Inclusive Learning

What is Inclusive Learning?

Inclusivity is a general practice of taking specific actions to make marginalized groups feel welcome in the workplace. One LinkedIn study found that inclusive teams are over 35% more productive than ones that do not prioritize inclusivity.

While inclusion goes hand in hand with diversity, they aren’t synonymous. Diversity refers to a workforce with differing traits, identities, or demographic information of an individual. Inclusion makes a diverse workforce feel comfortable, valued, and safe from discrimination at work. 

Inclusive learning is the practice of developing learning materials that effectively help everyone learn together, taking specific steps to overcome any cultural differences and learning styles. An inclusive learning environment ensures everyone can benefit from the training material.

How Can You Create an Inclusive Learning Environment?

Taking the time to create an inclusive learning environment helps ensure everyone is able to understand any given training session. Whether you’re teaching employees a new policy or using a SaaS training platform to help them get hands-on experience with a new tool, inclusivity is crucial to the effectiveness of the training program.

How can you go about creating more inclusive training programs? Let’s explore some critical inclusive learning strategies to consider as you create or revise new programs.

Utilize Various Formats

Training a diverse, inclusive workforce means you’ll have a workforce that’s fluent in a variety of training approaches, ensuring trainees are capable of learning in a style that suits their needs. Giving trainees different formats for the same information allows them to choose the best method for their needs.

For instance, some learners prefer short instructional videos, some prefer documents they can read at their own pace, and others prefer an instructor-led program. You can make all these formats available and include them together, such as an instructor-led video course with available documentation.

Additionally, it’s crucial to understand the different levels of language fluency throughout the workforce. Written materials may be a better way for non-native English speakers to learn material versus video formats. You should also avoid using slang or colloquial language that may confuse someone who isn’t as familiar with the language. This can create an additional barrier even if they can understand English fluently.

Lastly, avoid using a translation tool for learning material as it can make mistakes or misuse cultural terms that affect the learning experience. Hire translators to create the supplementary material if you’d like to provide a multilingual experience.

Actively Look for Any Biases

Be explicitly aware of possible biases in trainers and the training material. These biases might be having material that makes assumptions about the trainee or affects how trainers treat trainees in instructor-led programs.

As an example, how do trainers interpret when a trainee is quiet and not participating? Is that being interpreted as introversion or a confidence issue? Cultural differences can often affect how trainees act in a training environment, as can disabilities or psychological differences.

For training material, make sure to avoid any language that may be offensive to trainers or hard to grasp for those who aren’t familiar with slang. Stay aware of how material that may seem innocuous to trainers can be interpreted differently by marginalized groups, often subject to less-than-ideal attention outside of the workplace.

Solicit Input from Diverse Groups

Ask trainees for input, and make sure you solicit feedback from everyone. On top of asking for input after the fact, you can also seek input during the training development process. 

The goal is to develop material that keeps the needs of every employee in mind. Achieving this is challenging for any organization, but you’re only making the situation worse if you don’t ask for input or feedback.

However, it’s important not to single out employees based on specific traits or information, as this may be an uncomfortable experience. Instead, send emails to a broad group of employees asking for input or feedback. You can also ask trainees at the beginning of a course to reach out if any of the information is hard to understand or doesn’t consider the needs of specific groups.

Create an Overarching Culture of Inclusion

Inclusion is about making diverse groups of employees feel welcome and valued in the workplace. Inclusive learning is one way to nurture an inclusive workplace, but it should be part of an overall effort to create an inclusive culture.

A culture of inclusion needs to be prioritized in tandem with building a diverse workforce. You can make an effort to adopt diverse hiring practices, but employees need to be welcomed into an inclusive company. It’s still possible for discrimination to exist throughout the business alongside diverse hiring.

Creating an inclusive workplace is a significant yet crucial undertaking. Here are a few ways you can promote true inclusivity, not just diversity, throughout your company:

  • Create mechanisms for people to safely speak about any discrimination or non-inclusive practices occurring in the workplace. 
  • Ensure managers assign tasks based on skill and ability rather than demographic information. 
  • Take corrective action if an employee reports an issue in anything from training material to company memos.

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Benefits of Prioritizing Inclusive Learning

What are the benefits of an inclusive learning environment? Inclusive learning can benefit your organization and workforce by:

  • Increasing productivity and job satisfaction, as employees will effectively learn from training programs.
  • Encouraging everyone to be aware of possible discrimination in training materials so it can be corrected.
  • Reducing the risk of possible lawsuits if a hostile training environment is allowed.
  • Making members of marginalized groups feel welcome at your company, which improves employee loyalty and your company’s reputation.

Inclusive learning is one component of an overarching effort to create an inclusive workplace. Remember that diversity is only the beginning; inclusivity must also be involved to make a diverse workplace feel valued and welcome.

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