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Making Inclusive Habits Training Effective By Jennifer Westropp
Jennifer Westropp, director for talent development and performance at Relativity, says D&I training is only the first step in creating inclusive company culture.
Jennifer Westropp
Jennifer Westropp
Companies around the world are making diversity and inclusion a top priority but few are achieving actionable change within their culture. We are learning that true D&I is an active effort to drive change. This change does not happen overnight and requires a hyperfocus from us all.

At Relativity, that meant taking a multiyear approach supported by a companywide key business imperative. The first year, 2018, was about listening to and assessing our employees’ current state as well as their readiness so that we could identify our biggest areas of opportunity and what was currently working. The second year employed a more tactical approach, with a range of learning opportunities to engage our employees’ hearts and minds. Here’s a look at our approach.

Relativity’s commitment to D&I isn’t just rooted in our core values; it’s grounded in the fact that this is both the right thing to do and will make our business better in the long term. There are numerous empirical studies illustrating the importance of having diverse teams and fostering inclusive work environments to better compete in today’s business setting. Our leadership saw this early on and fully invested in this pursuit by giving us the resources and time needed so that we could get this right.

During the first-year assessment period of our company’s current readiness to embrace the D&I message, we analyzed how we could weave D&I concepts into our company culture and recruitment processes, and also spoke to employees first-hand to get a read on what D&I meant to them and how we could evolve as an organization to embed D&I into our culture.

Through this feedback and through further advisement from the NeuroLeadership Institute, we decided to refrain from rolling out D&I trainings in year one. We also decided to refrain from making the trainings in year two mandatory. This gave our employees the time, space and autonomy needed to make a voluntary, conscious decision to approach D&I through their own lens and hopefully build a base of active community support for the cause in the future.

In year two, we rolled out our D&I training course in partnership with Paradigm — a diversity, equity and inclusion consulting firm — that focused on four core concepts: belonging, voice, growth and objectivity. Alongside Paradigm’s empirically backed D&I research, we personalized the training to better appeal to the hearts and minds of our employees. After seeing the success of the small-group D&I meet-ups we facilitated in year one, where we worked to create a safe, open space for transparent discussions and learning, we decided to host the trainings in small classrooms that were more conducive for employees to share their personal experiences with D&I in an open and safe setting.

The training also included several practical applications of how our employees could actively practice being more inclusive in their day-to-day work lives. Presenting scenarios around how to build awareness of their unconscious bias in the workplace and how to embed more inclusive habits into both talent practices and daily interactions were positively received and helped our employees feel more empowered once they left the training.

The feedback from these trainings has been positive so far, as 88 percent said it was an effective use of their time. Eighty-nine percent of respondents also said the content was relevant to them and 96 percent said they would engage in inclusive habits moving forward. But these stats only tell part of the story. Training is the first step in this journey; you need the continued commitment, accountability and buy-in from everyone across the organization to ensure that inclusion becomes a foundational pillar of your company’s culture.

Chief Learning Officer wants to hear from you: What are you thinking about? Send your thoughts to Elizabeth Loutfi at
According to Jennifer