Soft Skills

Making a new reality: Diversity training in VR

Diversity and inclusion training is more of a business priority than ever before as organizations realize the benefits of a diverse workforce. With this comes the establishment of diversity task forces, hiring diversity officers, and conducting effective, meaningful, and valuable diversity and inclusion training in the workplace

Diversity training can be an effective tool to help educate employees on what diversity means in daily interactions with fellow coworkers, customers, and vendors. Organizing a diversity training program is a vital step in ensuring that all employees feel respected and empowered to perform their jobs in a safe space. 

Raising awareness around the value of diversity and unconscious bias

The idea of diversity training is not new. However, organizations are looking for fresh, new ways to discuss these topics so that all employees feel supported and prepared to do their best work. 

It’s also not something that is specific to corporate America. There’s a growing interest in diversity training in police departments, educational institutions, retail stores, government offices, nonprofit organizations, and more. A top priority of DE&I training for many of these organizations is to aid people in communicating better with one another to create a more cohesive, productive, and fulfilling environment.

Another major goal of integrating diversity training into the workplace is to raise awareness of the value that collaborating with people of diverse backgrounds can offer. Diverse backgrounds can include culture, race, gender, ethnicity, belief, experiences, abilities, and ideas. Through inclusive training, employees are able to learn concepts such as cultural competency, unconscious bias, civility, and workplace sensitivity. These learnings can be applied to the workplace and beyond.

Often, diversity training is designed to bring awareness of unconscious bias or hidden attitudes about people based on social stereotypes. Many companies have taken action to try and avoid making negative headlines, as several well-known brands have done after incidents involving bias

But the truth is that bias permeates even when it’s not in the news. Training can help make people more aware of unconscious biases and give them the tools they need to positively work through potential misunderstandings between colleagues and customers. 

Benefits of Immersive Learning

As diversity and sensitivity training programs become more integral to the employee experience, it is critical for learning leaders to explore the most effective ways to affect behaviors in the workplace. What are the elements of training that keep employees engaged and excited about what they are learning while ensuring that it remains applicable to their jobs? Virtual Reality (VR) training in an Immersive Learning environment can support that goal.

VR has proven to be an effective tool to immerse employees in a learning experience and provide an opportunity to practice inclusive workplace behaviors in a realistic setting. Participants are able to learn from the viewpoints of others – to “walk in the shoes of another” – and provide immediate feedback on how their responses to scenarios may affect others. 

Learn about the research at Stanford VR Lab on body switching

Using VR for diversity training builds connection amongst learners, particularly when talking about topics like unconscious bias. Day-to-day bias in the workplace is not always easily identified and may happen without even thinking about it. 

One of the main benefits of VR is the chance to practice in a safe environment. Creating diversity training programs in VR gives learners the opportunity to experience how unconscious bias can affect others. Once the bias is made known, learners can practice proper responses so that they can start to build authentic connections with other coworkers.

For example, learning what a microaggression is can be a difficult topic to understand using a textbook or even traditional role play. But complete immersion in VR puts the learner directly into the context of the environment, and they can experience what it’s like to be on both sides of the incident. 

Then, they get to practice tough conversations as many times as needed to feel confident and comfortable. Tone, word choice, and body language all become learning opportunities, as well. 

Lastly, VR training allows participants to build empathy through learning how to respect the perspectives of their fellow coworkers. This leads to the development of strong teams where all contributions are appreciated. Once these lessons are learned in the virtual world, they become easily transferable once they get back to the workplace, making a more empathetic office environment.

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Empathy became critical during the pandemic, so Walmart helped its employees by teaching its beKIND module in VR.

How Strivr can help

Are you ready to take your diversity training program to the next level? 

Strivr’s VR platform and services can help your organization create diversity and inclusion training programs that help employees to build more positive social interactions with coworkers, customers, vendors, and others. 

Check out our ebook that details how VR can help create a more inclusive workplace.