DEI: The recipe for success, served fresh

A well-designed DEI strategy will consider these hurdles. Enlightened leaders see the importance of behaviour change as a way to build diversity, equity, and inclusion.


As an amputee, I never thought that being an astronaut was possible.

John McFall, British Doctor and ParalympianThe European Space Agency (ESA) sets a remarkable example inpromoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). John McFall, a Britishdoctor and Paralympian, clinched a bronze medal in the T42 100metres at the 2008 Beijing Games.

He is now training under ESA’sParastronaut Feasibility Project. Soon, he will make history as the firstastronaut with a physical disability to travel into space.Progressive businesses are striving to create the most inclusivework cultures, and they have every reason to do so. Employees fromdifferent backgrounds bring a range of skills, ideas, and experiences.Diversity is the foundation of innovation.

Companies that get it right give themselves a distinct advantage.According to a survey by Deloitte, 86% of business leaders agreethat having a strong DEI culture is important for their organisation’ssuccess. Employees who feel included within their workplaces areabout three times more likely to feel excited and committed to thecompany’s missions, reports McKinsey & Co.

Employees who feel included within their workplaces are about three times more likely to feel excited and committed to the company’s missions, reports McKinsey & Co.

Younger generations want workplaces that embrace diversity. There’s a greater awareness of the need for equality. According to 83% of young adults in India would consider quitting their job if their company doesn’t have strong diversity, equality, and inclusion policies. DEI is no longer just a buzzword. DEI programs help organisations attract and retain talent, and meet the expectations of their employees.

But for all the talk, most DEI programs fail to achieve their goals. Why is that?

Why do DEI programs fail?

Sociologists Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev exposed the underbelly of DEI training efforts. They studied the anti-discriminatory initiatives of more than 800 firms in the USA over three decades. The research published in The Economist revealed that numerous programs failed, and white men reaped the most benefits. McKinsey’s reporting aligns with the findings of The Economist. It found that women held only 38% of manager-level positions, and men of colour held just 22% of these roles.

There are many reasons why DEI programs fail. The list includes: poor design, weak implementation, a lack of reinforcement, and using shame and blame as motivators. In large multinational, and therefore multicultural organisations, the meaning of diversity, equity, and inclusion and their impact may not be commonly understood. Success in one part may be a failure elsewhere.

The lack of well-honed human skills, such as self-awareness,communication, critical thinking, and empathy, can derail even well-designed initiatives.

Superficial interactions
Inept communication and poor listening lead to confusion and misunderstanding among employees.

Closed mindsets
Progress is impeded when people are resistant to change or unwilling to see the world from others’ perspectives.

Unconscious bias
A lack of self-awareness and empathy leads to decision making that’s unfair.

Poor conflict resolution
Disagreements escalate when they aren’t handled properly. But dealing with difficult situations varies between cultures, so it can be hard to find an inclusive approach.

Weak teamwork
When there’s limited collaboration, sharing ideas and experiences becomes difficult. It restricts the full potential of the workforce.

A well-designed DEI strategy will consider these hurdles. Enlightened leaders see the importance of behaviour change as a way to build diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Pride and prejudice

Our brains are hardwired to see differences. They are constantly scanning the environment for threats and opportunities. When we see someone who is different from us, we often make assumptions about their motivations, capabilities, and suitability. These are biases about which we may not be aware, and they can have a negative impact on our interactions with others. For example, we are more likely to trust someone who looks like us, while we may overlook someone’s qualifications because they were gained in a different education system.

Until these biases and blind spots are tackled, success in your DEI initiatives will be an uphill battle.

The secret lies in behavioural skills. People who have been trained in self-awareness, communication,critical thinking, and collaboration are able to:
Understand different perspectives

This is essential for DEI programs, as it allows employees to see the world through multiple lenses and be more open to new ideas.

Solve problems creatively

DEI programs are complex. Employees with strong behavioural skills are better equipped to manage complexity and ambiguity. They look for and embrace creative solutions.

Communicate effectively

DEI programs require clear and effective communication. People who can explain their ideas and find common ground are better at achieving goals.

