Creating Inclusive Workspaces: 7 Essential Diversity Training Strategies

Diversity Training

In the modern workplace, diversity training is crucial for fostering an inclusive, respectful, and productive environment. Integrating emotional intelligence (EQ) into diversity training can enhance understanding and cooperation among diverse team members. This is because emotional intelligence development focuses on sharpening behavioral skills that contribute to the workplace environment and culture. Without EQ, diversity training strategies do not have the impact nor staying power because they’re not rooted in behavioral practice and intentional habit-forming. A diverse workplace can be the most effective workplace with emotional intelligence. Think of diversity as the engine of your organization, and EQ is the fuel. 

How do we do it? How can we infuse emotional intelligence development into our diversity training?

Develop Self-Awareness

Encourage employees to explore their own biases and perceptions, improving self-understanding and empathy towards others. Self-awareness reflects our understanding of our strengths, typical behaviors in situations, and real-time emotions. In this way, self-awareness is a foundational emotional intelligence skill that impacts our interactions with others, the work we do, and the workplace culture overall. 

Diversity Traning Promotes Empathy and Social Awareness

Teach the importance of empathy in understanding diverse perspectives and building inclusive relationships. When we enhance our social awareness, one of the 4 core EQ skills, we are working to learn more about others, beyond what we can readily observe in their behaviors. Understanding others’ motivations, obstacles, stressors, and strengths enhances our ability to have effective collaborations and interactions. To be sure, these interactions contribute to the culture you want in your workplace, and it is up to each individual to maintain this culture.

    Strengthen Communication Skills

    Emphasize Active Listening and Dialogue

    Offer training that emphasizes active listening and respectful dialogue. This approach is crucial for bridging cultural gaps and fostering an inclusive workplace.

    Benefits of Emotional Intelligence

    Emotional intelligence development leads to several key benefits, with enhanced communication at the forefront. Effective communication is essential in any role or business, making this skill vital for workplace success.

    Adapting Communication Styles

    Proficient communication involves being flexible and targeted. It’s about adapting to meet the diverse needs of your audience effectively. Communication should not be one-size-fits-all.

    Meeting People Where They Are

    Use emotional intelligence to meet people where they are. This means communicating in ways that are most effective for them while ensuring your own needs are also met. This tailored approach helps in building better relationships and understanding within teams.

    Encourage Inclusive Leadership

    Equip leaders with the skills to manage diverse teams fairly and compassionately, fostering a sense of belonging for all employees. There is a good reason why your team is composed as it is. Each team member has something important to contribute and it is vital they feel safe to do so. In this way, emotional intelligence development will help leaders set others up for success, putting them in the most strategic positions to contribute effectively to what the team is trying to do. This also requires challenging team members constructively and giving them opportunities to try new things, fail, and share insights learned.

    Inclusive leadership is all about helping others develop, succeed, and lead others. Indeed, emotional intelligence is central to this effort. Without EQ development at its core, inclusive leadership efforts will fall flat. Why? Because they won’t be rooted in practical behavioral development that can be tracked over time.

    Implement Bias Training

    Address unconscious biases and their impact on decision-making and team dynamics. An important function of self-awareness – and emotional intelligence more broadly – is to be clear and open about what we do not know. Not only does this set us up for development success it also helps us uncover our blind spots. What are you not observing? Why? We all have biases, they are necessary and quite functional. However, when left unchecked, our biases can certainly run amok and majorly get in our way. By enhancing our EQ and self-awareness especially, we can confront what we do not know, identify our biases, and work to learn more of the whole story about a given matter, another individual, and ourselves. 

    Diversity Training Helps Foster a Culture of Feedback

    Create safe spaces for open, constructive conversations about diversity and inclusion. Giving and receiving feedback openly is difficult, and yet this is central to learning about how we can improve. Others’ perspectives of us contribute to the diversity of any team and organization, and these perspectives must be heard for a more comprehensive (360 feedback) picture of ourselves. When open feedback is embedded into the workplace culture, we consistently tap into diverse perspectives, celebrate and learn from them, and enrich our diversity training.  

    Continuous Learning and Development

    Encourage ongoing education and reflection on diversity issues, promoting a culture of continuous improvement. This requires the development of a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, any challenge we currently face is but an obstacle to overcome, as we identify the skills/tools needed for the job and sharpen our ability to execute these. Compared to a fixed mindset, a growth mindset positions us to accept the reality we are each (and always) a work-in-progress, which means anything you cannot do now represents an opportunity to learn how to do in the future. This simple, yet foundational mindset is also required for effective diversity training.  

    Embed your Diversity Traning with EQ Development  

    Diversity training, enhanced by emotional intelligence, is key to developing a workplace where all employees feel valued and respected. By embedding your diversity training with EQ development for individuals and teams, your organization will be able to successfully tap the rich resources diversity offers, rather than treat diversity as a goal unto itself. Think of diversity as a means by which to achieve what an organization sets out to accomplish, and the way for achieving it must center on emotional intelligence development, wherein team members can enhance their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management skills.

    By Josh Rosenthal, Director of Training for TalentSmartEQ. For more information, please check out additional resources at:

    These strategies were adapted from the new book, “Emotional Intelligence Habits” by Dr. Travis Bradberry. To order, click here. For more strategies that can help you improve engagement at your organization, check out our training programs or contact us.

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