11 April 2024 | Dr Jo Kandola

7 reasons to choose online diversity and inclusion training

It can be hard to know where to start when you’re looking for a diversity and inclusion training solution. We take a look at seven reasons why online training has particular advantages when it comes to DEI, from better learning transfer to ease of scalability.

Diversity, equity and inclusion training comes in many shapes and sizes, from the bite-sized micro-course on your smartphone to the full-day immersive in-person workshop. And while the enforced isolation of the Covid pandemic may have left many of us pining for more face-to-face contact, there are still plenty of good reasons why online courses have the edge over the classroom when it comes to DEI training — and learning technologies are evolving all the time to deliver more engaging and impactful learner experiences.


Why choose online DEI learning?

Research by IBM found that people doing online courses with multimedia content learned five times more than students in traditional face-to-face settings, while a range of different studies have found that e-learning can increase student retention rates by anything from 25% to 60%, representing a hugely superior ROI for organisations keen to maximise their L&D budgets.

The resulting reduction in travel and paper waste makes online a highly attractive option for employers looking to boost their green credentials, and with digital courses typically requiring 40-60% less employee time than training in a traditional classroom setting, there’s a vast reduction in lost working time too.

When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, online training should be a serious consideration for any organisation that wants to bring about lasting behaviour change rather than just ticking a few boxes and hoping for the best. Here are seven reasons why the ever-expanding possibilities of digital learning platforms should make online your medium of choice.

1. It creates a safe space

Many of us don’t like talking about diversity and inclusion issues in front of other people for fear of ‘saying the wrong thing’ or inadvertently revealing a bias or prejudice that we might hold. Online training gives us a safe personal space within which to explore topics such as bias, discrimination and prejudice away from the gaze and judgement of others – and as such it’s far more likely to prompt honest reflection and make us more receptive to changing our behaviour.

2. We can explore through video


Research consistently shows that video improves engagement and retention and is a highly effective means of communicating complex messages. Studies have found that the average viewer retains 95% of a message when they watch it, compared to just 10% when reading, making video the perfect medium for getting people to engage with challenging issues around bias, discrimination and exclusion.

3. We can progress at our own pace

As well as trying to fit training in around our workloads and the demands on our home lives, we will all have different times of the day when we retain information better and are more receptive to new ideas, so being able to choose when and where we learn is crucial. High-quality diversity and inclusion training courses require an investment of time and emotional engagement, so giving people full control over their learning experience and letting them work at their own pace means they are far more likely to be effective.

4. It drives better learning transfer

The key to successful diversity, equity and inclusion training is learning transfer – making sure that people know how to put what they’ve learned into practice and feel empowered to do so. An online training course gives us the chance to try out inclusive actions and strategies and see how effective they are before applying them in the real world, letting us build our confidence and self-belief and making us much more likely to convert our learning into action.

5. It reduces potential stressors


For certain neuro-minorities and people with anxiety disorders, elements of a face-to-face training session can be sources of extreme anxiety or discomfort. If someone is overwhelmed by constant thoughts and concerns relating to the training session, their working memory will be impacted, and this can severely impact their ability to engage and absorb new information. Online training allows the participant to take control of their own learning within a familiar and comfortable setting and minimises any stressors they might face in a physical environment.

6. It’s easy and cost-effective to scale

Real and lasting inclusion is all about more people being more inclusive, more of the time – but we also know that costs can be prohibitive when it comes to rolling out in-person training, meaning that it’s usually only a few people (usually at the top) who benefit. Online courses make it possible to reach every single person in your organisation and equip them with the actions they can take to be a more inclusive colleague on a daily basis. Reaching everyone builds momentum and creates the conditions for sustainable change.

7. It takes us on a journey


Some organisations go to great efforts to bring employees from many different locations together for one intensive training session – but this is often where the learning journey stops. While these sessions may spark lots of ideas and discussion, this kind of one-off training is less effective at supporting people to embed new habits and behaviours in the long term.

Online learning makes it much easier to create a longer-term, self-directed learning journey that promotes lasting behaviour change. As learners start to try out the skills they’ve learned, such as how to behave more inclusively or how to challenge inappropriate behaviour, they will start to feel more comfortable and confident.

Importantly, too, they will start to see the benefits of driving inclusion within their organisation, such as better relationships, increased creativity and improved wellbeing within their team. This will then increase their motivation to continue to learn more about inclusion through online DEI e-learning, which in turn increases the likelihood that they will continue to set and achieve new inclusion goals, creating a virtuous circle.

Contact us today to find out how Kandola+digital learning programmes can support diversity and inclusion in your organisation.