Break the mould

Training made available to only small, elite sections of the workforce is hardly inclusive. When training in behavioural skills is made available to every employee, regardless of their position or level, gender, or location, everyone acquires a common understanding. And that boosts the chance of a DEI program’s success. As with any transformation, the results rise when the whole workforce is engaged, understands the objectives, and can see a clear pathway.

Hardskills trains multiple behavioural skills as integrated courses. Rather than training only the leaders, our programs are designed for entire cohorts across regions, functions, and age ranges. Only when 80+% of the workforce is trained together, the new skills become part of the company’s DNA.

This cultivates an atmosphere that’s conducive to growth and development and recognises the value of DEI. It also considers the cultural challenges of both learning and DEI.

What sets us apart?

Long lasting results: Real change and effectiveness cannot be achieved through half-day workshops. So, we push for repetition, consistency, and interactivity to ensure lasting results. This approach helps professionals develop strong self-awareness, critical thinking, and communication skills that stick.

Holistic training solutions: We offer a suite of courses, including Global Business Skills, Modern Leadership, Forward, and Shift. This comprehensive approach caters to diverse employees, spanning from entry-level to leadership. Our training methods offer a cost- effective approach, saving you valuable resources and the need for extensive internal investments.

Inclusive content: Our cinematic content engages learners because it crosses cultural boundaries. Rather than simply ‘tell’, we ‘show’ what diversity and inclusiveness look like in the business world and the ways in which it can be achieved on a day-to-day basis in run-of- the-mill scenarios. The professionally crafted scenarios and user- friendly format suit various learning needs.

How we make a difference:

Learning science
Applying learning science principles increases the success of behavioural change. We encourage learners to link new skills to their own experiences, ensuring application in real-world situations. Our methods have delivered remarkable results, boosting behavioural skills by an impressive 60%.

Data-driven insights
We capture data to personalise learning and training feedback. This not only benefits individuals. It also provides organisations with valuable insights that are relevant to their DEI strategies. Dropout rates in particular communities can be addressed for example.

High completion rate
Our team-based approach results in completion rates ranging from 90 to 100%. From
start to finish, our learners maintain consistently high morale, with 80% of them finding the content highly relevant.

Strategic talent development
We’re all about helping employees shift from reactive to proactive mindsets. By building
training into a DEI program, you can plant behaviours that will maximise the impact.

Inclusive global focus
Our content features a diverse cast of characters and relatable situations. This means our learners see what diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace look like. Our training solution is highly regarded, with a net promoter score of 76+ from satisfied learners.

Our programs drive behavioural change. By doing so, we ensure employees understand their role in achieving DEI objectives. They become comfortable challenging their own biases. They learn to see the world in the shoes of others and to manage their communications and other work interactions in ways that recognise diversity, promote equity, and encourage inclusivity.

A five-step plan to boost your DEI program’s success

1. Engage global teams

Train teams across borders to promote cultural awareness and collaboration. Experiencing diverse cultures fosters empathy and understanding. Don’t underestimate the fact that people from different backgrounds learn differently and the need to build a shared experience.

2. Cohort-based approach

Bring employees from diverse backgrounds and various functions under one roof. This type of learning gives participants a safe way to meet and learn from people who have alternative experiences and styles.

3. Full-scale implementation

Roll out the program on all organisational levels. Every member, from entry-level to leadership, should feel they are contributing to an inclusive workplace culture.

4. Outcome-driven execution

Base your training on specific outcomes that are consistent with your DEI agenda. Align each module with predefined behavioural goals that are mapped to your DEI goals. This ensures a purposeful learning journey and measurable impact.

5. Get expert assistance

At Hardskills, we are working with dozens of organisations across the world in a host of sectors. So, we have a ton of know-how to share on the links between effective training, behavioural change, and DEI success.

Put your eggs where they matter

It’s essential to direct resources where they can make a real impact. When we recognise how important behaviour skills are to creating a DEI culture, it becomes clear that our investments must be in line with this goal. By helping people develop skills that help them communicate well, work together effectively, and think critically, we are laying the groundwork for lasting change. Creating a DEI culture isn’t just about policies or good intentions; it’s also about how people act. These skills are the threads that hold together a workplace where empathy, active listening, communication, and working together are the norm.