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Access is not the same as use: barriers to use of DEI resources

Our team is blown away by the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) resources available online to support employees. There’s a powerful range of educational resources like videos, blogs, units, courses and more, proven to educate employees and promote inclusivity. 

However, as workplaces move forward with educational resources to address inclusion and belonging concerns, it is important to consider factors that can inhibit their adoption. Provision of even the best classes, workshops, units and quizzes, is not enough on its own to spark the behaviour change needed to reap the benefits of DEI. 

Access to DEI resources does not always lead to the use of those resources. 

Behavioural support is needed to overcome cultural, social, habitual and emotional barriers to resource use. We outlined some barriers that can be hindering your employees from using resources you have invested in and truly buying into your DEI efforts. We hope you can implement our tips this week to help employees overcome barriers to use. 

Consumption Variety 

Bar graph titled: consumption preference
Watching: 47%
Reading: 24%
Listening: 19%

It is important to make DEI content accessible for visual, auditory and language needs. It is also important to offer content that satisfies how your team likes to consume information. 
A study by PEW research found that most people like watching the news, followed by reading it, and then listening to it.

When providing educational content for your team offering – a limited variety of mediums creates barriers to accessing your content. 

It is crucial to consider usability from an access and a preference lens. A variety of options ranging from video, to print, and podcasts can ensure employees buy-in to what you are delivering.  

Inconsistent responses to engagement  

Positive and constructive responses from leadership can be powerful to encourage employee engagement in your DEI initiatives. 

Inconsistency in your responses makes the inclusive choice harder to see. When leadership consumes its own DEI resources and rewards those who do the same, employee buy-in can increase dramatically. 

Encourage engagement: 
I noticed you have not accessed (insert: content not engaged with), I would love to learn more about why, so I can help. Your engagement is important to me and (insert: company D&I vision) 
Recognize engagement:
I have noticed you accessing and engaging with (insert: content engaged with), thank you. Your engagement is important to (insert: company D&I vision) and I really value your support. Is there anything I can do to improve your experience?

Use our Recognize engagement template to show your appreciation for team members who are engaged with the DEI content you are sharing. The question at the end facilitated an opportunity for the employee’s engagement to catalyze resource improvement or further support for initiatives. 

If leadership is inconsistent in discouraging harmful responses to DEI initiatives, employees are more likely to stop engaging with your resources. Similarly, if you spotlight employees who practice inclusive behaviours, employees are more likely to take your resources seriously and see its value. 

You can use our Encourage engagement this template to let your team members know that their engagement is important to you and that you notice when they are disengaged. Your question facilitates the opportunity for dialogue about barriers or fears they might have with buying into DEI. 

Explicit time for learning 

DEI education and investment are new for a lot of organizations. It is critical to set an expectation for how much time team members invest in DEI education weekly to ensure engagement happens. DEI needs to be a weekly priority alongside any other job expectation. This not only sets a standard for employees who might need a push to get started, but it also eliminates any fears for employees who are worried that they are spending too much time on DEI in comparison to their colleagues. 

Transparent trajectory 

Your vision for an inclusive and diverse workplace is powerful. Sometimes, when we break down each unit, workshop, or activity, as the designers, we can clearly see how each step contributes to the wider goal. Sometimes it’s not as easy for all team members to immediately see that trajectory. 

It is important to share what the company’s short and long-term DEI goals are, so that team members can believe that their 30min a week investment is contributing to something bigger than themselves. This adds ownership to each individual and encourages employees to take their buy-in seriously. 

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