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Equality and Diversity Training – Online or Face to Face?

It has been well documented that Equality and Diversity Training can challenge employee’s deeply held beliefs. Research has also shown that training in diversity is most effective when it is based on real life scenarios. A key part of the raising awareness process is to become mindful of the impact individual prejudices can have on others. So when you are considering Equality and Diversity training for staff should you choose an online approach or face to face training?

This article sets out the benefits we consider face to face training can offer over online courses in the area of Equality and Diversity training.

Effective for less motivated delegates

For a delegate who is disinterested, a face to face course will challenge them more effectively than an online course. This is down to a number of factors including:

  • the impact of the trainer and the other delegates
  • the depth of discussion and interaction
  • the ability to adapt the level of the course to the needs of the delegates

Confidentiality within the Group

At the outset of the training an effective trainer will get the participants to agree that anything that is said or done in the classroom is confidential. Many people find putting thoughts in writing into a computer inhibiting and prefer discussing them in a group where the ground rules have been agreed. For Equality and Diversity training to be successful it is crucial that views are discussed in a safe and supported environment.

Attention Levels and Focus on the Day

Groups engage more effectively when they are together in person. With online training it is much easier to be interrupted and can result in the training being fragmented. A face to face course allows people to remove themselves from their working environment, gives them time to reflect and evaluate their behaviour and consider what they need to change.

The Opportunity to Practice increases Delegate Confidence

Delegates are more likely to use the techniques when they see them working in practice based on current scenarios and problems. This experience cannot be duplicated with e-learning which misses many of the rich communication cues. These cues create key talking points for a group discussing equality and diversity issues.

The Impact of the Trainer

Based on our extensive experience groups appreciate and value the trainer’s expertise and time and as a result they turn off their phones and give their full attention to the programme.  A computer screen cannot command the same respect.

Spontaneous questions naturally evolve during face to face discussions. One person asking a question is like a catalyst for others in the group. Face to face training facilitates the full exploration and discussion of issues. This moves the group beyond what may be a “generic answer” to a query into exploring specific resolutions, This empowers each individual to find their own solution within good practice guidelines. Anecdotes about diversity issues are immensely influential. They invoke group discussion and debate which can result in deeper understanding of issues and how diversity legislation translates to their own specific workplace practices. In face to face training everyone can be encouraged to participate which can engender collective ownership for changing negative cultural norms. The trainer is able to adapt the content of the training to the specific needs of each group.

Breaking Down Barriers

An added bonus is that delegates from different sectors of the organisation can improve interdepartmental team-working and co-operation as a direct result of attending the training together. Working together and sharing issues can help everyone to appreciate the unique problems each department faces.

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