In this article

Effective cultural diversity training

What is cultural diversity training?

How often is cultural diversity training required?

How to train employees on diversity and cultural awareness

Let’s start with a memory: It’s lunchtime in second grade, and you’ve just walked into the cafeteria. You sit next to your best friends Anders, and Quynh Anh at your usual table, and the three of you open your lunch boxes. Anders unwraps toast with shrimp paste. Quynh Anh pulls out a container of tofu. You’re all about to dig in when a big kid from fourth grade runs up behind you, points at your lunches, and yells, “Ew!” before scampering away.

We think you know how the rest of this story goes. Anders blushes and squirms in his seat while Quynh Anh discreetly snaps the lid back on her tupperware. The three of you can hear the fourth graders laughing from a table away. You’re left wondering, What did we do wrong?

The missing ingredient: effective cultural diversity training

As a kid, you hope that when you’re older, adults will no longer be meanies over what people pack in their lunchboxes… the clothes they wear, the pronouns they use, or the decade they were born in. At Ethena, we know that, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In fact, workplace bias was the main reason why Ethena’s two women co-founders started our company.

As a working professional, you’ve probably seen biases time travel from the cafeteria and playground to the lunch room and boardroom (and even if you haven’t seen it, we can bet that others in your company have). If you want to change this, guess what, the numbers are on your side! In fact, research shows that:

  • Employee performance improves by 12% when in a diverse work environment
  • Employee intent to continue with the company increases by 20% with a diverse work environment
  • And conversely, after an employee witnesses racial bias in their workplace, their work efficiency decreases by 45% on average

So how do you get your team from PB&Js to a diverse all-inclusive buffet? Grab your hall pass and follow along. We’re about to dive in.

What is cultural diversity training?

Do you remember the colorful parachute from the school gym class? And how you and your classmates would do a coordinated group whoosh to fill it with air and then quickly scoot under and sit on the edges? If you do, you can definitely recall the magical sight of having that inflated kaleidoscope dome above you.

Effective cultural diversity training promotes those feelings of cooperation and belonging that you got as a kid sitting under that parachute. Cultural diversity training educates learners on how to treat people with respect from different:

  • Ethnicities
  • Religions
  • Genders
  • Sexual orientations
  • Physical abilities
  • Backgrounds
Comic from Ethena's DEI training: Microaggressions: Strategies for Speaking Up
Comic from Ethena’s DEI training: Microaggressions: Strategies for Speaking Up

Just like that favorite parachute from long ago, a workplace environment runs best when everyone makes a coordinated effort to build a more colorful future. At Ethena, we believe that a great cultural diversity training course should empower individuals to act with intersectional awareness, empathy, and compassion for one another in order to make the workplace more inclusive and equitable for all kinds of people.

After all, we all come into the workplace with at least one of 13 types of bias, so a good cultural diversity training course can help make us aware of them and to be appropriately respectful while on the job.

How often is cultural diversity training required?

Cultural diversity training is not “required” per se. But much like getting the oil changed on your car regularly to keep it in top-performing condition, you should also think of this level of frequency for your workplace. Basically, it’s a really good idea to implement it vs neglect it.

At Ethena, we’re passionate about making cultural and diversity training courses that aren’t simply “check-the-box trainings.” With new times and new hires, the diversity of your company changes, so your workplace diversity policies and employee cultural knowledge should update, too. Training on cultural differences should be something your entire team revisits at least once per year (at Ethena, we get all hot and bothered when it’s revisited twice a year or even *swoon* quarterly).

We believe that cultural diversity training in the workplace has the biggest impact when it feels relevant. So how about making sure your coworkers are up to speed for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) History Month, or polishing up your team before the diverse group of winter holidays? When employees feel respected by their coworkers, it’s bound to be a happy Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Year of the Rabbit.

How to train employees on diversity and cultural awareness

You’ve listened to employees’ diversity needs and concerns and are ready to get your team on board with a cultural diversity training course. Do you bring in an in-person consultant? Or should you consider a faster and easier online approach (which is especially relevant to today’s remote and hybrid workforces)? In order to support a diverse company that is prepped to grow, time is of the essence. After all, 76% of job seekers and current employees reported that a diverse workforce is a defining factor when considering companies and job offers. And as Gen Z begins to enter the workforce, reports show that a whopping (and exciting!) 83% of Gen Z job candidates report that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer.

And it’s not just about growth and retention! Research shows that diverse and inclusive organizations have better performance, are more creative and innovative, and have a better assessment of consumer interest and demand. So how do you get your team from laissez-faire to Yes, I care! as quickly as possible? Enter Ethena.

Get your cultural diversity training in the workplace (with Ethena)

At Ethena, we’re all about cultural diversity training that brings teams together rather than emphasizing a focus on pointing fingers at individuals. We know that when companies try to strengthen diversity efforts by sticking to the tactics they’ve been using for decades (blame and shame, we’re looking at you), things often get worse, not better.

Or how about when companies make ill-advised efforts without doing proper research (like actually talking to the community they’re trying to support)? We all remember several big-box stores that sold special “Juneteenth-flavored” treats or merchandise for the holiday. It was cringe-worthy — and at Ethena, we really don’t like cringe. Customers were appalled that these companies would try to profit from a holiday memorializing the end of slavery. The companies most likely already stocked Black-owned brands. So why didn’t they consider promoting those instead? One possible reason? A lack of cultural diversity training.

For tips on making other workplace initiatives more inclusive outside of a cultural diversity training course, check out our Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DEI) Philosophy template. It gives you a launch point to institute other effective DEI initiatives, including things like:

  • Starting ERGs
  • Providing inclusive perks and benefits
  • Providing equal opportunities for growth development and mentoring
  • And much more

In 2022, Ethena worked with the Tegus research platform to create and launch multiple DEI training programs to build a foundation of inclusion and awareness within the organization. Thanks to Ethena’s light-touch learning model and relevant, bite-sized content, not only did 92% of Tegus learners give the program a positive rating, but 85% of learners also finished their assigned training within 90 days.

Tegus learners’ feedback is now part of the 1 million positive ratings Ethena has received. Are you ready for your team to join them? Check out our DEI sample course or talk with a member of our team today.