DEI for Legal Teams
What legal responsibilities do business owners have to implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into the workplace and how can a well-executed DEI strategy positively impact valuation? It is important for organizations to not only have strategies for implementing DEI and anti-harassment policies but also to implement them through effective training. Keeping employees safe and creating an inclusive workspace is not only smart from a culture and engagement perspective, it is always wise to reduce the risk of an employment lawsuit.
Training is not only for simply meeting compliance requirements, it can highlight different perspectives on the company culture and open the dialogue to create opportunities for team bonding, changes in HR policies, and increase productivity in the workplace by increasing the sense of ownership and agency employees have.
Training is no longer the sole purview of Human Resources, rather it is now a joint effort of leadership, HR, and the legal department of any mid-sized and larger organization.
When considering the costs of both diversity, equity and inclusion training and harassment prevention training, especially in a hybrid or remote world of work it can be easy to overlook the hidden risk-cost of not engaging in effective training.
Consider remote sessions with small teams as a way to keep the company running while creating “pods” of team members who are bonded through their experience and also able to disseminate their learning to other teams in the organization. (this is not a replacement for each person receiving training, of course).
Spending more money on an effective, motivating training program may, in fact, save money on time spent by employees, leadership and legal doing endless sessions to no positive impact. Starting with leadership and working your way down to those in middle management ensures that the message is consistent, that everyone is on board, and that the message doesn’t disappear after the training is over.
An Ounce of Prevention
From a risk management perspective, the cost of prevention is easily offset by not only the risk of harassment or discrimination action but also by the compliance requirements of each state.
Employment lawsuit damages and penalties can be significant if you lose, and legal fees in the hundreds of thousands even if you win. By adopting a comprehensive anti-harassment policy and providing effective training, employers can show that they have taken active steps to create a positive, inclusive and safe workspace.
Losing employees because of poor company culture, an unsafe workplace, or lack of diversity has costs to the employee in their pain and suffering and also costs to the organization in lower morale and therefore lower productivity, increased resignation rates, damage to brand reputation, and brand loyalty and increased insurance costs.
Weigh the cost of high-quality training against those of failing to promote a safe and inclusive workplace and company culture to truly understand the cost of DEI and harassment training.
How to Select a DEI Training Company
High-quality content, engaging activities, real-world experience, and well-presented experiences are essential to employee engagement. A “cheesy” or out-of-touch free-online course is likely to backfire causing employees to out the efforts on social media as ineffective and creating a hostile workplace environment to try another type of training program in the future.
By giving employees and management a high-quality experience the message is that leadership is invested in the DEI initiative, that tolerance for harassment or exclusion is very low and that the employees must take the program seriously.
Programs that include real-world experiences and immersive training in emotional intelligence and leadership strategies can change behaviors, not only of potential harassers but of bystanders and the company as a whole.
A well-executed DEI training program can create lasting and positive change. And that is priceless.
Disclaimer: The foregoing blog post does not constitute legal advice, but instead only addresses the general topic of DEI Training. Anyone seeking legal advice should consult with an attorney regarding its specific circumstances and needs.