learn how they could be better champions of equity at Glassdoor. Our LGBTQ+ and Black Employee Resource Groups planned a collaborative event during Pride month where we screened “The Death and Life of Marsha P Johnson” and had a robust discussion about civil rights and privilege.
- Guides & Resources. We created resource documents about allyship, bias, and partnered with our Black ERG to compile a list of recommended books, movies, podcasts, and businesses created and owned by Black people. Some of our leaders used these resources to facilitate discussions about race and equity on their teams
- Leadership Training. We’ve also piloted a new development session designed to train our leaders on how to ensure they’re keeping equity and representation top of mind as they are building new products and leading initiatives. I’ll be honest and say that I’m biased against unconscious bias training – it was designed as a ‘check the box’ activity by corporate attorneys to demonstrate they were “doing something.” But outcomes have been underwhelming, and have failed to create more diverse and inclusive cultures. So, we’re trying something different that we hope makes a more meaningful change.
Q: Do you have any concerns that the quality of learning may be compromised with an online format? If so, have you developed any creative ways around this?
A: I believe the most effective and impactful learning occurs in the community. The ability to learn from others, process ideas together, and be inspired by thought leaders is key to learning. Virtual and online learning can be effective if it incorporates the community into the process. This can be accomplished by team discussions on online learning modules, discussion forums or groups, and opportunities to apply and practice learnings in real-time. Simply putting learning assets out there isn’t enough – it has to be structured, reinforced, practiced, and processed.
Q: What do you believe is the best format for keeping people engaged? Are you creating any kind of interactive content?
A: I still believe the best forum is authentic, vulnerable, and engaging live discussions. It’s very hard to change behavior and mindset without emotionally impactful, empathy-building experiences. Online diversity training is great for sharing facts and concepts, but I believe true behavior change happens in the community, with accountability, honest discussions, and genuine connection with others who think differently than you.
At Glassdoor, our mission is to help people find a job and company they love, which includes offering millions of reviews from employees on what it’s really like to work in a specific job at a particular company. We encourage you to read these reviews when assessing the external perception of your company’s culture, how you are showcasing your investments in diversity and inclusion efforts, and how you’re highlighting other workplace attributes relevant to your company.