On 16th March 2021, Diversity Network hosted a Corporate Learning and Development Digital Focus Day and Mentoring Workshop. This insightful online event, featuring contributions from senior experts from Shell, Network Rail, The House of Commons and more, provided the audience with new Learning and Development (L&D) strategies and ideas to train their staff around diversity, equality and inclusion issues.
If you missed it, you can access the sessions on-demand by entering your details here.
Here are just a few of the things we learnt during the presentations, case studies, workshops and panel discussion:
Blended learning is the future
With everything going remote due to Covid-19, organisations have had to move their L&D programmes online. Our panel acknowledged that although online learning has created opportunities, it is not one-size-fits-all, and an online-only approach will not suit all learners or all roles.
If and when employees return to offices and face-to-face training becomes possible again, organisations should look to adopt a blended learning approach for the best outcomes.
Tim Bowers, Training Portfolio Manager at Network Rail, called remote learning “a barrier and a solution”. He said: “Continuing to have multiple routes to competence is really important, so we won’t be taking options away from learners. We have done a lot of work on converting existing classroom learning to virtual, but in a considered way. For example, not simply turning the slide deck from the physical session into a webinar, but really looking at the content and how this can be delivered. We have brought in aspects such as video scenarios and gamification to make learning activities more dynamic in the virtual world, and we’re also looking at sandbox opportunities to increase learning through play.”
Tim also raised an important point around neurodiversity. We all have neurodiverse workforces and individuals with certain neurodiverse conditions may find some aspects of remote learning to be a challenge, so it is essential to offer a range of learning methods in order to be truly inclusive
‘Learning in the flow of life’
Our panellist Aimee Young, Senior L&D Specialist, highlighted that the idea of ‘learning in the flow of work’ now needs to be thought of as ‘learning in the flow of life’.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on work-life balance for many, and there is a risk that L&D could become a lower priority for individuals who are juggling work with other responsibilities or issues at home.
Others, who may have had more time than usual, have been keen to take advantage of learning opportunities. Mark Insch, VP of Organisation Development & Learning at Shell, commented that he has seen increased demand for learning, and a higher take-up of self-directed learning over the last year.
The panellists also agreed that re-skilling is becoming an increasing priority for L&D.
With remote working here to stay and the continuing challenges that brings to some individuals, L&D practitioners should consider how to effectively engage employees in learning and encourage them to take control of their own development.
Effective L&D is vital in increasing diversity at senior levels
At many of our Diversity Network events, we have heard from senior HR and D&I professionals that they now have diverse graduate intakes and greater diversity at entry levels. However, this is not translating to greater diversity at senior levels, so there is still much more to do in driving inclusive culture to retain and develop talented individuals.
L&D plays a critical part in this, giving people the tools to upskill and take control of their own learning, offering mentoring opportunities and support for progression.
Mark Insch said that Shell is “focusing on using L&D to help individuals from underrepresented groups progress in their careers”, which is great to hear, and hopefully other organisations will follow suit in recognising how important L&D’s role is in reaching D&I goals.
L&D and D&I functions should work more closely together
Robert Nunn, Head of Learning & Development at Grosvenor Group, spoke in detail about a project he led between the L&D and D&I functions to drive inclusive leadership.
Many of our speakers said that L&D and D&I could be much more aligned, within their own organisations and more generally, and Robert gave some valuable insight and advice on this.
“When we began working with the D&I team, we had a slightly challenging start,” Robert explained. “We sometimes felt we were crossing over into each other’s territory, so we needed to have honest, frank conversations around how to collaborate most effectively to achieve the best results.
“Our joined-up approach worked well and we recognised the value that each of us brought to the project. In L&D, we looked at the leadership behaviours that needed to shift and provided the tools and coaching required to do this, while D&I were instrumental in helping our leaders understand why inclusive leadership was so important, and how it would contribute to business performance.”
Mentoring has a clear impact on inclusive culture
Business mentoring expert, Kerrie Dorman, ran a fantastic interactive workshop on using mentoring to strengthen employee learning, development and growth. Kerrie highlighted a number of statistics that showed the significant benefits that mentoring can have, including a 25% increase in talent retention and 100% of executives citing an increase in job satisfaction (sources: CHRONUS, Deloitte, Clutterbuck Partnership, Sinclair Dorman).
Those who participate in mentoring programmes are more likely to be engaged, productive, feel a sense of belonging to their organisation, and be in a stronger position for career progression – all things that contribute positively to diversity and inclusion progress.
Thank you to all of our speakers and panellists for being part of this important conversation around looking at corporate learning and development with a diversity and inclusion lens.
We have many more exciting events taking place throughout 2021, each focusing on a different area of diversity and inclusion and all aimed at providing you with practical strategies, tools and ideas to improve D&I in your own organisation. Take a look at the schedule and book your free place at any or all of the events here.