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Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Through Education Programs

by Jody Ordioni

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Through Education Programs

Unless employees are constantly provided with opportunities for developing and attaining skills, their growth will remain stagnant. Employees who have degrees along with professional experience can expect a 167% boost in their salaries, compared to those who do not.

However, employees belonging to underrepresented groups constantly find themselves at a disadvantage. They cannot take up educational assistance programs due to several reasons. The responsibility then falls on the company to create equity in the workforce and provide opportunities for growth to marginalized employees especially.

Since employers have committed to making the organizations more inclusive and creating tailored programs that provide access to education, here are some tips that will take into consideration the wide-ranging disparities that prevail in the workforce:

Ensure that Your Education Assistance Policy is Inclusive

A conscious evaluation of policies and programs already present in the company is necessary. You should look at the groups that are unable to participate in these programs and ask why. If your programs involve amenities like a personal computer, which some employees might not have access to, then they won't be able to participate in the program. Things that feel insignificant can hinder inclusivity for some. Moreover, if all employees don't know the programs available for them, then participation will be less.

Consider Financial Restraints to Employees

Financial hurdles are the most significant hindrance for employees when trying to participate in educational programs. One option company should consider is paying on behalf of the students directly, so that the employees don't feel financially burdened. Additionally, the programs offered internally by the company must be low-cost.

By offering low-cost education programs, you will see a larger number of employees participating in the assistance programs. Since marginalized groups tend to have limited options in education available to them due to financial constraints, inclusive programs will help them gain experience and growth.

Student Loan Support by the Organization

Many employees have long-standing student debts that restrain them from enrolling in upskilling programs due to limited financial resources. Studies have shown that employees from diverse or marginalized backgrounds are much more likely to have outstanding student debts. This prevents them from going back to school or going for programs that will help them develop professional skills.

Companies can step in and offer complimentary student loan repayment programs that'll lift marginalized employees. Not only will this provide support to the employees but will also attract diverse potential employees to your company, as the financial burden will be one less thing to worry about.

Additional Support Benefits

Anyone who has juggled a full-time job along with their studies realizes that any additional responsibilities can break the proverbial camel's back. Organizations should step up and consider providing additional benefits to employees so that they can be successful. As an example, consider an employee who has a child. On top of managing their personal and professional lives, they also have to worry about finishing their degree or any professional course they are enrolled in.

If the company steps in to provide childcare services, then the employee would be able to manage their responsibilities more smoothly. Moreover, it would also make the employee more engaged with the company. Inclusivity can only become the norm in the company when the C-suite makes fundamental changes in the outlook of the company towards helping the employees.

Necessary Skills for All Employees

Organizations should include the option of learning soft skills such as the English language in the education assistance program they offer. Soft skills are fundamental skills that are required if one wishes to pursue a degree. By investing in such scheme's companies can provide a level playing ground to employees who belong to marginalized communities.

The Bottom Line

Company-sponsored education programs are not only beneficial in supporting the DEI objectives of the company but work to remove disparity within the workforce. Lower cost of education and training programs, coupled with additional benefits that ease the burden from the shoulders of the employees, lead to a diversified talent pool. Organizations ultimately stand to benefit by making education assistance programs available to the diverse pool of employees and making them more inclusive.

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